Last week my dad was in town, mainly so we could attend a NASCAR race at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (while a historic location and event, it won’t be featured on the blog, but you can see a few snaps on Instagram), however we also went to Disneyland and visited a few museums, including the Petersen Automotive Museum.
This wasn’t my first time to the Petersen, and while my last visit was a couple of years ago, a lot had changed. The Petersen has a lot to offer, and often can’t display everything they have, so they rotate cars, in addition to special, limited engagement exhibits, which during our visit was Bond in Motion, a collection of various cars (and more) seen in the James Bond films.
What is truly great about the Petersen is its depth and range, showcasing very early horseless carriages, race cars, motorcycles, off-road vehicles, various “dream cars” of the 1950s and 60s, including glorious concept art, the rough road of the electric car, stunning hypercars, and much, much more.
During my previous visit, I arrived eager to see the Dale prototype that I knew the museum had in their Vault. Sadly, when viewing the Vault then I did not see the vehicle, nor did I see it on the museum floor. My dad and I toured the Vault during this visit and once again I did not see the Dale, and my heart sank. I even said aloud, “I hope it is on the museum floor, especially since there recently was a docu-series and transgender issues have come more to the forefront lately.” As we toured the remaining three floors of the museum I was overjoyed to see the Dale, along with the car that inspired it, on display with great dedication to its area.
Some of you may remember the story from when we went to the car wash promoting the HBO docu-series, The Lady and the Dale, but I’ll give you a brief rundown of what makes this car so very interesting… In 1973 the United States was met with its first oil crisis, and in 1974 Dale Clifft, an engineer living in the San Fernando Valley attempted to create a fuel efficient car, combining motorcycle parts and custom made elements, he dubbed it the Commutercycle. This failed, and when Liz Carmichael met Clifft, she decided to make another fuel efficient car, and name it after Clifft, dubbing it the “Dale” under her Twentieth Century Motor Car Company. With three wheels, and claiming to get 70 miles to the gallon, the Dale received a lot of attention and interest, with Carmichael collected over $2 million from eager investors. After the murder of one of Twentieth Century’s salesmen, the company got even more attention, and soon investigators found out the prototypes were not much more than a fiberglass body with a generator engine, and doors put on with house door hinges. Twentieth Century Motor Car Company was ordered by the California Superior Court to produce a working model, and that is when Carmichael fled. She returned to her home to see her children and was arrested in 1977. Her identity as as a transgender woman was outed without her consent when she was put on trial, where she was found guilty of multiple counts of grand theft, fraud and conspiracy. After posting a $50,000 bail, she disappeared. It wasn’t until a 1989 episode of Unsolved Mysteries aired that she was found. A viewer recognized Carmichael as a woman who had a flower business in Texas, and she was arrested, put on trial, and served 18 months in prison. If you’re curious to learn more about this unique piece of automotive and transgender history, I highly recommend the docu-series The Lady and the Dale on HBO.
I am a big James Bond fan, and was excited that my dad’s visit fell while the Bond in Motion exhibit was going on. My dad introduced me to James Bond when I was ten with Diamonds Are Forever before my first visit to Las Vegas. Diamonds ranks among one of my favorites, so I was happy to see one of the Mustang Mach 1s used in the chase through Vegas, a total of three were used in the film. My mom’s favorite Bond film is On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which stars one of my favorite actresses, Diana Rigg, and it was neat to see her character’s car, the ’69 Mercury Cougar XR-7. While the older Bond films are great, I really love Daniel Craig’s Bond, with Skyfall being my absolute favorite, and it was neat to see some of the new Aston Martins from the Craig films, including the 2006 DBS that set a new record for most cannon rolls when it crashed in Casino Royale, as well as the Aston from No Time to Die.
One of my favorite LA museums, the Petersen is located along Miracle Mile at 6060 Wilshire Boulvard. Visit the website for further details on the Petersen, including ticket sales. It should be noted that the Vault is a separate ticket, and one I recommend if you are wanting to see Ed Roth’s iconic Outlaw, a real Tucker, and film cars such as Christine from Christine, the DeLorean from Back to the Future, and Greased Lighting from Grease, along with many more amazing cars. Sadly, photography is not allowed inside the Vault. Additionally, the website doesn’t state when the Bond exhibit will be leaving, but I recommend a visit sooner rather than later!