The Nethercutt is a wonderful example of what can happen when money, intelligence and a sense of civic duty converge. Established in 1971 by J.B. Nethercutt, one of the founders of Merle Norman Cosmetics, this complex has grown into one of the great collections of antique and classic automobiles in the world, more than 250 from 1898 onward. In addition, there is a world-class display of mechanical musical devices such as nickelodeons, music boxes and player pianos as well as a fully restored Canadian Pacific steam locomotive and private Pullman car.
The Museum, at 15151 Bledsoe Street in Sylmar, allows self-guided tours of historically noteworthy cars. The Collection, across the street at 15200 Bledsoe, gives guided tours of its most important old cars plus its famed Music Room collection. Admission to both facilities is free, but reservations are required for the Collection.
Some of the cars on display were once owned by movie stars, including a 1930 Rolls-Royce Brewster town car (below) that belonged to Constance Bennett, a big star of the 1920s and ‘30s. From time to time she rented it to studios, which used it in the 1937 classic The King and the Chorus Girl. Another car with a Hollywood pedigree on display is the 1931 Packard of Irene Dunne, a leading lady of the 1930s and ‘40s. Her many films include My Favorite Wife, Penny Serenade and Life with Father.
While currently closed due to the ongoing Covid 19 conditions, when it eventually reopens I recommend you visit this impressive museum and collection in person.
If you would like to read more of Michael Harris’s observations on Los Angeles and its environs, please order his new book, Westside Stories too, from his publisher at 310-476-6374 or from Amazon. His first book, Westside Stories, is available for purchase as well.