Car Culture in Los Angeles

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Lusk, Flickr

It’s no secret, Angelenos love their cars. Throughout the year, Los Angeles hosts stellar events and unique exhibits that will engage even the most dedicated gearhead. Every fall, the LA Auto Show is a must-see event for car fanatics. Year round, enthusiasts can visit exhibits at the Petersen Automotive Museum, the Nethercutt Collection, and even ride in a classic car at the Automobile Driving Museum. If you feel the need for speed, rent an exotic car at Midway Car Rental, then hit the road with our guide to great LA drives.

LA Auto Show

Porsche 918 Spyder | Photo courtesy of LA Auto Show

The annual Los Angeles Auto Show takes over the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC) in Downtown LA from Nov. 22 to Dec. 1, 2013. Founded in 1907, the LA Auto Show is one of the most influential and best-attended auto shows in the world, a spectacular event that spans more than 870,000 square feet. The auto show’s Press Days take place Nov. 19-21 and draw more than 12,000 auto industry decision makers and influencers, including 4,000 media from more than 50 countries. During this year’s Press Days, 22 global debuts will be among the 56 vehicles unveiled to a worldwide audience. Global debuts include the NISMO JUKE RS and a NISMO Concept vehicle from Nissan, as well as four models from Mercedes-Benz, which will be unveiled alongside the brand’s North American introductions of the GLA 250 and the S63. Porsche has added two new world debuts to its lineup, in addition to its highly-anticipated SUV crossover vehicle, the Macan. BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Land Rover, MINI, Subaru and Toyota are also planning global introductions for the auto show. The Connected Car Expo (CCE) is a three-day trade show, held in conjunction with Press Days, that showcases the convergence of technology and the automobile. Following Press Days, the LA Auto Show opens its doors to the public and welcomes approximately 900,000 visitors over ten exciting days.

Petersen Automotive Museum

Photo courtesy of Carsten Knoch, Flickr

For car enthusiasts, the Petersen Automotive Museum is a must-see any time of the year, with permanent exhibits focused on hot rods, famous movie and TV cars, and much more. One of the Petersen's current exhibits appeals to car enthusiasts and designers alike - Fins: Form Without Function is a retrospective look at this curious design detail's history, which surprisingly dates back further than the '50s. The exhibit opened in February 2013 and runs through February 2, 2014. Pickups: The Art of Utility explores how trucks were originally envisioned as workhorse vehicles, but evolved to be more personalized and upscale — something that makes a statement about their owners. The exhibit runs through April 6, 2014. Kids will enjoy Discovery Hour, the Petersen’s weekly, interactive activity hour for families with children under 6. Every Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., the Petersen hosts staff-led games, storytelling, scavenger hunts and races in the Discover Center, located on the third floor. Discovery Hour is free for museum members and included in admission for non-members. No RSVP is needed, and activities are subject to change. Info: 323.964.6308.

The Nethercutt Collection

The Nethercutt Collection | Photo courtesy of evdropkick, Flickr

Founded in 1971 by J.B. and Dorothy Nethercutt, The Nethercutt Collection features rare collectibles ranging from mechanical musical instruments and antique furniture to the heart of the collection: over 250 American and European automobiles dating from 1898 to 1997. Unique to automobile museums, each car on display is attentively serviced and maintained to remain as drivable as when the vehicle originally rolled off the showroom floor. On view are various Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance winners, and cars that were once owned by movie stars, royalty and other notable figures. The Nethercutt Automotive Research Library and Archives, one of the world’s top automotive research facilities, is housed within the museum. Also located on site are a restored steam locomotive and a railcar. The Nethercutt Collection is located in the Sylmar neighborhood of the San Fernando Valley. Admission is free.

Automobile Driving Museum

Austin-Healey 3000 Roadster | Photo courtesy of ADM

The Automobile Driving Museum (ADM) is the only museum of its kind in the world that invites visitors to actually take a ride in a classic or collectible car. The ADM displays a rotating collection of 130 classic, antique and vintage automobiles. The museum occupies over an acre of land and has 40,000 square feet for automobile display, storage, repair, and restoration. The ADM also has large meeting rooms and party spaces available for rent. On Sundays, visitors can ride with docent drivers in a dream vehicle on public streets near LAX. Guests can expect to ride in anything from Joseph Stalin’s 1936 Packard to a 1982 DeLorean. Rides take place from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for museum visitors ages 10 and older.

MIdway Car Rental

Photo courtesy of Midway Car Rental, Facebook

Of course, riding in a car - even if it’s a classic - isn’t as much fun as getting behind the wheel and hitting the road. With 13 locations (including LAX), Midway Car Rental offers more than 80 makes and models to suit every budget, from compacts and SUVs to the Platinum Collection, which includes luxury marques such as Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.

You’ve got your ride, but where are you going to put it through its paces? LA Tourism has gathered some of the city’s best driving routes in its guide to Scenic Drives in LA. Don't miss the video of LA's "hidden race track," which your celebrity tour guide compares to Germany's famed Nürburgring.