San Diego Automotive Museum

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2080 Pan American Plaza, San Diego, CA 92101
|
Open:
Daily 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
From the first roads to the most unique vehicles ever to travel the roads of America, the San Diego Automotive Museum has it all. Plan your visit today!
San Diego Automotive Museum
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Learn How Motorized Vehicles Have Changed the World

San Diego Automotive Museum has one mission: to tell the world how motorized vehicles have changed the social and technological world in the past and how it is expected to do so in the future.

A renowned automobile collector named Briggs Cunningham originally brought up the idea of the museum, although it took many years before the idea came to fruition. The museum finally opened in 1988 and today operates as a non-profit corporation.

Individuals and groups alike flock to Balboa Park each year to take in the museum's permanent and changing exhibits, attend a variety of events, and much more.

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What to Expect When You Visit

Expect lots of fun when you visit the San Diego Automotive Museum. From the 1927 Bentley to the 1931 Rolls Royce, you'll learn about individual cars, renowned companies, and unique individuals who have made the automotive industry what it is today.

There is a variety of exhibits from the classic Indian Motorcycles to perfectly preserved cars from the 1920’s.

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What is a Go San Diego Pass?

The Go San Diego Pass allows visitors to experience more attractions while simultaneously saving money.

With the pass, you can visit San Diego’s top attractions like the San Diego Zoo or LEGOLAND, all while saving up to 55% off on admissions. Plus, the pass gives you the ability to skip the line when visiting select attractions.

Exhibits & Attractions

The San Diego Automotive Museum has a wide range of attractions that includes permanent and visiting exhibits, educational opportunities, and much more.

Barn Find

Imagine opening a barn door and finally a perfectly preserved classic car. Many collectors dream of it, but few accomplish it.

Museum visitors get the chance at that feeling, though, by visiting the Barn Find exhibit. Although not in perfect condition, the 1928 Studebaker sat in a shed in Imperial Beach for more than four decades and has all of its parts on-site.

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Signature Cars
One of the signature cars in the collection is Louie Mattar's Fabulous Car, a 1947 Cadillac that was driven non-stop from Alaska to Mexico City and across the United States.

Harley-Davidson Collection

William S. Harley drew his first motorcycle engine plans in 1901. Today, Harley-Davidson is one of the most known names in the motorcycle community and beyond. The museum's collection takes a look at the history of Harley-Davidson and some of its most popular work of the 1900s.

Indian Motorcycles

1901 wasn't just the year of Harley-Davidson's origin. Indian Motorcycles was also taking off during this year. A designer and engineer named Carl Oscar Hedstrom, along with his partner George M Hendee, provides the first motorized bike. The museum exhibit takes a look at Indian Motorcycles' history, including its relaunch in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, in 2008.

International Motorcycles

From classic designs to high-end bikes, the museum's large collection of international motorcycles takes a look at bikes from around the world.

Louie Mattar's Fabulous Car

Did you know that you can drive from San Diego to New York and back without stopping? If you don't believe it, all you need to do is look up Louie Mattar.

The San Diego Automotive Museum's exhibit teaches you all about Louie Mattar's Fabulous Car. He built his dream Cadillac in 1952 and proceeded to make a 6,320-mile trip without stopping, fueling from a moving gas truck as needed. His car was even equipped with a stove, refrigerator, sink, and all the other necessities of home, all stored under the cushions!

Plank Road

Created in the early 1900s, Plank Road was a necessity for those who traveled through the hot desert and high sand dunes of Imperial County. The single-lane road was not without issues, though, including traffic jams and needing to pull off to let other drivers pass in the opposite direction.

Despite its dangers, people who traveled the road always considered it an adventure, and some people even took picnics with them as they traveled the road purely for amusement. The museum's display teaches you more about the road's history and importance.

Steve McQueen

Whether for his acting or his racing of motorcycles and automobiles, most people have heard the name Steve McQueen. He began racing a used Harley in the early 1950s as a way to earn extra cash until his acting career took off, and by the 1970s, he was a well-known racer and the world's highest paid actor.

The Steve McQueen exhibit takes a look at his life on the road and behind the cameras.

That 70's Car Show

The 1970s were known as the decade of change, and the automobile industry was literally along for the ride. The 70s Car Show exhibits how cars and fuel advanced (along with their prices) throughout the decade, where they became more economical, and how the United States caught up with foreign car manufacturers.

Educational Programs

San Diego's Automotive Museum provides a variety of educational opportunities, the most popular of which is its field trips. Student groups learn about the history of the building, the museum, and the exhibits as they are guided through the grounds.

Summer camps, teacher resources, and a library with more than 60,000 books, magazines, manuals, and more are also available.

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Purchase your Tickets Ahead of Time

It is a good idea to purchase your tickets ahead of time.

If you purchase a Go San Diego Card you can get a discount to not only many museums’, including the San Diego Automotive Museum, but to over 55 other attractions and activities including the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld San Diego to mention a few. This discount card saves you up to 55% off of regular admission costs. You can even get an additional discount if you purchase the Go San Diego Card through our website.

Arrive Early

Last admission is at 4:30 p.m. daily and the museum closes at 5 p.m. We suggest you arrive early so you can take your time and discover this museum.

Have a Group of People?

Special tours are available for groups of 10 or more.

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