LOS ANGELES (March 8, 2005) – The Petersen Automotive Museum will open its halls to a veritable who’s who of the automotive world during its annual Cars & Stars Gala on Thursday evening, May 12, 2005 at 6:00 p.m. The event will benefit the Petersen Automotive Museum Foundation and its youth and education programs with a sit down dinner and live entertainment. The 2005 Gala will offer Hollywood A-listers, motor sports legends and automotive enthusiasts a tour of the high-octane Musclecars: Power to the People exhibition and an exclusive first-look at more than 80 iconic vehicles created by the legendary Hollywood car customizer George Barris, best known for creating the Batmobile. The cars will be auctioned off at the Petersen on Saturday, May 14.

“This year’s Gala will be more exciting than ever before,” said Museum Director Dick Messer. “You can walk through our exhilarating new Musclecars exhibition and then glimpse a sneak peek of George Barris’ legendary cars. This mixture of Muscle and Hollywood cars provides an excellent backdrop for the 2005 Gala and will be a chance for guests to rub elbows with celebrities and automotive icons.”

The Petersen Automotive Museum, a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization, is a pioneer in automotive education and one of the nation’s largest and preeminent automotive museums. The Gala will be hosted by noted car collectors and Gala Co-chairs Bruce and Raylene Meyer who also hosted the Petersen’s 10-Year Anniversary Gala in June of 2004. Entertainers, automotive notables and VIPs in attendance included Tonight Show host Jay Leno, comedian Christopher Titus, actors Larry Hagman, Debbie Reynolds, Loni Anderson, Joanna Cassidy, Terry Moore, Chip Foose and Courtney Hansen from the hit TV show Overhaulin, astronaut Buzz Aldrin and announcer/entertainer Michael Buffer.

Musclecars: Power to the People – the exhibition is a powerful tribute to the great performance cars of the 1960s and 70s, an automotive era when gasoline was 40 cents per gallon, consumer confidence was high and Detroit muscle reigned supreme in the automotive world. Musclecars serve as a reminder of the carefree American automotive spirit and have seen a recent resurgence in popularity on the collector market. Among the 20 examples of big-block American Muscle cars are a hemi-loaded 1970 Plymouth Barracuda Convertible worth more than a $1 million and Charlie Sheen’s 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle Convertible.

George Barris Auction – On Saturday, May 14, a significant portion of the famous automotive collection of “King of the Kustomizers,” George Barris, will be offered for sale in a special auction by Bonhams & Butterfields at the Museum. Barris has astounded and amazed the public for more than 40 years with his automotive creations designed for film and television. Celebrities from Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra to the Beach Boys were among his celebrity clientele and his Hirohata Merc, a hand-crafted chopped ’51 Mercury Club Coupe, is considered by many to be the greatest custom car of all time.

Among the well-known vehicles up for bid include a Dukes of Hazard’s “General Lee” 1969 Dodge Charger, the original Beverly Hillbillies truck, Starsky & Hutch’s signature 1975 Ford Torino, Smokey and the Bandit’s 1978 Pontiac Trans Am driven by Burt Reynolds’, Back to the Future’s 1981 DeLorean and Knight Rider’s K.I.T.T, the talking 1984 Pontiac Trans Am.

“George Barris has created some of the most innovative and memorable cars in Hollywood history,” said Messer. “These cars have achieved their own celebrity status and become ingrained in American culture. The Cars & Stars Gala is the perfect venue for these celebrity cars.”

Reserved tables and individual tickets for the 2005 Cars & Stars Gala are available in advance from $250 to $500 per person. For additional information on the Gala and auctions, please call the Gala hotline at 323-964-6366.

The Petersen Automotive Museum, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, dedicated to education, is located at 6060 Wilshire Boulevard (at Fairfax) in Los Angeles. Admission prices are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors and students with ID, and $3 for children ages 5 to 12. Museum members and children under five are admitted free. Covered parking is available for $6 per car. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday and holiday Mondays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For general Museum information, call 323/930-CARS or visit the Museum’s Web site address at www.petersen.org