FX Excursions

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4 Car-Focused Destinations to Drive the Imagination

by Elyse Glickman

Dec 5, 2023

© Rosemari Vasilica Tiganila | Dreamstime.com


Automotive museums of all sizes will always capture the imaginations of car and racing aficionados. However, the best deliver a lot of substance beyond the machine itself. Some place an emphasis on science and technology or history, while others display iconic cars from film and television. Museums established and operated by the world’s top automakers (think Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Porsche in Germany, and Toyota, Honda and Nissan in Japan) have built-in followings.

There are automotive museums engineered to offer excitement to people of all ages. Visitors can get behind the wheel of antique and futuristic cars, embrace one’s inner race car driver, go underneath the hood (and beyond) to explore a car’s inner workings and even consider ways cars can become more environmentally sound. Here are a few interesting destinations truly greater than the sum of their parts:

Autostadt (aka Car City) was specially designed through German engineering to be the ultimate automotive immersion. The nearly 70-acre complex integrates a “ZeitHaus” covering automotive history, the newest models from world-renowned auto makers and personnel who can book factory tours or an off-road course experience. There are also exclusive experiences specific to this museum, such as artist Olafur Eliasson’s scent tunnel, a driving simulator and rooms allowing guests to try their hand at designing cars on computers. Guided tours for adults, families and kids are available to generate a greater appreciation of the dynamic invention.

Motorcar Museum of Japan
Toyota and Nissan’s automotive museums in Japan are awash with fascinating race cars, everyday cars from different eras and boldly designed interactive features. However, Motorcar Museum of Japan, opened in 1978, is considered the mother of Japan’s car museums. Located in Komatsu City in Ishikawa Prefecture (roughly three hours by car from Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka) on Japan’s west coast, the elegant red-brick building houses more than 500 vehicles on permanent display and remains the country’s largest museum dedicated to automobiles, with three floors with cars displayed in thematic sections.

Ferrari Museum
With the recent release of the motion picture Ferrari, Ferrari Museum in Maranello
promises to race to the front of Italy’s impressive collection of automotive museums. In addition to the sleek, stylish display of Ferrari cars spanning the company’s history to futuristic models, there is a shuttle tour of the Ferrari factory, and, for an additional admission fee, an opportunity to “drive” a Formula 1 Ferrari in a professional racing simulator along some of the most famous circuits in the world.

America’s Car Museum

The United States has amazing car museums from coast to coast, including the entertainment-fueled Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles and Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. However, the aptly named LeMay-America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington, is wholly dedicated to America’s enduring love affair with the automobile and how it shaped different aspects of society. The 165,000-square-foot facility serves as an educational center for students of all ages and features 12 rotating exhibits.





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