LeMay America’s Car Museum Review

LeMay America’s Car Museum Review

Although my experience with the LeMay America’s Car Museum had some negative points, overall it was remarkably positive.  I’ll get to the negative part later, but first all the good stuff.  America’s Car Museum has a whole lot to love.  I’ve been to over two dozen prominent car museums in America, and this one is easily in the top 3.


The Building

American’s Car Museum is conveniently located adjacent to the Tacoma Dome, near other museums and major highways.  The 165,000 square foot building is a multi-tiered parking deck for displaying cars, covered by an eye-catching silver shell that is evidently designed to mimic classic swooping automotive body lines.  The inside of the first level is as dramatic as the outside with an all wood ceiling with massive curving beams.  The tall walls of windows on both ends welcome light, while one particular end showcases a postcard view of downtown Tacoma, Washington.

The Cars

The roughly 350 vehicles on display in the museum represent merely a tenth of the epic car collection owned by the late Washington state garbage company magnate, Harold LeMay.  Upon his death his wife, Nancy, donated millions of dollars to buy acreage for the museum (also worth millions) as well as donated some of his best automobiles.  Although a great deal of cars there belonged to Harold, a number of vehicles on display are on loan from other collections.

The pictures below from my visit speak for themselves.  American’s Car Museum simply features an astounding array of cars from exotic supercars to muscle cars, vintage trucks to race cars and everything in-between.  Unless you’re a car guy that’s only into ricers, donks or monster trucks, your ought to find plenty of cars to love here in this eclectic collection.

The Extras

The museum boasts a number of interactive and educational attractions.  In one area you’ll find their CXC racing simulators which are linked together to deliver visitors a pretty realistic racing experience.  In another area the museum showcases a “Family Zone”.  This area enables kids of all ages to learn how cars work on an exposed chassis, to race pinewood derby cars with a competitor, create car-related art, take an interactive road trip challenge, and more.

The Events

American’s Car Museum does a brilliant job of developing and hosting interesting events in their facilities to attract car enthusiasts or to create new ones.  Some such events include car shows, cruise in’s, ride in a classic car events, drive-in movies, and more.

The Bad

To be picky, it would help the atmosphere and aesthetics if the lower levels of the car museum seem less obviously built like a parking garage.  If the ceilings were even a couple feet higher, the sensation would be reduced.

The staff is my main complaint though.  While I met a remarkably friendly staff photographer during my visit, unfortunately I came across two other staff members that left me with an unpleasant feeling towards this museum.  I’ll spare the details in part to shield the individuals and the museum.  I’m not one to complain, but this was noteworthy.

As time went on, though, I reflected on the museum, the cars, the exhibits and remembered how truly excellent it all was.  You’re probably unlikely to encounter the same issues I had with these staff, so I’d still confidently recommend that you stop by this museum should you ever find yourself in the Pacific Northwest.


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