Nethercutt Collection

The Nethercutt Collection is a multi-storied museum and car collection complex located in Sylmar, California. It was founded by J.B. Nethercutt in 1971 and its centerpiece is the prestigious automobile collection of the Nethercutt-Richards family that contains over 250 cars. It is widely regarded as one of the greatest car museums in the world.§

The Nethercutt Collection
2022 Nethercutt Collection Logo.png
Grand Salon of the Collection
Nethercutt Collection is located in the Los Angeles metropolitan area
Nethercutt Collection
Location within the Los Angeles metropolitan area
Established1971; 52 years ago (1971)
LocationSylmar, California, U.S.
Coordinates34°18′24″N 118°27′49″W / 34.30667°N 118.46361°W / 34.30667; -118.46361
TypeAutomotive museum
Music museum
Collection size250+ automobiles
FounderJ.B. Nethercutt
CuratorKyle Irwin
OwnerNethercutt-Richards family

As J.B. Nethercutt's former private estate, the San Sylmar penthouse tower was one of the largest houses in the United States at 60,000 square feet (5,600 m2).[1]

The museum also houses collections of mechanical musical instruments, including orchestrions, player pianos, music boxes, antique furniture, and an automotive research library.[2] Another unique piece in the collection is the Canadian Pacific Railway's famous Royal Hudson steam locomotive No. 2839 built in 1937. The semi-streamlined Royal Hudson steam locomotive is one of four that survive today.[3][4]

The Collection is considered as one of the greatest teams of all time in Concours d'Elegance competitions and car shows with its world-class restoration shop, holding the most Concours titles of any competitor worldwide including a record six Best of Show victories at Pebble Beach.[5]


In 1956 J.B. Nethercutt (1913–2004), the co-founder of Merle Norman Cosmetics, purchased two cars: a 1936 Duesenberg Convertible Roadster and a 1930 DuPont Town Car, needing refurbishing. The DuPont restoration, which Nethercutt thought would take a few weeks, instead took 18 months and over $65,000. By 1958, his rebuilt project claimed its first prize — the coveted “Best of Show” award at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in California. Over the next decade he would purchase several other antique automobiles and restore them.[6]

San SylmarEdit

Post-earthquake San Sylmar tower viewed from the museum display in 2015

In the late 1960s Nethercutt ascended to CEO and Chairman of Merle Norman Cosmetics and purchased several acres of land in Sylmar, Los Angeles to develop a warehouse for his growing car collection and connect it to a new Merle Norman manufacturing plant. Instead of a warehouse, he decided to develop a personal six floor, ten-story-tall Art Deco penthouse palace that will serve duel-purpose as a free of charge museum when he was not living there, and in 1971 the San Sylmar tower estate was constructed.[7]

The first two stories of the tower; the Lower and Grand Salon, featured most of J.B.'s vehicle collections, with a closed off 30,000 square-foot car workshop being connected to the Lower Salon. The Grand Salon features the most expensive vehicles and was architecturally inspired by a mix of 1920s-30s New York City luxury car showrooms, grand ballrooms and opulent theatres.[8] The third story features an awards room, a vast collection of hood ornaments, and a cafeteria for the Collection's employees.[9] The fourth story consists of a 10,000 square foot music room with several large antique music boxes and player pianos, with a massive Wurlitzer theatre organ in the centerpiece of the room. The fourth floor also features a Louis XV-styled dining room and a large private kitchen that J.B. used for private dinners with a personal chef.[10] The fifth floor has a theatre which includes a 24 karat gold proscenium arch next to a massive storage room of pianos and musical records. There was a sixth floor private penthouse that included a full balcony which J.B. used as his secondary residence that was closed off from tours. The San Sylmar estate was one of the largest houses in the United States at 60,000 square feet (5,600 m2) and the entire Nethercutt Collection as a whole was 90,000 sq ft (8,400 m2) with the workshops.[7][1]

The 1994 Northridge earthquake structurally damaged the sixth floor penthouse which led to the floor's deconstruction.

Museum expansionEdit

Museum expansion building

In 2000 the Collection expanded and constructed a new 40,000 square foot display building directly across the street which was separately called the Nethercutt Museum. In comparison with the Collection which requires reserved guided tours, the newer Nethercutt Museum is openly self-guided.[11] The building also contains the Nethercutt Automotive Research Library and Archive, which is considered one of the greatest in the world.[12][13] Outside of the Museum contains a CPR steam locomotive Royal Hudson No. 2839 is presented together with a 1912 Pullman private car.[14]

After J.B. Nethercutt's death in 2004, the collection was handed down to Jack Nethercutt II and Helen Richards-Nethercutt.[15] The collection had a budget of around $2.5 million a year.[16] In 2011 OPI Products and Merle Norman Cosmetics styled its "Hussy" perfume and lipstick line after the Collection's distinctively red "Hussy" 1934 Packard LeBaron Sport Phaeton, which is nicknamed after John Hussey.[17][18]

From 2020 to 2021 the collection was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[19] In 2022 the museum underwent major cosmetic renovations, including a new logo wordmark.[20]



