My Car Quest

December 8, 2023

Muscle Car Cruise In At The Petersen Automotive Museum

by Wallace Wyss –

You hafta admit, sometimes it all comes together. Here was muscle car day at the Petersen Automotive Museum and who founded this wonderful museum but Robert. E. Petersen, who founded a publishing empire (Hot Rod Motor Trend et al) and built it into an over $500 million empire.

Petersen began collecting cars early on but didn’t think of a museum until his collection outgrew his Beverly Hills garage.

De Tomaso P70

The De Tomaso P70, designed by Pete Brock, started out as a joint project between the fiery Argentine and Shelby. I think there’s more than one, have never seen it on a track.

This event was billed as a muscle car cruise in, but this particular time about 85% of the cars were Fords of all types, mostly Shelbys, Mustangs, Ford GT40s and Cobras. Of the latter, a good many, but maybe not all, were replicas, made by companies like Superformance.

The state of art of replicas is getting so good that even the experts (I could try to claim that I was one because of authoring three books on Shelby) but I’m the first to admit I’m not an exert compared to most of the spectators there.

Ford GT40

This GT40 is maybe one from the movie.

I attribute the rush of interest in all things Shelby to the fact that the movie Ford v Ferrari was a smash hit, earning back its $100 million cost in less than two months.

Some of the replicas there had the same racing numbers painted on the side as the real ones did back in ’64 at the Targa Florio or Le Mans.

A real moment at this Petersen event of deja vu was the moment when Charlie Againpou and his brother Kerry walked by. I recognized Charlie and called him over to look at my buddy’s denim jacket, one which I designed, with a painting of three guys and a 289 Cobra on the back. On the left was Charlie, in the driver’s seat was Bondurant, and on the right side was “Rem” Phil Remington.

Charlie’s wife bought the jacket right off my friend’s back. A little later I saw a tall lanky dude with a familiar grin. Not Carroll Shelby, but his grandson, Arron, and gave him the portrait I painted of his grandfather.

Ford GT40

Ford GT40 – seemed to have a more duckbill shaped nose than what I remembered

So it was a little like ‘Old home week’ at the Petersen for those in the Shelby American community. Especially the panel discussion which had Charle Agaipou, Pete Brock (Daytona Cobra designer), a former Shelby employee who had bought the team’s Lola GT coupe (used for testing GT40 parts) AJ Baime, the author of Go Like Hell (not used for the movie Ford v Ferrari despite early publicity), and a documentarian who made yet another documentary on Shelby American.

Shelby Cobra CSX 2001

Shelby Cobra CSX 2001 owned by Bruce Meyer

There was one new Ford GT but I still preferred the old ones, even if they were replicas. Some were right from the movie, even carrying dirt from filming (maybe you can buy spray on dirt?)

Shelby Cobra

Many of the paint jobs wore old racing livery from more than 60 years ago but I’d have to see the SN and rap on the body (aluminum or fiberglass) before I could pronounce “real” or “unreal”…

There were some books for sale and I think it’s coming–the growth in interest in Shelby American sparked by the movie and the two documentaries by Adam Carolla and his partner, Nate Adams.

The panel discussion was delightful, the speakers in a good mood to tell some tales of the good old days, even joking about how many times Shelby was married. Everyone seems to have lost count (and yet in the feature film, they never even show him in the company of a female!).

Much of the credit for this emphasis on Shelby goes to Bruce Meyer, a key man at the Petersen who happens to own Shelby Cobra CSX2001, the first Cobra sold to the public. He knew Shelby and the whole crew back in the day and has worked with Hollywood to get the story told (in fact one of his Ferraris is in the Ferrari factory scene in the movie).

I poked my nose in the museum and was impressed with the latest re-decorating and the rooms set aside for Art Center studio and another called the Mullin, named after the founder of a very upscale French car museum in Oxnard.

Parking is a bit of a bear there. You either park in the lot, and pay, but be careful street parking immediately around the Museum because there’s ticketing for parking there, even on Sunday!

Petersen Event

I felt like I was in the pits at Le Mans when I reached out above the highest wall at Petersen and shot this lineup on the usual parking place for a car show.

There was also a broadcast of the 24 Hours of Daytona.

In sum, it was a fun event and I look forward to a new surge of Shelby fans inspired by the movie, and hope they all get a chance to hear the former employees talk about the good old days at future Ford-heavy events.

Visit the Petersen’s web site here.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss taking commissions on a series of oil paintings of significant GT40s and Cobras in combat. The list is available by writing


Lancia Stratos Zero

Inside the Museum they now have digital graphic screens behind many of he cars on display. This was the one off Lancia Stratos Zero bought when Bertone, the coachbuilder, went belly-up.

Wallace Wyss

Why am I the only guy at a Shelby show wearing a cowboy hat. Even Aaron Shelby, a gen-u-ine certified dyed-in-the-wool Texan, wasn’t wearing one…Maybe nobody commented on it because it had a print of my painting of a Ferrari, complete with Enzo. There was a long tail Porsche prototype there, so just like in racing, Shelby had some competition.

Petersen Event and Shelby Cobra

When I started out writing about Cobras in ’77 the big blocks got all the attention but now that the history is being told anew, there’s more attention to small blocks who did much of the heavy work in winning for Shelby.

All photos by Wallace Wyss.

Muscle Car Cruise In At The Petersen Automotive Museum
Article Name
Muscle Car Cruise In At The Petersen Automotive Museum
This Petersen event was billed as a muscle car cruise in, but this particular time about 85% of the cars were Fords of all types, mostly Shelbys, Mustangs, Ford GT40s and Cobras.


  1. Wallace, I agree with you about that duckbill nose on what looks like an early GT40 here. And I’ve just checked my copy of the Brooklands Books book covering facsimiles of road tests and magazine articles for the Ford GT40 from 1964 to 1978. The book opens with an article from Road and Track from June 1964, and a quick comparison of the pictures there and in other articles about the early days of the GT40 supports your observation..

  2. Bruce Meyer says

    Thanks for this article…it was a very special day indeed. The Petersen hosts events like this every chance we get and what makes it work, is when the word gets out and the enthusiasts attend…it’s ALL about the people. Thanks again Michael and Wally…Never Lift…

  3. Eric Schulhof says

    I am looking forward to attending an upcoming Cruise In at the Petersen. I assume all these cars were NOT driven down Wilshire Blvd – but rather towed in. Does the Petersen allow the trucks and trailers in to unload the trailed cars and provide parking for the trucks and trailers during the Cruise In?

    • wallace wyss says

      I saw some trucks parked outside very early in the am, say 7 am, but they weren’t there by 9 am so they must unload first and then park the tow rig further away. I would try to reach them in advnce to see what provisions they have to park your tow rig.

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