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Photos: Hot Rods & Pixar 'Cars' At The Redesigned Petersen Auto Museum

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The freshly redesigned Petersen Automotive Museum is finally reopening and we got a chance to peek under the shiny new hood.

After a $90 million, 14-month-long overhaul, the renovated Petersen is revved up and ready to open its doors to the public once again. You've likely seen the new reflective ribbons of steel, wrapped around the building's bright red exterior as you've passed by on Wilshire Boulvevard—a bold design that has already earned fans and detractors. But, once inside, you'll have the chance to check out a remarkable collection of vintage vehicles, Hollywood classics and cool, new interactive exhibits, including one featuring Pixar's Cars.

The museum will host a limited-admission, $200-a-ticket preview this Sunday, and then officially reopen for general admission at regular prices ($15 for adults, $12 for students and seniors) on Monday. LAist was invited to a preview so we could bring you an early look as to what's in store.

The remodeled museum features nearly twice as much space as the previous incarnation, which first opened on June 11, 1994. There's now an additional floor, 25 new galleries and 12,000 square feet more of gallery space to show off over 100 cars, motorcycles, scooters and other modes of transport, including a bobsled. From a 1886 Benz Motorwagen—considered the first self-propelled vehicle—to the Aston Martin DB10—featured in the latest Bond film, Spectre—there's a huge range of vehicles that are fun to explore even if you're not a motorhead or car geek.

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The 'Little Miss Sunshine' VW van (Photo by Eugene Lee/LAist)
Each floor of thoughtfully and spaciously arranged galleries features an overall theme as well as distinct exhibits on each, many of which will rotate periodically. Movie lovers will definitely want to head straight up to the third floor, which focuses on history. There you'll find everything from the Batmobile (circa 1989 Batman) and Magnum's Ferrari to the VW bus from Little Miss Sunshine and the Pontiac Aztek from Breaking Bad, as well as cars driven by stars, including Elvis. You'll also see beautiful examples of concept cars from over the years, cars built in and made famous in L.A. and learn plenty of history with huge, interactive touchscreens.

The second floor focuses on the automotive industry and features a fun interactive Pixar Cars exhibit. Kids of all ages can learn about the inner-workings of cars and take a tour through the floor with a tablet featuring characters from the movie who guide you through the exhibits. You'll also find Hot Rods, motorcycles, a design studio space for students from Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design, and racing simulators called “the Forza Motorsport Racing Experience."


1900 Smith Runabout built in Los Angeles (Photo by Eugene Lee/LAist)
As you make your way down the beautifully designed spiral staircases that replaced the escalators, you'll make your way to the ground floor where the current exhibit features French Art Deco cars. The "Rolling Sculpture" collection features stunning Bugattis and other luxurious classics from the 1930s and 1940s. The ground floor also features a gift shop where you can pick up everything from racing jackets to toys from the movie Cars before you head out. Eventually, you'll also be able to grab a bite to eat when Drago opens on the first floor this coming spring.

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The Petersen Automotive Museum is located at 6060 Wilshire Blvd., Miracle Mile, (323) 930-2277. More information and tickets can be found here.