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Arts and Entertainment

Photos: A 24K Gold DeLorean, Sinatra's Car & More Rarities At The Petersen Vault

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The newly redesigned Petersen Auto Museum has just reopened its legendary vault, giving visitors a chance to tour a huge trove of rare and historic cars.

Hidden beneath the museum, the Peterson Vault offers an entire city block's worth of automotive history, featuring more than 120 famous and infamous vehicles. On the new private tour, the Petersen gives you an up-close and the opportunity to learn about everything from a 24k gold-plated DeLorean to the first-ever bulletproof presidential limo (used by FDR). From custom hot rods to elegant Art Deco-inspired rides, cars driven by movie stars on and off-screen, and even a Popemobile, there's plenty for everyone to explore. And the museum's tour guides provide the fascinating histories and fun facts behind the collection.

The Vault affords the museum space to store, protect and restore their massive collection and to keep vehicles in prime condition for future exhibits. Taking the tours through the space allows you to peer behind the curtain and see tons of stunning and historic vehicles in what feels like somebody's secret bunker.

"Even after the renovation when we opened up the third floor as a display space, we only have room for 135 cars on display in the museum," explains the Petersen's Executive Director Terry L. Karges in a release about the Vault. "That leaves over 300 vehicles we cannot display in the museum—all with incredible stories that need telling."

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LAist was invited to tour The Vault and get a look at the expansive collection. One of our favorite highlights was, of course, the gold-plated DeLorean, one of only two built by the company for a special American Express promotion (there's a third custom job in existence) . We also enjoyed seeing Frank Sinatra's 1965 Barris-customized Zebra Mustang, which has faux-zebra fur on both the interior and exterior, as well as a small TV in the console. Very groovy, Old Blue Eyes.

The Petersen Automotive Museum is located at 6060 Wilshire Blvd., Miracle Mile, (323) 930-2277. Vault tour tickets are $20 and must be purchased with a general admission ticket. Children under 13 are not permitted on vault tours, sorry kids. More information and tickets can be found here.

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