There is, in north Phoenix, a car museum that most people have probably never heard of. Off I-17, just north of Bell Road, is the Martin Auto Museum, and for as long as I could remember, it was a private collection. “NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC”, the sign said, and I recall sighing every Sunday as I drove past on the way to church, wishing I could get a peek at what wonders must exist behind those walls.
Twenty years later... I got a peek.
Last weekend, my wife and I flew into Phoenix to see my family for the first time in over a year. My sister asked if I wanted to go pick up my nephews from school with her.
Of course I did.
They were both thrilled to see me, but what was the first thing the youngest (9 years old) asked me?
“Uncle Jimmy, will you take me to a car museum tomorrow?”
Now, there’s a reason for this. Back in the spring of 2014, my whole family came out to North Carolina for my wedding. My wife and I got married at Childress Vineyards, in part a concession to my zeal for NASCAR, but mostly a testament to her good taste. A few days before the wedding, I took the older of my two nephews, who was SUPER into Disney-Pixar’s Cars, to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, mostly so he could get a picture with Marshall Teague’s Fabulous Hudson Hornet.
The younger of my nephews has had this on his mind for the last nearly five years, and he is a car NUT (he was able to identify my rental Dodge Charger as such from a block away), so he REALLY wanted me to take him to a car museum. Unfortunately, my sister didn’t think there were any decent car museums in Phoenix. I was pretty sure that, at the very least, I could take him out to the Penske Collection in Scottsdale, where they have - among a good number of other rare and collectible - one of Joey Logano’s MENCS cars from this past season (the one he was driving when he won the Cup is, of course, at Penske headquarters).
Nonetheless, I did a Google search, and what should come up but the Martin Auto Museum, now open to the public. And there was my answer - I could take my nephew to get his fill of cars, and I could finally peek behind the curtain that was closed to me throughout my own teen years.
So, we went up there, paid $10 each for my wife and me and nothing for my nephew, and spent a solid couple hours looking at some amazing pieces of automotive history. My wife didn’t get as much out of it as my nephew and I did, but she certainly did get a kick out of watching the two of us bro out over, for example, the 427 Chevy engine under the hood of a 1966 Corvette Stingray.
Anyway, below are a few dozen photos I snapped at the museum. If you are in Phoenix, have $10 and a couple hours to spare, and would like to see a great collection of cars, I would encourage you to go.
Martin Auto Museum
17641 N. Black Canyon Hwy.
Phoenix, AZ 85023
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Tuesday - Saturday
$10 for adults, kids under 12 free