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San Diego Automotive Museum

San Diego Automotive Museum

San Diego Automotive Museum
2080 Pan American Plaza
San Diego, CA 92101
Daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Last admission at 4:30 p.m.

San Diego Automotive Museum Information

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Top 5 Things to Know About the San Diego Automotive Museum

  1. Museum Mission: The Automotive Museum San Diego strives to educate the public about the social and technological history of vehicles through the ages. The museum provides automotive historical information through its educational programs and exhibitions.
  2. Exhibits: San Diego Automotive Museum features the Show Stoppers display, presenting a vast variety of groundbreaking automotive from the 1909 International Harvester and the 1911 Ford Model T Speedster to the 1932 Convertible Coupe Cadillac and the 1990 Ferrari Testarossa. The exhibits aren't dedicated solely to four-wheeled vehicles though, as the museum also features a Harley Davidson and separate Indian Motorcycle exhibit, which both showcase the significance of the two-wheeled automotive as well.
  3. Admission: Adults ages 16 to 64 years of age pay $8 admission, while senior citizens, students, youth, and those in the military receive additional discounts, and children under 6 years old receive free entry. San Diego residents and active military and their dependents also qualify for free admission on the fourth Tuesday of every month. 
  4. Education: The San Diego Automotive Museum offers curriculum for teachers to use to instruct their students on how the invention of the vehicle has helped shape our nation's identity. The curriculum will also include Social Studies about local and natural history, along with lessons in art and technology associated with the automobile industry. 
  5. Library: San Diego Automotive Museum has a library, which is considered to have one of the best collections of automotive research materials on the West Coast. The library holds vintage automobile periodicals, repair manuals, and even magazines dating back to 1901.

The San Diego Automotive Museum is located in Balboa Park and is open daily from 10am until 5pm, with last admission accepted at 4:30pm. Briggs Cunningham, a famous car collector and automobile racer, originally conceptualized the idea of the San Diego Automotive Museum to celebrate the importance of the automotive in our culture. The museum eventually opened in 1988, and has since been a popular spot for automobile enthusiasts as it showcases the automotive's transformation through history.

The Automotive Museum San Diego offers an educational experience featuring information and displays on natural and local history relating to automobiles. The Plank Road exhibit for example, displays information on the historic highway that was commissioned in 1915 to connect Southern California with Arizona. Other exhibits include presentations on Steve McQueen, the famous actor and automobile and motorcycle racer, and Louis Mattar's Fabulous Car, which in 1952 successfully completed an endurance record as Mattar drove round-trip nonstop from San Diego to New York and back to San Diego. The Fabulous Car included a chemical toilet, stove, washing machine, and yes, even the kitchen sink! Other exhibits at the Automotive Museum in San Diego feature vehicles ranging from 1909 to 1990, and Indian and Harley Davidson motorcycles. 

  • Do Display Your Vehicle: If you have a noteworthy car or historically significant automobile contact the museum for the opportunity to enter your car into a temporary or even permanent exhibit. 
  • Don't Skip the For Sale Items at the Library: In addition to offering automobile repair manuals and vehicle books, the library also sells vintage automobile magazines at reasonable prices for car fans or collections.

San Diego Automotive Museum Map