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Whether your dream car’s a record-setting Ferrari or a humble Volkswagen Beetle, you can indulge your motorized fantasy at auto museums across the country. “They speak to the imagination,” says Ken Gross, a former museum director who now curates auto exhibits at fine art museums. “A lot of people remember the cars of their youth, both the cars they had, and the cars they wanted.” He shares some favorite displays with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY.

Petersen Automotive Museum
Los Angeles 
Gross admits a soft spot for this museum, where he once served as executive director. It reopened in 2015 after a complete renovation and now stands as the nation’s most technologically advanced gallery devoted to the automobile, with interactive exhibits, special effects and a partnership with the Cars movie series from Pixar, he says. “It’s a complete experience. For an auto museum, it’s as modern as it gets.”

Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum
Auburn, Ind.
This group of affiliated auto companies once hand-produced curvy Art Deco cars in a factory as stylish as its products. Today visitors can wander the facility, which is listed as a National Historic Landmark, and marvel at more than 100 vehicles, built here until the 1930s. “These were big powerful flashy classics that today are valued in the seven figures and more,” Gross says.

The Revs Institute
Naples, Fla.
You’ll find a supercharged Mercedes-Benz SSK from the late 1920s and other rare racers at this research-focused institute that boasts one of the nation’s top collections of sports cars. Displays not only feature gleamingly restored vehicles, but describe how they made racing history. “It’s a beautiful collection, and very nicely laid out,” Gross says.

The Henry Ford
Dearborn, Mich.
This comprehensive institution boasts everything from the Ford Mark IV, the first American-built and operated car to win Le Mans, to the limousine in which John F. Kennedy was assassinated. “They have really significant automobiles. It’s a fabulous collection, with a lot to see,” Gross says. Museum visitors can also schedule a tour of…