Sunday, February 22, 2015

Petersen Automotive Museum

As a car addicted male, I try to make it to as many automotive gatherings as possible. Be it an auto show, car museum, or the local meet, I am there.

I have been to automotive museums in Massachusetts, Florida, and California. When I was making plans to visit LA for the TCM Classic Film Festival, I set aside time to visit the Petersen Automotive Museum. The collection is one-of-kind with many rare cars from every era. As an added bonus, the Petersen has a special guided tour of their vault. It is an extra $20 on top of the admission fee. They could have charged $50 and would still be worth it. However, there is only one disappointing stipulation: no photos! Our tour guide explained the reason. Most of the cars have been photographed or seen in movies or on tv. The museum is concerned about thieves having an insiders guide to the security system.

While I was not allowed to take pictures, I was allowed to take notes on my phone of what they have:

1915 Buick
1922 Chevrolet
1982 Ferrari 308 GTS Targa used in Magnum p.i.
1953 Nash Healey used in Sabrina
1959 Corvette Italia 3 ever built
1955 Porsche Continental 356
1965 Porsche 356c
1933 Dusenberg SJ convertible with a 400hp, 8 liter (480 c.i.) 
1967 Toyota 2000GT
1928 Studebaker
1931 Pierce Arrow once owned by former race car driver,  Phil Hill
1929 Dupont Model M Speedster
1930 Packard
1936 Packard with a 175hp, 12 cylinder engine
1998 Popemobile, which cost $900K to build, but never used.
1976 Mercedes-Benz limosine once owned by Jack Nicholson
1978 Mercedes-Benz Lancelet once owned by Saddam Hussein
1956 Mercedes-Benz Gullwing
1960 Mercedes-Benz roadster once owned by Robert Stack
1941 Cadillac Series 62 given to Carole Lombard from Clark Gable
1965 Chrysler Imperial once owed by Katherine Hepburn
1957 Cadillac Premiere
1968 Chevrolet Biscayne with a 7 liter engine (427 c.i.)
1952 Ferrari Superleggera Barchetta, the last one built, from Enzo Ferrari to Henry Ford II
1955 Ford Thunderbird
1961 Rolls-Royce Phantom
1913 Rolls-Royce Ghost
1967 Ford GT Mark 3, one of seven street versions
2006 Ford GT
1969 Mustang GT 350
1992 Jaguar XJ220
1992 Dodge Viper, car #5
1923 Mercedes-Benz Targa Floria, with a 7.2 liter engine (439 c.i.)
1931 Cord, first front wheel drive sold in the US
1965 Mustang GT 350 Carroll Shelby
1963 Volkswagen Beetle used in the filming of Herbie

Three cars stand out from the vault collection:

A Mercedes-Benz from the late 1800s/early 1900s considered to be the first example of an automobile.

1939 Bugatti 57C Van Vooren. It was a wedding gift for the Shah of Iran's wife in 1939. It remained in Iran until 1979 when it was sold for an unbelievable USD$ 275! The car was in terrible condition and had to be completely restored. When it went to auction it sold for more than USD$ 1.750.000.

FRD was in need of safe transportation during World War II. Would the armor plated car once used by Al Capone suffice? Apparently it did.

Here are some notable cars from the general collection:

Bugatti EB 110

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Warner Brothers VIP Studio Tour 2013

On our last day in LA, my wife and I took a tour of the Warner Brothers studio. A friend of hers from the TCM Film Festival connected with someone on Twitter who works at the studio. He was kind enough to get us on the VIP tour and pay for two of the tickets. The VIP allows you to get off the tram and walk around a bit. You are shown areas the normal tours do not see. I was looking forward to this!

Warner Brothers has a very rich history in the movies. Aside from being in the business for 90 years they have also produced some of Hollywood's most famous movies.

This was my second time at the Warner Brothers studio. Back in 1995/6 my uncle worked at the studio on their computer systems. I was in LA and he suggested I meet him for lunch at the studio and then I could wander around. Hell yeah! Sounds like a plan to me.

Hallways used in "Ocean's Thirteen"

A street used in gangster movies from the 1940s

Same street facing the opposite direction.

This where the upside down kiss was filmed from "Spider-Man".

The building from, "The House of Wax", with Vincent Price.

The alleyway from "Friends" Monica and Rachel use in the episode with Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Storefronts, above and below, used in "Two Broke Girls"

The famous Warner Brothers water tower.

This is a parking lot used to simulate the top of the hospital in "E.R."

Exterior of the EL from "E.R"

Courthouse from "The Dukes of Hazzard"

The church from "Ocean's 11" (1960)

The house James Dean's character lives in from "East of Eden"

The exterior of The Belle Auroure from "Casablanca"

The kite scene from "Big Bang Theory"
The marquee from the end of "Yankee Doodle Dandy"

The theater used in the episode of "Big Bang Theory" where they steal "Raiders of the Lost Ark"

A park used in "Big Bang Theory"

The interior of Belle Auroure from "Casablanca"

Actual props from "Casablanca" except for the piano which is a replica. 

The space capsule from "Big Bang Theory" when Howard goes to space.

The Lincoln Continental from "The Matrix"and the Ducati 996 ridden by Trinity from "The Matrix Reloaded"

The Batmobile from the first series of "Batman" movies.

A Tumbler from "Batman Returns"

A Dodge Charger from the "Dukes of Hazzard" movie.

An actual Batman costume!

A car from one of the "Harry Potter" movies.

Yes, this is the actual Friends set! The same couch from the TV series. After the series ended, Warner Brothers kept the entire set for posterity. Even though I was not a dedicated fan of the show, this was a cool thing to see.

The Chinese curio shop where Gizmo the Mogwai was purchased in "Gremlins"

The office building from "Argo"

The street corner from "National Lampoon's Vacation" where the hubcaps are stolen.

Courthouse exterior from "Night Court"

This is the workshop of the studio. It has been featured in "Black Legion" with Humphrey Bogart and "White Heat" with James Cagney.

 This is Soundstage 16 and at 98 feet tall, it is one of the biggest in the world and the biggest in North America. Any movie that requires a massive set is filmed here. Some movies shot here are  Ghostbusters, Jurassic Park, the Batman trilogy, The Goonies, and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

It too dark inside Soundstage 16 to see anything. Damn!

The tour ended with a visit to The Warner Brothers Museum. It is designed to archive and display the history of the studio. You are not allowed to take your phone or camera inside. Housed here are some of the most memorable props ever shown on the big and small screen. 

There are costumes from Harry Potter, Batman, Big Bang Theory, Watchmen, 300, The Town, and Heartbreak Ridge.

Some of the props from the Hangover are the crowbar, the fake baby, the tooth, wedding swag, and the baby carrier.

Some Best Picture Oscars are included. Worthy to note, a shorter base was used for the first year only on the construction of the statue.

There was one piece that caught my attention. It was the actual piano used in "Casablanca". The same one Rick uses to hide the Letters of Transit and Dooley Wilson plays on. It was encased in clear to protect it. It is not owned by the studio but merely on loan from it's owner. It went to auction in late 2014 and was sold for almost USD 3.000.000!