QOTD: Best Car Museum

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

Between Corey's trip to the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville and a tweet I saw from a prominent industry person over the long weekend, I've been wondering -- what is the best car museum in the country?

Personally, I've been to the Gilmore in southwest Michigan*, the Auburn museum (and its sister museum across the parking lot) in Indiana, the Petersen in L.A., a private collection of Hondas outside of Milwaukee, and a few other, smaller museums that I don't recall the name of. The Gilmore and Auburn were part of a birthday trip for me that my lady friend put together and both are totally worth the time and money.

Taking things international -- I still remember going to Ireland on vacation with my dad when I was a teen and us stumbling across a random car museum in Killarney -- we stayed dry on a rainy afternoon as we checked the place out.

Sadly, a quick Google search wasn't helpful in determining the name of the place -- the nearest car museum that shows up is a bit out of town, and I recall this collection being within Killarney itself. Well, it was over 20 years ago, so things change.

*The Gilmore was showing a video of the Chevrolet Corvette C8 launch when we visited. Although you can't see me, I was in that video, covering the event for this very site. A bit of a surreal moment.

Anyway, I digress. And this QOTD is meant for North American car museums -- we can talk about what's across the pond some other day. Let's limit this to the U.S. and Canada since most of our readership resides in those two countries.

What's your pick?

Sound off below.

[Image: Grassmemo/Shutterstock.com]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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3 of 29 comments
  • 3SpeedAutomatic 3SpeedAutomatic on Feb 22, 2023

    Have been to the BMW museum in Munich; Audi in Ingolstadt; MB & Porsche in Stuttgart; Skoda in Mlada Boleslav; and VW in Wolfsburg.

    However, I found Peterson in LA the best, especially a tour of the downstairs vault with cars in storage, waiting to be displayed, or in the process of restoration. Wide selection in era, type, purpose, and county of origin. Well worth the extra few dollars.

  • Tassos Tassos on Feb 22, 2023

    I've been to many US and overseas auto museums. In the US I was in CA for 8 weeks in 2003 and saw both the Petersen AND the even more impressive NETHERCUT Collection north of LA. In MI I have seen the free Stahl's small but great collection twice, the volunteers there are very well informed and answer questions they do not in any other museum. Last Feb I went to the Duesy-Auburn-Cord one, that was OK too. I want to see the Gilmore, and any better ones. I would not bother to go to Nashville again just to see their damned auto museum, it's a long drive from MI.

    The big question you need to answer in your replies, for me at least, is if your pet museum has just Detroit Junk, or, like the Nethercutt COllection, has iconic, classic cars from the best auytomakers in the world. If it is the former, I would not bother wasting time and $ to visit.

    • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Feb 25, 2023

      @Tassos, it seems the joke is on you, because the Lane Motor Museum specializes in.... European cars! (also motorcycles and 'flying' and 'floating')

      On one of my visits there they started the LARC-LX and ran over a car with it -- and fired up an Indy car.

      But I'm fine if you stay away. U of M parking lot is way more interesting. 😉

  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X As much problems as I had with my '96 Chevy Impala SS.....I would love to try one again. I've seen a Dark Cherry Metallic one today and it looked great.
  • Susan O’Neil There is a good reason to keep the Chevrolet Malibu and other 4 door family sedans! You can transport your parents and other somewhat handicapped people comfortably and safety! If someone can stand and pivot you can put them in your car. An armrest in the back seat is appreciated and a handle above the door! Oh…and leather seats so your passenger can slide across the seat! 😊Plus, you can place a full sized wheelchair or walker in the trunk! The car sits a little lower…so it’s doable! I currently have a Ford Fusion and we have a Honda Accord. Our previous cars were Mercury Sables-excellent for transporting handicapped people and equipment! As the population ages-sedans are a very practical choice! POV from a retired handicapped advocate and daughter! 😊
  • Freddie Remember those ads that say "Call your doctor if you still have...after four hours"?You don't need to call your doctor, just get behind the wheel of a CUV. In fact, just look at one.I'm a car guy with finite resources; I can't afford a practical car during the week plus a fun car on the weekend. My solution is my Honda Civic Si 4 door sedan. Maybe yours is a Dodge Charger (a lot of new Chargers are still on dealer lots).
  • Daniel J Interesting in that we have several weeks where the temperature stays below 45 but all weather tires can't be found in a shop anywhere. I guess all seasons are "good enough".
  • Steve Biro For all the talk about sedans vs CUVs and SUVs, I simply can’t bring myself to buy any modern vehicle. And I know it’s only going to get worse.