The Nethercutt Collection has over 250 prestigious, antique, and exotic vehicles from American and European origin, notably including from Aston Martin, Austin-Healey, Bentley, Bugatti, Cadillac, Duesenberg, Ferrari, Lincoln, Maybach, Mercedes-Benz, Rolls-Royce and others.[21] Several vehicles in the Collection were formerly owned by politicians and celebrities such as Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah, Marjorie Merriweather Post, Tim Allen, Constance Bennett, and others.[13]

Notable individual carsEdit


The Collection acquired Canadian Pacific Railway's famous Royal Hudson steam locomotive No. 2839 which was built in 1937, it is displayed with a fully restored 1912 Pullman private sleeping car outside of the museum complex. No. 2839 steam locomotive is one of four that survive today.[3][4]

Car restorationEdit

The Nethercutt's 30,000 square-foot car restoration complex is credited with being one of the finest in the world, with nearly all of the vehicles on display being in pristine condition and fully drivable. Many of the vehicles undergo several re-restorations to stay competitive for Concours d'Elegances and car shows.[24]

Concours d'EleganceEdit

The Nethercutt Collection team competes in prestigious Concours d'Elegance competitions and car shows, widely being considered as one of the greatest teams of all time. The Collection has the most Best of Show titles of any competitor in the world, including a record six Best of Show titles at the pinnacle Pebble Beach and five at Amelia Island, both more than any other competitor.[5][25]

Best of Show titlesEdit

Below is a list of known notable Best of Show titles:


The Collection houses dozens of world-class antique music sets, including mechanical musical instruments, phonographs, massive orchestrions, dozens of player pianos and music boxes, and antique furniture.[2]

The Nethercutt Collection's Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ is the largest theatre organ in the Western U.S. and third largest in the world.[31][32][33]

Nethercutt Automotive Research LibraryEdit

The museum wing contains the Nethercutt Automotive Research Library which contains archived encyclopedic engineering materials on American and European vehicles since the end of the 19th century, such as owner's manuals and engineering documents.

It is considered one of the ten greatest automotive research libraries in the world.[13]


The Collection hosts silent film screenings and organ concerts in the fourth floor music room, using the Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ.[32][33]

From 2008 to 2010 the Collection's vehicles served as the lead car and transport of the Grand Marshals of the Rose Parade, including Emeril Lagasse, Cloris Leachman, and Chesley Sullenberger.[34]

Picnic tourEdit

Every year until his death in 2004, J.B. Nethercutt would take dozens of cars from the Collection with his family, friends, and invited guests on a parade-like cruise through the hills to a picnic at Frazier Park with catered foods from the professional chefs at the Collection. The event was one of the most exclusive items on any car lovers wish list as Autoweek magazine described it, "You can be as rich as Bill Gates or have a collection as big as that of the Sultan of Brunei, but you don't get a personal invitation from J.B. Nethercutt himself." The vehicle insurance of each picnic was stated to be in the multi-millions.[24]


The Collection has been named as one of the greatest car collections in the world by The New York Times[35], Los Angeles Times[16], Motor Trend,[36] CNET,[37] CBS,[38] and several other publications. It is listed as one of America's five greatest automobile museums by Autoweek.[39] It is one of the most valuable car collections in the world.

Automotive historian Jay Leno described the Collection as a "Smithsonian-style effort on the history of transportation in America" and "The hall of fame for cars.”[40]

In popular cultureEdit

The Royal Hudson steam locomotive No. 2839 appeared in the 1980 Coal Miner's Daughter film, which won an Academy Award.[41][42] The 1949 film The Great Gatsby featured the 1936 Duesenberg SJN now owned by the collection.[43]

