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About Us

Celebrating the impact of the History, Art & Technology of the Automobile on California Culture


The mission of the California Automobile Museum is to preserve, exhibit and teach the story of the automobile and its influence on our lives.


Our Story

On May 1, 1987 the Towe Ford Museum opened to the public, displaying the personal collection of Edward Towe, which included one of almost every car Ford ever made, from the pre-Model T to the Pinto. The Museum flourished in its early days, attracting locals and visitors to this new attraction. In the mid-90s, however, in a tax dispute with Mr. Towe, the IRS slapped a lien on the cars. When efforts to find a buyer for the cars failed, the most extensive and complete collection of Fords was put on the auction block.


The 1997 auction broke up the Towe Ford Collection and that could have been a death sentence for the Museum. Not so. The newly renamed Towe Auto Museum, on the banks of the Sacramento River in the shadow of Old Town, began displaying vehicles of all makes and models, creating a much broader story of the automobile through history.


Since the Museum no longer housed the Towe Collection, in 2009, the Board of Directors officially changed the name of the Museum to the California Automobile Museum, reflecting the expanded mission it has grown into over the last 35 years, which is to educate and entertain while preserving and promoting the automobile and its influence on our lives.


Many of the cars are set off in eye-catching displays, as a place to educate people about cars; to tell the story of the development of the automobile and its effect on our lives. Approximately 50% of the vehicles are currently owned by the California Automobile Museum and the rest are displayed by private exhibitors. Some of the cars are on loan for a month and some for five years, so the display is a constantly changing exhibit of rolling stock.


Karen McClaflin

Executive Director



Marketing & Communications Manager

M.H. Stiles

M.H. Stiles

Vehicle Sales Manager


Erika Holiday

Office Manager


ShaVolla Rodriguez

Exhibits Manager


Guest Relations Representative

Ellie Montgomery


Daphne Ruffing

Event Rentals

Josh Robertson


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