Every once in a while, I will make an investigatory trip to a location that (usually) I haven’t been before. The purpose is to determine if the venue makes a great meet-up for the Modern Sports Cars of Arizona group.
These scouting trips, as I’ve dubbed them, are especially important if the destination is more than an hour or two each way, or if the destination is out of state or out of country.
This last scouting trip in April 2019 was in a sense the second half of my first Petersen Museum (Los Angeles, CA, USA) trip in 2017. This trip last April was to see The Museum Vault, which I didn’t have time for during my first trip to the Museum.
Scouting trips may or may not include other MSCA members. However, if they do, those members are veterans member who have been on longer group drives with the MSCA in the past.
We try to get a sense of the driving, the route to the destination, how long the trip will take, accommodations, and cost.
I rented a base 2017 Mustang EcoBoost in fetching silver from Phoenix Sky Harbor airport (PHX). I could have rented from less further away from home. However, logistically, it would save me time getting on the road west.
It looked great in silver and I was loving the Apple CarPlay as well. However, after about a couple of hours driving, I noticed this Mustang was unlike any other I had driven since 2015. Not in a good way either. I noticed there was a ridiculous amount of drive train lash, with the automatic transmission. This was even more pronounced shifting the transmission from drive to reverse, and vice-versa
Unfortunately it was far enough into the drive, that it would have been impractical to turn back. So, I decide to live with it, and monitor the behavior during the trip. Worst case scenario, I could deal with it once I got to Cali.
During my 2017 trip to the Petersen Museum, I stayed further out of Los Angeles, than I otherwise would have, because I was there on other business as well. Still, the good thing about having stayed in the San Bernardino area, was a cheaper hotel than I would get in L.A. proper, in exchange for my time on the road. No such thing as a free lunch.
On the April 2019 trip, I had more time, and flexibility, and so I enlisted another MSCA member and California native, to take the long way round. Day one was spent with a detour through San Diego via Arizona, US 8.
Day two took us up Pacific Coast Highway, and Orange County, where we parted ways, and I continued on to Los Angeles. Metro California requires a lot of stop-and-go traffic driving so I’m glad I spent a bit more time to stay in Santa Monica This happened to be within 20 minutes to both a old friend I was there to see, as well as the Petersen Museum.
The Vault at the Petersen Museum is the private collection that you pay a slight premium above the general tour admission price. It’s located in the basement of the building, and took my group about an hour and a half, to walk through.
I skipped the general tour, as I’d been through it on my first trip, and chose just the Vault this time.
The Vault tours are in groups spaced about every couple of hours or so. I was able to catch the first group just as they headed down by the elevators.
My tour was led by a docent who was well versed in not only the automobiles’ histories, but their mechanics as well. He managed a good mix of questions-and-answers with humor, plus good trivia sprinkled in.
No photography is allowed in the Vault, as well as no touching of the vehicles. It’s understandable why. Some of the vehicle are truly one-of-a-kind. Including cars once owned by both the famous (i.e. Cary Grant) as well as the infamous (e.g. Saddam Hussein).
There were also vehicles that showed the innovative thinking of their time, including the placement and mechanics of doors and hood ornaments. Plus one gold-plated DeLorean.
By the time we were finished, it was just in time for lunch, and reflection.
The Ride Home
After a nice dinner and rest in Santa Monica, I hit the I-10 first thing after sunrise the next morning. Once I was out of the stop-and-go of morning, urban Californian traffic, it was decent driving with nice weather all the way back to Phoenix. I only wish the Mustang had been in better shape. Still, I love the 2015-and on design, and it was nice to be driving the icon at proper highways speeds with few cars on a weekday late morning.
I was able to get the Mustang back to the rental company at PHX airport in just over five and a half hours, including a stop for lunch.
I think I may try to put this venue on the meet-up rotation for either late 2019 or early 2020. We shall see.