Out & About // Donna Visits the Automobile Driving Museum

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It has truly been a pleasure to write ‘Out and About’ articles, for the past three years, which focus on our members.  The Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce is a business organization representing more than 800 businesses of all sizes, sectors and cities.  Our members range from mom-and-pop shops to leading industry associations and large corporations. This past week I was provided the opportunity to visit the Automobile Driving Museum, a true hidden gem in the South Bay.  

I was very excited about this week’s Out and About.  In fact, driving to the Automobile Driving Museum, I reflected back to high school.  It was during this time I developed a fondness for cars. Attending Buena Park High School, there was a road in front of the school in which students cruised back and forth each morning before classes began. The street was lined with Dodge Chargers, Chevrolet Cameros and Chevelles and Pontiac GTO’s and Firebirds and Ford Mustangs.  My favorite car, though, was my friend Brian’s 1955 Chevy Nomad.

As I entered the Automobile Driving Museum, I was greeted by Alec Carlson, Floor Manager.  Carlson explained to me that the Museum was founded in 2002 by car collectors Stanley Zimmerman and architect Earl Rubenstein.  The mission is to ‘collect, preserve, exhibit and ride in historic vehicles of all variation’. “We have approximately 120 cars in our collection ranging from the year 1886 to 2000.  The collection includes a 1932 Plymouth Brewster Town Car, owned by Eleanor Roosevelt, 1936 Packard touring phaeton given by Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Joseph Stalin and a 1955 Packard Caribbean Convertible given by Howard Hughes to his wife Jean Peters,” explained Carlson.

An extremely knowledgeable docent, Paul Idleson, provided a personal tour.  He spoke in depth about each of the cars in the Museum including their history and interesting facts.  Paul pointed out significant information about hood ornaments, rumble seats and a 1916 Packard that was used for Civil Defense Rescue.  The cars I was able to see and learn about included Packard’s, Lincoln Continental, Model T, Nash, MG, Austin Healey, Studebaker, Saxon and Detroit Electric.

Other than a location to view beautiful cars, the Museum is also home to a large Hot Wheels area in which they partner with Mattel.  This neatly organized play area for children has cases of Hot Wheels cars to play with. There is also a retro 50’s looking area, complete with a black and white tile floor where guests can enjoy ice cream or an assortment of refreshments.

There were two areas that caught my eye in the Museum.  One was an area that had a wall with the words, ‘Love Your Car’.  Guests attending the Museum are invited to write a note about their favorite car or their favorite trip in a car.  The words ‘Love Your Car’ are composed of parts from a car. I read several of the stories that guests had written.  Many thanked the Museum in their stories for providing such a beautiful place to come experience, share and enjoy.

The other place that I liked was an area for children.  There were different coloring sheets that kids could color; Tow Mater, Rustee and Lightening McQueen were a few of my favorites.  The coloring sheets were neatly displayed for visitors to look at.

In addition to being a Museum, the facility hosts Car Shows, Shop Talk, Hot Wheels Garage and Art of the Classic Ride, to name a few.  If you have not visited the Automobile Driving Museum, I encourage you to do so. It is truly a place in which you can learn, reflect and enjoy.  The Automobile Driving Museum is located at 610 Lairport St., El Segundo.


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