California Automobile Museum
2200 Front St. Sacramento, CA
Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
California Automobile Museum (formerly Towe Auto Museum) in Sacramento, California is a 71,000-square-foot facility initially named after car collector Edward Towe, but then renamed in 2009, removing Towe's name from the title. Initially filled with antique automobiles on loan from the Montana banker's private collection of 250+ Fords and antique autos, the nonprofit California Vehicle Foundation (CVF) operates the museum and its many community-oriented programs such as classes, seminars and organ concerts. Formed in 1986 through a Ford Motor Company grant of $100,000, CVF arranged for Edward Towe to exhibit most of his automobiles in the Sacramento car museum.
The museum features nuts & bolts displays and lots of eye candy. Shiny red classic cars, a 50s-style set and so much more are featured in eye-catching displays showcasing vehicles from 1880 to turn of the 21st century. In the collection you may find a 1929 Lincoln Sport Phaeton, 1930 REO Flying Cloud sports coupe, 1937 Gilmore Midget race car, 1940 LaSalle Convertible, 1947 Motorcycle Indian Chief, 1957 Ford Thunderbird, 1961 Volkswagen Type 1 Sedan, 1962 Lotus Elite, 1966 Ford Shelby GT-350, 1977 Lincoln Continental and many, many more items.
When the Museum opened its doors in May 1987 it was filled with Towe's Fords. A costly sell-off of vehicles to pay IRS bills required re-configuration of the museum and its collection. The museum now houses a variety of antique vehicles that owners either donate or lend for display. Themed sections of the museum revolving around automotive history include The Dream of Mobility, a collection of letter-named Fords preceding the Model T. The Dream of Luxury is represented by Rolls-Royce, Pierce-Arrow and Hispano Suiza. The Dream of Cool shows off chopped Mercury and Deuce coupes. The Dream of Speed displays Lotus and Cobra, motorcycles and dirt track winners. The Dream of Independencelooks at the early automobile as a provider of newly-found mobility through mechanical improvements (the electric self-starter) and mass-production techniques providing affordability. The Dream of Better Times chronicles the 1930s - 1940s. And finally, a section called The Hall of Technology offers hands-on displays with cutaway engines and transmissions. Mechanical design and construction in built-up chassis show engines, transmissions, differentials, distributor machines, and valve grinders are displayed along with a variety of hand tools.
Driven by passion, volunteers and docents offer in-depth, informative tours appealing to a general audience or customized tours for school children, adult groups and special event functions held at the museum.