Combine the open road and exquisite classic cars
with a trip to the Motte Historical Museum in scenic Menifee, CA.
The Motte Historical Car Museum is off the beaten path. But when you go you’ll surely agree it’s well worth the trip.
Menifee in Southwestern Riverside County plays host to the cozy museum with a collection of very cool classic cars. And they’re displayed in a building that, while fully restored as well, helps turn back the hands of time just like the vehicles it houses.
Who else but our own Professor, Clinton Quan, made the recent trip and shares the complete report in this iDriveSoCal Podcast. Click play below and take a look at some of the classic beauties he spotted during his trip.
Recorded in Los Angeles, CA
The Motte Historical Car Museum – Menifee’s Hidden Automotive Gem
Clinton “The Professor” Quan: They’re like, “Wow, I didn’t realize there are so many car shows and I didn’t realize that there were so many car museums.”
Tom: This is the Motte Historical Museum, out in Menifee, California
Clinton Quan: There’s definitely cars from the 1920s,
Tom: Made me think Great Gatsby.
Tom: Like, that time period, right?
Tom: Welcome to iDriveSoCal, the podcast. All about mobility, from the automotive capital of the United States, Southern California. Tom Smith here with the good Professor, Mr. Clinton Quan. Say hello, Clinton.
“Made me think Great Gatsby.”
Professor: Hi, Tom.
Tom: Hello. This podcast, we’re talking about another automotive museum, one that the good Professor kind of pulled out of his bag of tricks…
I don’t know. We’ve almost come to a year of doing the iDriveSoCal podcast and you’re still surprising me with some of these little pocket events in museums and whatnot that you find.
So, keep that up. Let’s see how long you can keep that up until I’m like, “Oh, this one again?”
Professor: I’ll try. But I think a lot of people are really surprised at how many car museums and automotive events in Southern California.
Tom: There’s so much.
Tom: There’s so much.
Professor: Because a lot of my friends, they’re like, “Wow, I didn’t realize there are so many car shows and I didn’t realize that there were so many car museums.”
Tom: Yeah, all you got to do it look and you can keep yourself busy year-round.
Tom: And hey, partially that’s what iDriveSoCal’s gonna help. We’re gonna be a… Is the right word “repository?”
Professor: You could say that.
Southwestern Riverside County
Tom: I’m making myself laugh because I’m thinking about other… And whatever. So as we have been, your go-to place. iDriveSoCal.com.
Tom: Yeah, your resource. Thank you. But not only automotive but also the future of mobility.
And a lot of the future of mobility is… Well, we’ll see what it’s gonna be, but it’s an exciting time, right?
Tom: But for always and all time, there’s going to be a large segment of the population that happens to be in love with cars.
Cars that are coming out of manufacturers right now, rolling off the assembly lines right now, and for some time to come.
For a long time to come, and certainly, the history.
Tom: And this is the Motte Historical Museum, out in Menifee, California, which I guess that’s considered Inland Empire?
Professor: I believe that is considered the Inland Empire. It’s a little east of the city of Perris, which is spelled P-E-R-R-I-S.
Not to be confused with what everyone assumes.
“It’s a little east of the city of Perris… it’s off the 215.”
Tom: Of course, I’ve buzzed by there and I know that I’ve buzzed by Perris, as well as Menifee, and I don’t know what else comes to mind for Menifee, but I know I’ve been through both.
Professor: Yeah, it’s off the 215.
Tom: Okay. So, the Motte Historical Museum has… First off, the museum itself is really old and cool looking.
Professor: Yeah, it looks like a barn.
Tom: From the pictures that you shared, yeah. And so the collection is really neat, too. Do they define their collection? It seems to be ’20s to ’30s, maybe ’40s?
Professor: I think that’s a good description.
Motte Historical Museum Is A Private Car Collection
Tom: But there’s a Thunderbird that had to be from the ’50s that I saw in the pictures.
Professor: Yeah. It’s probably ’50s, ’60s.
Tom: Anyway, it’s a private collection. Apparently, the Motte brothers-
Professor: Yeah, Motte Classic Cars.
Tom: You know what? I’m stealing your thunder. You tell me about it.
Professor: Well, the Motte brothers, they were in the agriculture business.
They were farmers. And-
Tom: Oranges or something, out here? Or do you know what?
Professor: That I don’t know, but probably oranges. I know that in Riverside, that’s-
Tom: Lot of orange groves out there?
Professor: There’s a lot of orange groves out there.
Professor: Yeah, in fact, I believe it’s a state park that’s dedicated to the citrus fruit.
Tom: You grew up here. I did not, so I get a pass on that lack of knowledge.
“…there are about 24 vehicles currently on display in the museum.”
Professor: Yes, you do. So going back to the museum, I think they started their collection back in the 1950s.
They purchased an old Chevrolet and that was the start of the collection and there are about 24 vehicles currently on display in the museum.
They do have more vehicles that they store elsewhere, and they’ll rotate the cars from time to time.
Professor: It is used as a special events venue, so they do have a number of other special events, including weddings.
It’s a popular wedding venue. If you check out the website, you’ll see some wedding photos, as well. So, if they take the vehicles out and they leave some of them inside, it’s a great place to host a cocktail reception, as well.
Great Gatsby Era @ The Motte Historical Car Museum
Tom: All right. And the cars that they have, again, going back to… Would you say the oldest is… I mean, those hot rods had to be like 1920s?
Professor: Oh, I think there were some cars. There’s definitely cars from the 1920s, I believe.
Tom: Well, the first one that you showed me was a Packard, and that was a beautiful…
Professor: Oh, yeah, a Packard. I believe that was a V12. I would say that car was-
Tom: I think I saw the placard that-
Professor: Right in the center of the museum.
