Reclaimed Rust: Metallica's James Hetfield shares his need for speed at Petersen Automotive Museum (Feb/2020)

A record-breaking opening night and the rock-star car collection of your dreams. 

Reclaimed Rust: The Cars of James Hetfield Opening Reception - Jan ?? - Petersen Museum - Los Angeles, CA

 

The opening reception set a record for the highest attended ribbon cutting of an exhibit in the museum's history. And it had some real star power, as Metallica frontman and car fanatic James Hetfield took the stage to share his passion for driving, custom building, and collecting cars. He discussed what it's like to drop off kids at school in a hot rod, and how he became a member of one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all-time.


 

During his childhood in Downey, California, Hetfield said, he developed an interest in cars and would sneak into the garage to get a glimpse of the car project his dad was working on. As a teenager, he couldn't wait to learn how to drive, and in high school Hetfield made it a point to be friends with guys who owned cars. His first car was a 1967 Plymouth Barracuda fastback he would borrow from his brother, which he claimed "didn't suck" on the road. He apparently had so much fun driving it, he wrecked it only after a few weeks. The Barracuda, though, was not a total loss thanks to a friend who helped him Bondo the car back together.  

Hetfield got his first real taste of car culture at the original McDonald's restaurant in Downey when he would skateboard through the parking lot to explore the bustling hot rod scene. Of his early car influences Hetfield said, "Hanging out with my older brother and driving by the McDonald's on the corner to check out cars. Anything that made noise was spectacular. Anything that bothered my parents." 

Now a resident of Colorado, Hetfield made the decision to donate the 10 cars in this exhibit to a car museum because he felt he had already enjoyed them to the fullest. In doing so, he hopes the custom collection will encourage kids to take an interest in the hobby, and inspire anyone who visits the exhibit. When asked what influenced his choice to bring the cars to the Petersen Museum, Hetfield said, "There is no other place like this. The Petersen is the pinnacle of car museums. It is the best place to have your vehicles showcased." 

Of the entire collection in Reclaimed Rust, the 1934 Packard Aquarius, in Hetfield's own words, "is absolutely gorgeous and must be experienced on a turntable." Custom-built from a sketch, the silver Aquarius is a blend of American aesthetics and French styling cues from 1930s Art Deco. Key design features include a removable top, DuVall-style windshield, side exhaust pipes, and bellowing teardrop fenders. Inspired by the French coachbuilding firm Figoni et Falaschi, the teardrop fenders, well-appointed interior, and overall silhouette of the "Aquarius" are a reflection of the 1939 Delahaye Type 165. And indeed, displaying the car on an active turntable was Hetfield's idea.  

The custom hot rods are now on view at the Petersen in the Bruce Meyer Family Gallery. When the Reclaimed Rust exhibit closes in October 2020, there are plans in motion for the collection to go on a world tour. Germany is rumored to be high on the list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos -

Roy Turner
Eleonor Segura 

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