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The San Diego Automotive Museum

San Diego, California


  • traffic pointers Don't forget the video at the end!

I love old cars. One of my favorite places to visit is car museums, along with train  museums, airplane museums and military museums. Anyway, this is a great museum if you are into cars. Unfortunately, the museum was being remodeled while we were there and only about half of the exhibits were being shown. I look forward to going back after they complete the remodeling.

The San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park in San Diego, California is a museum that features a collection of cars and motorcycles that highlight automotive culture throughout history. The San Diego Automotive Museum, a non-profit corporation under IRS section 501(c), is housed in the former California State Building, built for the 1935-36 California Pacific International Exposition.
San Diego Automotive Museum
The mission of the Museum is to tell the story of the social and technological past, present, and future of motorized vehicles through its collections, exhibitions, and educational programs.

After spending approximately $1 million renovating and upgrading the building, the San Diego Automotive Museum opened in December of 1988. Since then millions of local auto enthusiasts and tourists from all over the world have visited this world-class collection. Today the museum stands as a living tribute to the automobile and what it has meant to our culture.

Some of the signature cars in the collection are: Louie Mattar's Car, a 1947 Cadillac that was driven non-stop from Alaska to Mexico City and across the United States; aSan Diego Automotive Museum 1948 Tucker (#19); and a 1969 Fiat 500 that is referred to as "Luigi". Exhibits are rotated every three months to bring in cars of different types or eras.

This building served as the California State Building during the second exposition. It was once adorned with colorful canvas murals created by Juan Larrinaga. A more Spartan building now remains housing the San Diego Automotive Museum. The museum showcases the dominant transportation vehicle of the 20th century, with rotating displays from other automobile exhibitors, as well as classics from their own permanent collection.

The original idea of creating an automotive museum in Balboa Park came from Briggs Cunningham, a renowned automobile and racer. The idea circulated for many yearsSan Diego Automotive Museum until an inspired group of local automotive enthusiasts propelled the idea forward. In 1979 the San Diego City Council first considered the issue and in 1980 they gave unanimous approval to the museum and granted a long term lease for one of the historic buildings in the jewel of San Diego - Balboa Park.

Daily 10AM - 5PM
Free Tuesday - 10AM - 4PM

San Diego Automobile Museum
Balboa Park
2080 Pan American Plaza
San Diego, California

San Diego Automotive Museum