Imagine sinking into the seat of a new Corvette and feeling the leather on the steering wheel. The start/stop button flashes red, beckoning you to start the engine, and your adrenaline surges as you rev up.
Now imagine doing so from the comfort of your couch.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many events that automotive enthusiasts look forward to each year, such as the New York Auto Show, have been shelved.
Fortunately, there’s a way for enthusiasts to experience automobiles located thousands of miles away. Some of the world’s best car museums have opened their doors virtually – posting virtual tours and videos online – so you can check out their impressive collections from the comfort of your home. Here are some of the best.
Petersen Automotive Museum
Los Angeles, Calif.
The Petersen is a world-class auto museum, with more than 100 vehicles on display and countless events each year. Located in the Miracle Mile section of Los Angeles, the Petersen was fully remodeled in 2015. The museum keeps about half of its collection in the below-ground vault, which can normally be explored in person with a tour guide. Right now, however, you can watch a docent-led video tour of the vault on the museum’s website. The Petersen also shares daily automotive-related videos on its YouTube channel and you can explore the museum via Google Street View.
National Corvette Museum
Bowling Green, Ky.
Opened in 1994, the National Corvette Museum is located only a quarter of a mile from GM’s Bowling Green Assembly Plant, where the Chevrolet Corvette has been built since 1981. You can tour this Corvette-exclusive museum virtually thanks to Google Street View. You can also view this 360-degree panorama of damage created by a sinkhole in February 2014.
Antique Automobile Club of America Museum
Hershey isn’t just known for chocolate and roller coasters. The Antique Automobile Club of America Museum, located just a few minutes from Hersheypark, has an extensive collection of both modern and classic cars. It also has the world’s most comprehensive collection of 1948 Tucker automobiles, with three examples of the vehicle as well as the factory test chassis and an impressive amount of memorabilia.
Lane Motor Museum
When you think of Nashville, music usually comes to mind. However, the Lane Museum is a pleasant surprise for auto enthusiasts visiting Music City. More so than any other, the Lane is known for its offbeat car collection – especially its micro-cars, which are much smaller than any modern car we’re used to in the United States. You’re certain to find cars here that you may not find in other museums. You can check out their collection at Google Street View.
Gateway Auto Museum
Located in rural western Colorado, the Gateway has an impressive selection of classic cars, and a full virtual tour on its website. The walls inside the entrance are covered with nostalgic American automotive memorabilia, such as advertisements and map covers. You can even begin your virtual tour outside the museum, where more cars are lined up to greet you at the entrance.
The Henry Ford Museum
The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., is not only known for automobile history, but for its depiction of American history in general, with large exhibits on flight, famous inventors and even the American diner. It doesn’t exclusively feature Ford vehicles – you’ll find Hondas here too, among others.
Ford Piquette Avenue Plant
Not far away from Dearborn, you can take this virtual tour of the historic Ford Piquette Avenue Plant. The plant was founded by Henry Ford in 1903 and produced the first Model T before production was moved to a larger plant in 1910. Ford sold the building to Studebaker in 1911, which produced cars there until 1936. After 1936, the building had various industrial uses until it became a museum in 2001.
GM Heritage Center
Sterling Heights, Mich.
In the northern suburbs of Detroit, the GM Heritage Center has a large collection of historic General Motors vehicles representing the company’s varied and colorful past. The center is usually open for special events and groups. Its online presence includes historic brochures and commercials, broken out by make and model.
The Porsche Museum is on the bucket list of many a die-hard car enthusiast. Located at Porsche’s headquarters, the museum covers almost 90 years of the iconic car’s history. Many of the cars are pristine and still in driving condition. This virtual tour will make you feel like you’re there, surrounded by years of Porsche supercar history.
The Mercedes-Benz Museum occupies space in the same town as Porsche’s, and can also occupy your computer screen with various virtual visit options. You can immerse yourself in an Instagram tour of the museum, a full virtual tour, and links to YouTube videos about the museum, as well as the storied history of the company that produced the first automobile internal combustible engine.
Maranello and Modena, Italy
Besides its beautiful countryside and legendary food, Italy is also known for supercars – especially Ferrari. The supercar manufacturer has not one, but two museums – the Museo Ferrari in Maranello (adjacent to the company’s factory) and the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari in Modena celebrating the life and work of Enzo Ferrari, the company’s founder. Both are visible on Google Street View.
Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy
Lamborghini’s official museum is available for you to tour on Google Street view without having to make it to Northern Italy. Walk the halls virtually and explore the legendary models that Lamborghini is known for, including the Urus, currently Lamborghini’s only SUV.
Toyota hosts a large museum just outside of Nagoya, Japan, that celebrates not only the history of the company but of the automobile industry in general. You can tour all three floors of the museum.
Honda Collection Hall
The Honda Collection Hall in Motegi, Japan, represents the history of Honda, which covers not just automobiles, but lawn mowers, jet skis and other motorized vehicles as well.
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What did you think of the tours featured above? And which car museum would you most like to visit? Let us know in the comments below!
9 Thoughts on “The World’s Great Car Museums Are Just a Click Away”
One of the best car museums I have ever visited, a real gem and a trip back in time; is America’s Packard Museum in Dayton, Ohio.
The Simeone Foundation Atomotive Museum in Philadelphia is a great one too.
Hi Altair! Thank you for that recommendation as well! Here is the link for anyone interested: https://simeonemuseum.org/ -MM
I need basic info that is not out there. Want a google oculus but how to visit museums etc using a smart phone. Have never seen a HOW TO GET ready for Virtual entertainment. It would be a great article in the AAA MAGAZINE. designed for seniors who are not tech savey.
I would like to know if there is a VW museum and if they also have a virtual tour?
I would like to recommend a visit to the Heritage Museums and Gardens of Sandwich, Massachusetts, to explore the J.K. Lilly III Automobile Gallery, which contains some really spectacular examples of our automotive past. (I’m not really much of a “car person” but even I was wowed!) Go in person, in the future, or head to their website for a peek at some of their best. https://heritagemuseumsandgardens.org/exhibits/upcoming-carriage-to-classic-how-automobiles-transformed-america/
Hi Patricia! Great recommendation and thank you for your comment!-MM
Looking at the list of international car museums, I was expecting to also find the Musee Schlumpf in Mulhouse France. It has quite a collection of Buggatti’s and some really old cars at the end of the 19th century. It alos has some more modern ones like a Mercedes with wing doors from the 60s… All in all worth a visit.
Hi F Brandelik, great suggestion! Thank you for commenting! Below is a link for others to check it out. -MM