The Cars of San Sylmar
When: The museum is open 9:00 am – 4:30 pm, Tuesday through Saturday. Tours of the collection are available Thursday, Friday & Saturday by reservation only.
Where: 15200 Bledsoe Street, San Sylmar, CA 91342
Contact: (818) 364-6464
Not to Miss: The Nethercutt Collection’s Mezzanine of automobile mascots and hood ornaments.
The Golden Ages of Motoring
The Nethercutt Museum offers a walk through the history of the automobile, showcasing over 130 pre-1970 cars broken into categories based on era of production. Early electric, steam, and internal combustion engines compose the Antique Era exhibition, showcasing coach-built designs both Phaeton and close-bodied. The supremacy and increasing efficiency of gas engines is the story of the Vintage Era, with affordable offerings from American manufacturers dominating the market.
The museum’s Classic Era display boasts a Bugatti Type 51 and a two-tone Talbot-Lago Type 150, exemplars of the swooping fenders and airflow lines popular in the 30s. The post-war era sees American fins alongside the emergence of exotic car marques like Ferrari, and the continually refined offerings of Rolls-Royce. All four exhibits offer a fine medley of mainstream and special interest automobiles, many of which have been lauded at prestigious concours like Pebble Beach. A public research library on the premises offers a database for the cars on display, as well as a vast collection of promotional materials and trade journals, as well as engineering and design documents.
A Collection of History
Next door, The Nethercutt Collection occupies the former residence of the eponymous museum, and makes up for its lack of size with a brilliant display of technology and art from the first forty years of the 20th century. Chief among the collection is a carefully curated assortment of pre-war cars, from distinguished Duesenbergs to coach-built Delahayes, that further embellish the Grand Salon’s opulent interior of well polished marble and swaying chandeliers. The high ceilings are vaulted and muraled, with ornate balconies overlooking the acre of fine motor coaches.
The third floor boasts a display of vintage automotive mascots, including a number of rare, delicate hood ornaments made of brushed Lalique crystal. The final exhibit takes a step away from the Bentleys and Bugattis while remaining mechanically-inclined, featuring a score of beautiful musical instruments, including an organ with 5,000 pipes.