San Diego Auto Museum Revival and Expansion


Revitalization Amidst the Pandemic

Opening in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic, the San Diego Automotive Museum had big dreams of establishing a world-class museum to celebrate the automobile’s rich history and future potential. The initial phase involved revitalizing the 87-year-old building with fresh paint, new flooring, updated exhibitions, a revamped gift shop, and additional classic cars. The tile murals at the museum’s entrance were beautifully restored and rededicated by Mayor Todd Gloria in the spring.

Grand Reopening and Community Engagement

As pandemic restrictions were lifted, the museum celebrated with a grand reopening and organized a museum-to-Sycuan car rally. The community quickly re-engaged with regular events such as Coffee and Cars and monthly displays by local car clubs. The museum’s presence also expanded through car shows at numerous events across San Diego County.

Leadership and Visionary Planning

Under the guidance of new CEO Lenny Leszczynski, the museum initiated plans for its first annual signature event and revisited ambitious plans for a two-story expansion. This vision kick-started a $22 million Capital Campaign to expand the museum to 48,000 square feet, enhance exhibition spaces, and add new facilities including an entryway, welcome desk, and classrooms. The campaign also includes a comprehensive update to the museum library, ensuring it houses the most extensive collection of automotive publications on the West Coast.

Opportunity for Renaming and Expansion of Impact

A significant highlight of the campaign is the unique opportunity to rename the museum itself, marking a new era in its history. The inaugural signature event, “All Revved Up!”, was a resounding success, greatly surpassing fundraising goals and supporting the museum’s efforts to impact under-resourced youth.

Educational Initiatives and Future Plans

Co-chairs Reena Horowitz and Jeanne Jones introduced the museum’s new Vocational Education Program during the event. This initiative is designed to aid underserved youth living below the poverty line by teaching them life skills and providing job training for careers in the automotive industry.

Looking Forward

In 2022, the museum expects to welcome over 150,000 visitors. Plans include starting renovations on the library and the design of the Vocational Education Program, moving closer to realizing the dream of becoming a world-class automotive museum. For those interested in supporting this transformative project, naming opportunities in the Capital Campaign are available through Sharon Smith.

For more information, visit:

author avatar
Esteban Villanueva