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A tour of the Vault at the Petersen Automotive Museum

The Petersen Automotive Museum has hundreds of incredible cars, but many have never been seen by the public. Behold the Vault, where they house classics from over 100 years of automotive history that can't fit in the museum itself. Here's a tour with tons of pictures.

Geoffrey Morrison Contributor
Geoffrey Morrison is a writer/photographer about tech and travel for CNET, The New York Times, and other web and print publications. He's also the Editor-at-Large for The Wirecutter. He has written for Sound&Vision magazine, Home Theater magazine, and was the Editor-in-Chief of Home Entertainment magazine. He is NIST and ISF trained, and has a degree in Television/Radio from Ithaca College. His bestselling novel, Undersea, and its sequel, Undersea Atrophia, are available in paperback and digitally on Amazon. He spends most of the year as a digital nomad, living and working while traveling around the world. You can follow his travels at BaldNomad.com and on his YouTube channel.
Geoffrey Morrison
2 min read
Geoffrey Morrison

You can't take pictures. Well, not normally. During a regular tour, there's the tour guide, and a separate minder who keeps an eye on you and your phone or camera. Welcome to the Vault, the sprawling underground storage of some incredible and historic cars, beneath the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

By special arrangement, I got to take my camera, so I can show you some of the cars on display. From a 1903 Cadillac to a 1953 Ferrari, to a gold-plated DeLorean, there's lots to see.

If you're a fan of cars, or even just history, I recommend checking out the Petersen if you're in LA. Since the Vault is a guided tour, there's a separate fee and specific tour times (two times a day on weekdays, four times on weekends).

If you can't convince your significant other to go for the cars, the LA County Museum of Art is across the street.

At your appointed time, your guide shepherds you into the elevator. Through another set of doors at the bottom is the underground garage that is the Vault.

Because it's not a show space, per se, the lighting isn't ideal for photography. The closeness of the cars was occasionally an issue for some shots. Excuses aside, here are a few dozen cars in all their amazing glory.

A tour of the Vault at the Petersen Automotive Museum (pictures)

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Cars get swapped in and out all the time, so there might be some different cars if you visit. It's also great to go around with one of the Petersen guides, as they're able to tell fascinating stories about almost every car (much more than I could get into here).

Special thanks to Alan Taylor at ERN for helping to set this up, and the Petersen's Chris Brown for showing me around.

As well as covering TV and other display tech, Geoff does photo tours of cool museums and locations around the world, including nuclear submarinesmassive aircraft carriersmedieval castles, epic 10,000 mile road trips, and more. Check out Tech Treks for all his tours and adventures.

He wrote a bestselling sci-fi novel about city-size submarines, along with a sequel. You can follow his adventures on Instagram and his YouTube channel.