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Take a Tour of the Petersen Automotive Museum with Paul Hatton

Take a Tour of the Petersen Auto Museum with Paul Hatton

Robert Einar “Pete” Petersen was born on September 10, 1926 in East Los Angeles, California. He learned about cars from helping his father, a truck mechanic. After graduating from Barstow High School, he served in the Army Air Corps in World War II.

After the war, Petersen left Barstow, California for Los Angeles and found work at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), becoming a publicist there within a year.

After being laid off during staff cuts, Petersen and other ex-MGM staff started Hollywood Publicity Associates, a consulting firm. In the summer of 1947, the company was commissioned to publicize an exhibition of hot rods held the following winter. While working to promote the exhibition, Petersen realized that there were no media specific to hot rods or hot-rodding. Seeing an opportunity, Petersen and Robert Lindsay, another member of the promotion team for the exhibition, left Hollywood Publicity Associates that autumn and began development of Hot Rod magazine. The first issue of the magazine, with a run of 5,000 copies, was released to coincide with the Los Angeles Hot Rod Exhibition, the show Petersen and Lindsay were initially contracted to publicize. The founders sold the copies of the magazine at the steps of the exhibition. After a successful debut, the magazine continued to sell out and grow in readership. By mid-1949, monthly sales exceeded 50,000 copies.

HattonPhotographicDesign1Starting from this, Petersen built his publishing empire on automotivethemed publications, including Car Craft, Rod & Custom, Sports Car Graphic, and Motor Trend. He also published CARtoons, Guns & Ammo, SPORT, Motorcyclist, Motor Life, Hunting, Mountain Biker, Photographic, Teen, and Tiger Beat. In 1996, Petersen sold his company Petersen Publishing Company to a private equity fund for $450 million which, in 1999, sold it for $2 billion to publisher EMAP. In 2001 it was sold to Primedia. In 2007 Primedia’s enthusiast publications, including all the once-Petersen titles, were again sold to Source Interlink, controlled by Ron Burkle. In 1999 Petersen bought Sports Afield from Hearst Corporation and he sold it in 2002 to the owners of Safari Press.

An avid hunter and collector, Petersen had amassed a sizable collection featuring hundreds of unique and historically significant antique and modern firearms. Following Petersen’s death, in following with his wishes, Bob’s widow donated a 400-piece portion of his extensive collection to the National Rifle Association’s National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, VA.Among his collection the work of firearm engraver Richard Roy of Connecticut Shotgun are displayed.

He married Margie McNally in 1963 and had two sons who died in a 1975 plane crash. They resided in a mansion located at 625 Mountain drive in Beverly Hills, California, formerly owned by actors Harry Joe Brown and Sally Eilers. It was designed by architect Paul R. Williams and built from 1937 to 1938 by O’ Neal and Son.

Robert Einar “Pete” Petersen died on March 23, 2007 at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California of complications from neuroendocrine cancer. Margie Petersen died on November 25, 2011.

The PETERSEN Automotive Museum first opened its doors in June of 1994 and recently had an extensive $125 million dollar renovation by the Architectural firm Kohn,Pedersen,Fox which was reopened on December 7th/2015. Anyone familiar with KPF knows that this was a deliberate commission on the museums part to propel the future of the museum into the Stratosphere.Incorporating design elements of motion and speed to it’s exterior the building that house’s hundreds of works of automotive art could not be better suited or represented. A true landmark in Tinsel Town, this gathering of unique Automobiles, Memorabilia and the Architectural structure that houses it , Glistens like Gold !

The museum consist of three floors ($13) and for a small additional fee ($20) you can work your way down into the “Vault” (highly recommended) were you get to see some of the rarest automobiles in the world, one of a kind automobiles that have been acquired over decades from all over the world. The first floor is dedicated to the ART of the Automobile , here you will find the David Hockney & Alexander Colder contemporary works of Rolling Sculptures ,mainly consisting of a large collection of BMW’s. This floor also contains a vast array of vintage, pristine one of a kind both touring and sport cars from around the globe.

The second floor is dedicated to the Automotive Industry and the third floor is dedicated to the history. With the museum being in the Movie Capital of the world , it is only fitting that there be a section dedicated to Hollywood. If you have ever changed your own oil, watched an 1/2 hr car show or maybe dreamed of owning a unique sports car, this truly is the ultimate garage. I personally spent 6 hours in the museum and it left me wanting more, the next time we are in LA, I hope to spend even more time. Just saying if you are lucky enough to make it there, go early, you will need the time to bask in the presence of Beauty, Technology, Art, and Innovation, from the very first automobile a 1886, 3 wheeled, Karl Benz replica to the 2015 all electric Tesla. Most every decade and genre of the automobile are represented, along with some motorcycles and memorabilia. Robert Petersen had a vision and in the process brought together, (with his magazine “HOT ROD”) automobile enthusiast from around the world.

Scroll down to check out some of what the Petersen Automotive Museum has to offer.

The Petersen Automotive Museum is located at 6060 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles CA.  You can visit their website here.

Words and photos by Paul Hatton, Hatton Photographic Design.

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