In 1999 the museum was covered in an episode of the PBS program Visiting With Huell Howser.[44] In 2005 the collection was exclusively featured on the Motor Trend series My Classic Car.[45] From 2022 to 2023 several of the collection's vehicles were featured on the CNBC series Jay Leno's Garage; the Bugatti Dubos, 1933 Hispano-Suiza J12, 1930 Cadillac V-16, 1928 Isotta Fraschini Landaulet Type 8A, 1967 Ferrari 365 California Spyder, and the Twenty Grand Duesenberg.[46][47]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Fish, Tom (2021-09-19). "The 30 largest homes in America". Newsweek. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  2. ^ a b The Nethercutt Collection website. Retrieved April 2, 2015.
  3. ^ a b "THE MUSEUM LOCOMOTIVE & PRIVATE CAR". Retrieved 2020-09-19.
  4. ^ a b "Viewing Album: Canadian Pacific Royal Hudson 2839 in Pennsylvania - Railroad Picture Archives.NET".
  5. ^ a b c "Classic Car Week: Return of a champion". Monterey Herald. 2015-08-13. Retrieved 2021-02-11.
  6. ^ Milian, Gabriela (2019-09-30). "Vintage car museum in Sylmar takes you back in time - for free!". ABC7 Los Angeles. Retrieved 2020-04-18.
  7. ^ a b "As a Merchant of Beauty, Merle Norman's J.B. Nethercutt Has Grown Handsomely Rich". Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  8. ^ "Nethercutt Collection - YouTube". Retrieved 2021-02-05.
  9. ^ "Automobile Collectibles and Antiques". Retrieved 2020-04-18.
  10. ^ "Nethercutt Collection « Los Angeles Theatre Organ Society". Retrieved 2020-04-18.
  11. ^ "Visitor Information". Retrieved 2020-04-18.
  12. ^ "The Nethercutt Automotive Research Library and Archive". Retrieved 2021-01-13.
  13. ^ a b c "A Visual Tour of the Incredible Nethercutt Museum Collection". 19 March 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ "The Nethercutt Collection". Retrieved 2020-04-18.
  15. ^ "Founders of the Nethercutt Collection" Nethercutt Collection, Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  16. ^ a b "A Beauty of a Car Collection". Los Angeles Times. 2001-03-07. Retrieved 2020-12-17.
  17. ^ "Venerable cosmetics company Merle Norman gets a makeover". LA Times Blogs - All The Rage. 2011-05-03. Retrieved 2020-05-20.
  18. ^ "Insights Into The Hussy Story - Crescenta Valley Weekly". Retrieved 2020-05-20.
  19. ^ "The Nethercutt Collection". Retrieved 2020-08-31.
  20. ^ "Nethercutt Museum Under Renovations - Closed Until October 12th | San Fernando Valley News Portal". 2022-09-09. Retrieved 2022-10-16.
  21. ^ "Automobile History". Retrieved 2020-09-08.
  22. ^ "COACHBUILD.COM - Rollston Duesenberg SJ Arlington Torpedo Sedan 'Twenty Grand' 1933". Retrieved 2021-01-13.
  23. ^ "The Bugatti Type 51 Dubos Coupé - The Racecar and the Road Car". Heacock Classic. 2019-02-19. Retrieved 2022-04-15.
  24. ^ a b Vaughn, Mark (2002-01-27). "Reborn To Run: Once a year the Nethercutt Museum goes out for a ride". Autoweek. Retrieved 2020-09-08.
  25. ^ a b "Previous Winners - Amelia Concours d'Elegance". Retrieved 2020-05-14.
  26. ^ "2009 Winners". PV Concours d'Elegance. Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  27. ^ "Check Out Las Vegas Concours D'Elegance 2019". Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  28. ^ Payne, Patti. "More than 100 vintage vehicles converged on Kirkland in a "rolling art" show". Retrieved 2022-08-23.
  29. ^ "Dana Point Concours d'Elegance 2011 - Report, Results and Photos". Sports Car Digest - The Sports, Racing and Vintage Car Journal. 2011-07-12. Retrieved 2022-03-06.
  30. ^ "2022 Winners". La Jolla Concours d'Elegance. Retrieved 2022-08-16.
  31. ^ "LA Fridays with Bob and Tom: Nethercutt Museum and Collection | Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior". Retrieved 2021-03-11.
  32. ^ a b "Silent Cinema Society". Silent Film Society. 2020-04-18. Retrieved 2020-04-18.
  33. ^ a b "ATOS | SPOOKY SILENT MOVIES". Retrieved 2020-04-18.
  34. ^ "Special Events". Retrieved 2020-08-20.
  35. ^ "J. B. Nethercutt, 91, Co-Founder of Merle Norman Cosmetics, Dies". The New York Times. The Associated Press. 2004-12-11. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-07-15.
  36. ^ "A Visual Tour of the Nethercutt Automobile Collection | Automobile Magazine". MotorTrend. 2019-03-19. Retrieved 2021-10-05.
  37. ^ Morrison, Geoffrey. "A tour of the Nethercutt Museum and Collection: From classic cars to self-playing orchestras". CNET. Retrieved 2021-10-05.
  38. ^ "Nethercutt Collection and Museum: For Car Buffs, Worth the Trip to the Valley". 2011-10-14. Retrieved 2021-10-05.
  39. ^ Gross, Ken (2012-02-22). "America's greatest automobile museums". Autoweek. Retrieved 2021-02-03.
  40. ^ "J.B. Nethercutt, 91; Co-Founder of Merle Norman, Car Collector". Los Angeles Times. 2004-12-10. Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  41. ^ "Viewing Album: Canadian Pacific Royal Hudson 2839 in Pennsylvania - Railroad Picture Archives.NET".
  42. ^ "Portrait of the past: Royal Hudson No. 2839 train".
  43. ^ Morrison, Geoffrey. "Nethercutt Museum and Collection: Classic cars, trains, and more (pictures) - Page 27". Roadshow. Retrieved 2021-02-06.
  44. ^ "Visiting With Huell Howser - The Nethercutt Collection". PBS. October 10, 1999.
  45. ^ Motor Trend, My Classic Car. "Season 09 (2005) Episode 10 | My Classic Car with Dennis Gage". Retrieved 2022-04-13.
  46. ^ "Nethercutt's 1931 Bugatti Type 51 Dubos Coupe | Jay Leno's Garage". CARTUNE TV. 2022-04-11. Retrieved 2022-04-11.
  47. ^ "Gorgeous Duesenberg "20 Grand" Looks Elegant In Jay Leno's Garage". MSN. Retrieved 2023-03-14.

External linksEdit