The first car museum in the West that was established in perpetuity, the California Automobile Museum is, according to its mission, “an every-person auto museum.” Founded in 1983, the museum has a permanent collection of more than 150 vehicles, temporary displays, and even its Exhibits on the Go, a program that sends its vehicles out into the community.
The California Automobile Museum’s permanent collection still includes the first car it ever received, a restored 1938 Buick sedan, which was a donation from the then president of the Golden One Credit Union, John Joyce. Additionally, this collection is made up of vehicles from 1880 through 2011. The oldest vehicle is an 1880 Columbia Bicycle - High Wheeler, while its newest is a 2011 Nissan Leaf. Some of the other noteworthy vehicles in its collection are a 1938 Rolls-Royce 25/30 Sports Sedan, a 1985 March Indy Car (Michel Andretti), and a 1978 Kawasaki 1000 CHP Motorcycle (“CHiPs” TV series). Along with its cars are other auto-related displays such as old-time gas stations.
Some of the museum’s past exhibitions have been the popular Auto Exotica: A Celebration of Modern Supercars and the Selling the Dream: Sacramento’s Early Car Dealers exhibit. In 2015, the Mustang vs. Camaro: What Side Are You On? exhibit will be opened. Many of the cars shown at the museum are owned by private collectors, which helps keep the displays rotating while giving the public a way to show off what they own.