October 10, 2018 —

By Larry Mason, www,carsandcompetition.com

Copyright © 2018 Larry Mason

Los Angeles, CA: I had the great pleasure of getting an insider’s look at some of the coolest, rarest, fastest, and most unique cars in the world on the longest day of the year in the basement of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. “The Vault Presented by Hagerty” includes more than 250 vehicles including movie cars and motorcycles. This heretofore unseen area opened to the public on June 1 and is sure to be a hit for any gearhead or car fanatic.

I had the good fortune to look at these cars and hear about some of the history and valuation of these vehicles by walking through The Vault with Philippe de Lespinay, (President of TopLine Media International), who is extremely knowledgeable on seemingly every classic car, race car and motorcycle we saw – and we saw plenty.

Dozens and dozens of cars provide sensory overload, from a horseless carriage to a McLaren P1. Classic movie cars include everything from the Grease Lightning special from “Grease”to the Reynard Indy car from “Driven.” Interesting one-offs abound, such as the University of Michigan’s solar racer, to the Dale which was a prototype three-wheel, two-seat sports car aimed at taking on GM during the 1973 fuel crisis. According to Wikipedia, Geraldine Elizabeth Carmichael was a con artist behind this car and was eventually caught and sent to prison – but not before she had conned investors out of “millions” of dollars.

Gorgeous Bugattis, the “Pope-mobile” and numerous other cars once used for heads of state fill just a small portion of this massive basement. Make sure to plan for enough time to visit, as we only saw about half of this phenomenal collection before we were escorted out at the end of the day.

For docent-led tours and other information on The Vault, please visit:

From there, we met up with Bob Nagy, who used to be a writer for Motor Trend magazine before he moved on to Kelley Blue Book. We went upstairs to hear a panel discussion on “The Future of Driving,” with speakers McKeel Hagerty (CEO of Hagerty), Bisi Ezerioha (CEO and Chief Engineer of Bisimoto Engineering), and Brian Scotto (Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Hoonigan Industries). The panel was moderated by Larry Webster (VP of Content for Hagerty).

Webster provided questions to the panel about how to keep interest up in driving as the industry shifts towards autonomous vehicles, and with technology the way it’s integrated today. Hagertyoffered up a story about his college-aged daughter who had two friends in school who didn’ thave their driver’s license and had no interest in one either – until he let his daughter take them on a cross-country road trip in a 1967 Camaro.

The bottom line for most of the discussion was getting kids involved in cars. Whether it be a classic muscle car, exotic, home-built hot rod or even a nice road trip, the point is to get them hands-on and involved, to help plant the seeds for future automotive enthusiasts.

To watch this presentation, please visit:

Photos by Larry Mason

The Mercer and Regal are two of the first cars you’ll see as you enter The Vault. Notice that the Mercer has the leaf springs under the frame and the Regal has the leaf springs over the frame.

The Dale has a notorious history.

Head-of-State cars and the Pope-mobile are on the left, movie cars are on the right, including Herbie, the Mach V, and Grease Lightning, with the Ford GT and GT40 street and race cars in the foreground.