Earlier this year, the Petersen Automotive Museum reconfigured some of their massive facility in order to welcome a whole new exhibit—one that should certainly appeal to those of you who follow the Super Street Network.
Titled "The Roots of Monozukuri: Creative Spirit in Japanese Automaking" and "Fine Tuning: Japanese-American Customs," the Petersen assembled an array of import vehicles from all makes and placed them on display throughout the halls of the illustrious museum. We gave you a preview just as the attraction was opening its doors and since then, some very special vehicles have been added to the collection, all of which you can see for yourself, in person, when you visit the Petersen.
Once inside you'll find road and purpose-built race vehicles, concepts, OEM and heavily modified cars on display. Some you've seen photos of before and others, like a few listed below, might be completely new to you. Here's a quick rundown of some of the latest cars added to a collection that features an insane amount of rich automotive history.
1978 DOME ZERO
We know, you've seen and even been behind the wheel of the sleek, wedge-shaped Dome Zero. That is, if you're skilled enough to bring home the gold in the International A license challenge of Gran Turismo. The truth is, that game really put the Zero on the map for the younger car-crazed generation, and without that mention many wouldn't know about the absolute struggle faced by a young company focused on building race cars for the road. Originally started as a race shop, in '75 Minoru Hayashi founded Dome in hopes of producing a true sports car for the road that possessed cutting edge design and a no-frills approach. The result was a built-from-scratch, mid-engine design that screams late '70s with its knife-like profile and its wide, low-slung front end. Beneath the surface, in order to get to the finish line in time, the first example of a Zero model featured a steering column from Honda's newly released Accord people-mover along with brake components from the Leone; Subaru's top compact offering at the time.
Builders worked around the clock to complete the Zero in time for the 1978 Geneva Auto Show and the eccentric and modern styling, typically reserved only for Italian automakers, blew visitors away. Among the visitors were toy makers beating down Hayashi's door for licensing rights to produce miniature versions of the forward-thinking design. Its mid-engine configuration, powered by Nissan's L28 inline-six produced around 145hp to carry just one ton of Zero. In '79 and '80, a special Le Mans version, which stretched over 16-feet long, was armed with 400-plus horsepower.
Ultimately the not-so-strict Japanese road certification couldn't be obtained and Dome looked toward other countries to unleash the race car for the streets. They even looked toward the U.S. to build the vehicle and import them back to Japan, but with a price in mind of $60K, it was far too risky. In the end, the hurdles were too high and the Dome Zero, other than its cameo in modern-day video game racing, never came to be.
1997 ACURA NSX-T
Honda's NSX introduced the general automotive world to its now famous electronically controlled, variable valve timing system (VTEC). Perhaps more importantly, the NSX drove home the fact that the automaker had the ability to build a well-balanced sports car that offered reliability behind an inspirational driving experience at a fraction of the cost of Italian and European offerings of the same era.
Decades later, the NSX still serves as Hondas flagship and remains one of the most desired in the enthusiast market with the mid-engine, rear-wheel drive 2-seater showing up at the top of most people's dream garage lists.
The Petersen Museum got their hands on this picture-perfect '97 NSX-T model. A significant model as it features the classic pop-up headlights while behind the cabin, the previous model's 3.0L was stepped up to a 3.2. That additional grunt translates to almost 70 additional lb.-ft. of torque. An extra forward gear was added and the 3.2L C-series screams to 8,000rpm, and this model even features a semi-topless feel with its removable T-tops.
1997 TOYOTA SUPRA
When you talk hero cars there's little to no chance of escaping the conversation without going into great detail about the highlights of Toyota's MkIV Supra. It's the stuff of legends, and while some stories surrounding its incredibly stout engine are mildly exaggerated, there's absolutely no denying its ability, potential, and after over 25 years, staying power.
This modified version was meticulously built by Twins Turbo, the twin brother dynamic duo that've churned out more high-performance, breathtaking builds than you can possibly imagine, and no shortcuts were taken with this build.
We featured this car back in 2015, and today it easily stands as one of the best Supra builds we've ever encountered. Missed the article with the specs and details? No worries, we've got it for you right here
NISSAN R390 GT1 ROAD CAR
Just 20 years ago, Nissan toyed with the idea of launching a street-legal race car and putting a rather sizeable price tag on it. Now, if you complained about the FK8 Civic Type R's dealership mark up woes this year, then this is going to sting a little bit because the R390 GT1 was suggested to retail for a cool million dollars.
What would an M-bar get you in 1998? Well, Nissan tossed in a twin-turbo 3.5L V8 and a 6-speed sequential trans set up to carry a carbon fiber body that all added up to just over 2,400lbs. Power checked in at 550hp and 470 lbs.-ft. of torque, which was said to push the R390 to a top speed of over 200mph and a 0 to 60 time in the 3.9-second range.
If the headlights seem vaguely familiar, it's because they were plucked from the 300ZX. And though the wheels and tires might look a little small from certain angles, the BBS 19-inch rear and 18-inch fronts were actually quite large for that era, but dwarfed by the deck-like fenders. Alas, the million-dollar Nissan never came to be, and with that price tag, it's probably a good thing. Still, seeing the low-slung, sexy lines in person is worth the price of admission, especially when you consider that this is the only R390 GT1 in existence.
INFINITI PROTOTYPE 9 AND 10
In 2017, Infiniti put together a concept inspired by the past but powered by thoughts of the future. The Infiniti Prototype 9, from a distance, harkens back to the 1940s open-air racecar complete with wire wheels and a torpedo-like shape. Get a bit closer and the handmade body that features countless hours of bending and molding at Nissan's Oppama Plant in Japan, is apparent with labor hours falling upon the shoulders of master production engineers and backed by fellow employees who volunteered their free time in order to help complete the vision.
Under the sleek exterior you won't find the re-engineered combustion engine that you might expect, but instead an electric motor and battery. Obviously this isn't a vehicle you'd expect to find at your local dealership, but rather an exercise in company teamwork and chasing a dream, with the end result able to be called a work of art—perfect for display at the Petersen.
Alongside the Prototype 9 is 2018's Infiniti Prototype 10. Again relying on modern electric power, the body is an ode to speedsters of yesteryear, including a single seat and fully cloaked passenger side. The ultra-angular exterior that starts with thin headlights, leads seamlessly into almost endless bodylines that feature subtle fenders cradling a huge wheel and tire package. It's a design that will probably still look "futuristic" in 30 years. These two vehicles are on display only for a limited time so don't miss out.
That's just a sample of what's happening at the Petersen Automotive Museum. Every dedicated car enthusiast should make it a point to pay a visit and see these incredible vehicles in person.