Tom: And rightfully so. I mean, that thing’s gorgeous.
Professor: Yeah, caught my attention right away.
Tom: I think I saw the placard that said it was a 1937.
Professor: Okay, that sounds right.
Tom: But yeah, so the stuff that you’re going to see at the Motte Historical Museum is-
Professor: Mostly American cars.
Tom: Yeah, it immediately made me think Great Gatsby.
Tom: Like, that time period, right?
Professor: Yeah, it could include that time period, as well.
Tom: And a little bit before, a little bit after.
Tom: On both sides. Excuse me.
“…they started their collection back in the 1950s.”
Professor: They also had some hot rods, as well.
Tom: Oh yeah?
Professor: Yeah, remember the photo? Three hot rods.
Tom: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, gotcha. But that had to be ’20s.
Tom: It wasn’t American Graffiti hot-rod kind of thing.
Tom: Okay, so it being called the Motte Historical Museum, were there other pieces of history that were on display, or is it really all automotive?
Professor: It is pretty much an all-automotive museum.
Motte Family History
Professor: Now, there is a second floor to the museum. It doesn’t take up the entire space of the museum, and they do talk about the history of the Motte brothers and their influence in the valley, in that area.
Tom: And of course, you focused on absolutely none of that, because you were completely enthralled with the cars, right?
Professor: It’s interesting you use that word “enthralled,” because that came to mind, as well. I was thinking the exact same thing. Yes, that is 100% correct.
Tom: See, if I had gone there, I would look at the cars. I would take pictures. I would read up on them because I have to read all the placards at a museum.
“…they do talk about the history of the Motte brothers and their influence in the valley…”
But then I would definitely go read about the guys behind the museum, as well. But that’s how you and I are a little bit different.
Professor: I just went up to one of the staff members there and asked her about the Motte brothers and she just gave me a one-word answer: They were farmers. She just said, “Farmers.”
Like, “Okay, that summarizes.”
Tom: And then she went back to her game on her mobile device that she was playing.
Professor: Either that or reading or doing something.
Tom: Now, the venue, as you said, sure, it can be rented, whatever else.
But it’s one of these museums like the Marconi, where it’s open only certain times during the week, throughout the year, yeah?
Professor: They’re open Wednesday to Sunday, so they’re only closed Monday and Tuesday.
Tom: So you got the weekends all the time?
The Big Barn Classic Car Show @ The Motte Museum
Professor: Yeah, you got the weekends all the time and then you got Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.
Tom: Is there a fee to get in?
Professor: It is complimentary. There is no fee.
Tom: Okay. Not even like a donation box, if you wanted to kick in a couple of bucks or something?
Professor: I’m sure there’s a donation box.
Tom: Everybody’s got a donation box.
Professor: The hours are ten to four.
Tom: All right.
Professor: Ten to four, Wednesday to Sunday.
Professor: And their one big annual event is The Big Barn Classic Car Show, and that takes place the last weekend in April. I believe it’s a Saturday.
Professor: Yeah. That’s their one big annual event.
Tom: All right. What goes on then?
“…their one big annual event is The Big Barn Classic Car Show, and that takes place the last weekend in April.”
Professor: They have a number of classic cars.
Tom: They show cars.
Professor: They have a number of classic cars from, I’m sure, a lot of people who live in Inland Empire and they want to show off their passion for their classic cars.
Tom: All right, there you have it. Now, you’ve been to this museum before.
Professor: Yes, I’ve been there once before.
Tom: Only one time before?
Professor: Only one other time.
iDriveSoCal Test Drive Via The Motte Museum
Tom: And this was something that you did while you were on a test drive for one of our partners, right?
It was a vehicle review for the 2019 Honda Civic Coupe, which is a good-looking redesigned vehicle, right?
The Motte Museum’s Annual Open House
Tom: And we’ll save the rest of that for another, but what else about the Motte Historical Museum in Menifee, California, if you have anything else to share?
Professor: Oh, one other thing. They do have another event that will be coming up in February. It will be their open house.
“They do have another event that will be coming up in February. It will be their open house.”
Professor: Yeah, and that will be from … I believe that’s the ninth if I remember correctly, and it’s from ten to two.
Tom: Okay, is that on a Saturday or Sunday, most likely?
Professor: Oh yes. That would definitely be on a weekend.
Tom: Okay. And auto shows, auto museums, always good family-friendly fun, and this looks like a really neat one, too.
It looks like one that I’ll have to be stopping by because I love… Going to see the historical vehicles at a Petersen Automotive Museum is cool.
Tom: Because they have some amazing vehicles. But then the environment is state of the art.
Antique Cars & Barn @ The Motte Historical Car Museum
Tom: Whereas, this is something where you go and…
Is the building just made to look old, or is it actually old? Or do you know?
“…they’re open Wednesday to Sunday, so they’re only closed Monday and Tuesday.”
Professor: I believe it is actually old, yes.
Tom: Because it looks like it’s in an old barn that’s been updated, converted, whatever.
Tom: And it’s just a neat, neat space. So not to plug you guys, but hey, why not? It’s such a neat space. It would be a cool space for an event, such as a wedding or whatnot.
But honestly, didn’t mean to be a commercial for events at the Motte Historical Museum. But a cool spot, nonetheless.
So, Professor, are you good?
Tom: All right. Thank you, as always, good Professor, for your expert analysis, in this case of a Southern California automotive museum, again, the Motte Historical Museum in Menifee, California.
For iDriveSoCal, I am Tom Smith. As always, thank you so much for tuning in.