Classic opulence on display at Petersen Museum

1927 Roll-Royce used by Fred Astaire among town cars at the Petersen. (Photo: Petersen Automotive Museum)

Town Cars: Arriving in Style, a new exhibit focusing on the grand chauffeur-driven limousines of history’s most rich and famous, highlights upcoming activities at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

Opening this Saturday, the yearlong showcase of bygone opulence features the finest examples from 1900 through the 1960s of the ultra-formal vehicles known as “town cars,” a term which denotes an open chauffeur’s area and an enclosed passenger compartment. The name Town Car was later co-opted by Lincoln.

Elegant town cars came from a variety of premium European and U.S. brands, and from the earliest days of the automobile. Usually, they were the most-splendid and most-expensive vehicles that the auto companies had to offer.

Many were custom-bodied by luxury coachbuilders, and they were as much about being seen in as they were about going places. Fred Astaire’s classically styled 1927 Rolls-Royce will be among the celebrity town cars on display.

Other upcoming events at the Petersen, located on the busy corner of Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard, include:

  • The Automotive Design Symposium: Celebrating Southern California Design, at 11 a.m. Sunday, February 23, with a panel of auto designers and industry experts. A Car Designer Cruise-In featuring concepts, classics, hot rods and creative customs starts at 9 a.m.
  • A special Movies and Milkshakes showing of the documentary film “Where They Raced,” featuring racing footage and photos from California’s golden age of speed, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, February 26. Admission and popcorn are free, and milkshakes are vintage priced at just $1. Click here for a preview clip from “Where They Raced.”
  • The fourth annual Women’s Day at the Petersen Museum from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 8,  presents hands-on lessons in car care, maintenance, tricks and tips presented in an entertaining fashion. For more information, call (323) 964-6308 or email sreck@petersen.,org.
  • Continuing exhibits at Petersen include License Plates: Unlocking the Code, through March 30, and Pickups: The Art of Utility, through April 6.

For more information about the Petersen Automotive Museum and its programs, see www.petersen.org.

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