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US Auto Museums You Need to Visit

Volo Auto Museum -- courtesy

Volo Auto Museum

If car shows just aren’t getting it done for you anymore, you need to step up your car culture. Museums offer the chance to get up close to a super rare, incredibly expensive, or historically significant machine that you would never find at your local car show. This summer, make a trip to one of these great automotive museums.

Muscle Car City, Punta Gorda, FL

Muscle City is 100,000 square feet of muscle cars, with over 200 vehicles on display. There’s a retro style diner and gift store, a speed shop where you can buy upgrades for your hotrod, the “Car corral” where you can buy a hotrod, and on top of it all, they host cruises every year, and have room for 700+ cars. Wow.

Mullin Automotive Museum, Oxnard, CA

This rather new museum is actually the private collection of businessman/philanthropist Peter Mullin. While the museum primarily focuses on pre-war French cars, the sheer quality of the collection (and the museum itself) will likely keep the interest of anyone interested in cars, design, or architecture. While it’s only open to the public two days a month, this one is worth the drive, as it is consistently ranked one of the best auto museums anywhere.

Volo Auto Museum, Volo, IL

Volo, not Volvo. This is an eclectic mix of just about anything cool or interesting. In the Hollywood collection, there’s KITT, the Flintstones car, Ghost Rider’s chopper, and Lightning McQueen. Interested yet? Things get seriously weird with the celeb tribute cars. If your pursuits are more serious, they have a dozen Duesenbergs.

Studebaker National Museum, South Bend, IN

Visit the museum dedicated to one of the USA’s most stylish brands, Studebaker. There’s a lot to see, with vehicles ranging from pre-horseless carriage wagons, military vehicles, concept cars, and all the great production vehicles. There’s even some post-merger cars with Packard included in the mix, as well as the wagon that carried President Lincoln on his final ride.

National Route 66 Museum, Elk City, OK

Sure, this one’s in the middle of nowhere, but the Route 66 museum offers a cool look back in time at the “Mother Road.” While there are gorgeously restored Plymouths and Chevys guiding you through several decades of history, the real attraction is the surrounding memorabilia. The cars are complete with old school glass gas pumps, and drive-up window trays, neon signs, and historically accurate (and amusingly low) prices. If you’re looking for the culture of cars, you’ll find it on Route 66.

R.E. Olds Transportation Museum, Lansing, MI

This museum is a collection of the complete lifework of Ransom E Olds, found of Oldsmobile and REO automotive brands. There’s thousands of items of memorabilia, and over 60 cars. You’ll find everything from pre-1900 steam and electric cars, to the REO Speedwagon (yes, like the band), and more modern beauties. This one is a fascinating learning experience.

Simeone Automotive Museum - courtesy Greg Olotka

Simeone Automotive Museum

Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum, Philadelphia, PA

Simply one of the best museums anywhere for viewing pedigreed racecars, The Simeone delivers on multiple fronts. There’s over 50 years of racing evolution packed under one roof. You’ll never get bored here, as the website boasts, models displayed are from “Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Bentley, Bugatti, Ferrari, Porsche, Ford, Corvette, Jaguar, Mercedes, and more.” Racecars cover NASCAR, Bonneville, ALMS, rallying, and tons more. Go see this one.

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