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Hagerty Employee

Our 13 favorite supercars from the Petersen Museum’s newest exhibit

The Petersen Automotive Museum is constantly updating its offerings, adding wonderfully curated exhibits every few months that cater to a wide range of enthusiasts. While it recently added an off-road-themed display that highlights desert racing and exploration, the museum also built a self-guided, socially-distant tour through the history of some well-known road-going beasts. Supercars: A Century of Spectacle and Speed tells the story of street-legal performance cars. We got to preview the exhibit just before it opened, so you may notice that some displays plaques aren’t yet installed in these photos. Rest assured that they’re in place now.


While each of the 20+ cars in the exhibit was selected by the Petersen for its performance, its style, and its impact on the automotive industry, we couldn’t help but pick 13 of our favorites to highlight. Here they are, in chronological order:


Intermediate Driver

I think the Ferrari Design language started with the 206 and 246 Dino, and the 308 was the natural progression...

Hagerty Employee

I see the similarities, but 206 and 246 both had exposed headlights.

How can you leave out the 540K???

Hard choice of those listed ... will go with the ... damn this is hard ... F1 ... inching out the Countach!!!

Intermediate Driver

While I wouldn't kick either of them out of bed for eating crackers, the Testarossa and Countach are two of my least favorite supercars.

New Driver


Pit Crew

The Shelby 427 Cobra wasn't super?

Pit Crew

McClaren M6GT all the way...Beautiful, Chevy power...


I had the poster... Lambo.  Baddest car of all time in my opinion.  

Advanced Driver

Frankly, none. These are all museum or tycoon garage fodder and are impractical immobile displays or ego mobiles. 


In terms of driving experience, I would take the Testarossa, but I love the looks of old classics and if I was selecting a long term one to drive about, that Duesenberg just wins my heart.

Intermediate Driver



Once again Hagerty's editors have their eyes blindfolded!


I would have chosen the 1964 Studebaker Avanti R-3...


170 MPH + right out of the factory in the fall of 1963!!!





I agree, not only fast but a cofortable street car to drive every day.
Hagerty Employee

Well GrumpyOne, there wasn't a Studebaker Avanti in the Petersen's supercar exhibit.
Intermediate Driver

OK, 2 Ferraris & 2 Lamborghinis, you might expect them to appear on a list of supercars. However, 2 McLarens, now that saying something. 

Pit Crew

I realize there are more valuable cars on the list, but that Black MB Gullwing with Red Interior and Rudge wheels would be a car I could grow old with...

Intermediate Driver

When I read this article headline...

I was hoping De tomaso Pantera made the list...

As one of the first mass produced cars with a mid engine design and at a "affordable" price from the dealership...


I'd take the Duesy.

Pit Crew

Being of Italian heritage I would only pick a Ferrari or Lamborghini as the supercar I would most want to drive.  

Intermediate Driver

HONDA first gen NSX.....A refined Suoer Car that can be driven daily.

Pit Crew

Where in god’s name is the BMW M1?


In some ways it's the most "pedestrian" of the cars on this list, but none loom larger for me than the GT40. It seems so hard to believe in retrospect that Ford struggled to find buyers for it back then. In most of these cars I'd feel like a poseur -- even as fantastic as they are and how much I love them. But I'd feel like a legend stepping into the GT40.

Advanced Driver

Ford GT 40.


I think you need to define what a supercar is. Some of these cars are absolutely wonderful, but there's only a few that I would call a supercar. My definition being a ridiculously over-powered, impractical and usually rather unattractive car that looks more at home on the race track than on the street. A definition which now that I think about it, could be simply shortened to " Mc Laren." 

Intermediate Driver

Just 'toss' me the keys to all of them.  Might take me a few years to decide - 

Pit Crew

Give me the SJ. It's the first car I recall lusting for as a child. The Caddy dealer across from my school had an apple green Murphy SJ roadster in the their showroom, and no-one seemed to mind the times I would stop in to drool over it after school. It was so much taller than me, and just big in an imposing way.  Those giant wheels, Chrome exhaust pipes, and mysterious things glinting through the mesh grills on the side of the hood. Nothing I had seen before that looked so fascinating.  Suffice to say it made a lasting impression. Shortly after it was sold, I saw the Muira on the cover of Car and Driver, when the Muira first came out. That was my second car lust, but the first is always the best.

Intermediate Driver

The Delahaye.


To me the Jag is the most beautiful. Who agrees?


I'd love to drive that GT40, even if it is a wimped down version.


the Duesy exudes class, opulence, and pure "gonads". the Delahaye curvy, almost sexy. but..... it has to be the Duesenberg. the first car i can say i lusted after, followed by a hearse. as for the "modern" stuff, meh, any dot com clown could buy one and not appreciate them for what they are. my choice, is of course, dictated by a love of simpler times and technology. you cannot have what we have today without the iterative process of design and materials evolution. oh well, champagne love on a Plymouth budget.

New Driver


Maserati Bora, or Merak.

Lotus Esprit, Lamborghini Urraco?

all before anything on this list. Ok, maybe the Miura.


Normally the GT40 would get my vote, but chrome just doesn't belong on a supercar. When i was a teenager the countach was the standard for the modern supercar and it still holds up


The Model J would be the one I'd really like to own, though assuming I'd be driving it I'd never see much over 70. Brakes just weren't up to the power back then! I can't see taking that thing up to it's over 100 mph top speed! Speed isn't everything, presentation is a lot... and the Duesy has that in spades!!


That said, the Gull Wing is probably the most practical of the lot. Roomy and comfortable interior (compared to the other 19th-21st century cars), plenty fast, and great curb appeal. 


Of the low slung, cramped (but fast!) cars I'd have to take the GT40. But if one of the Ferraris or the S7 were given to me, I'd be happy...

Pit Crew

I'd love to try the Jag. Probably Jaguar's peak in innovation and performance. too bad they tried to live off this for decades.

Pit Crew

The Porsche 959. I had a dealer brochure from local dealership as a kid and that was in it. Loved it ever since. #2 would be the gullwing. I've always loved them.

Pit Crew

From these examples, for me it’s a tie between the Duesenberg and the Saleen.

Yes, opposite ends of the scale, but this comes from a guy that owns both a ‘31 Model A and an ‘06 Corvette.


The 1933 Duesenberg SJ (the "S" denotes supercharged) produced 320 HP from it's 420 cubic inch DOHC inline 8-cylinder engine.