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James Hetfield donates 10 of his custom hot rods

11 October 2019



He might have rock god as a day job but Metallica’s lead vocalist, James Hetfield, is also known to be a serious petrolhead, and he has just donated 10 gorgeous hot rods from his collection to the Petersen Automotive Museum.

“It’s always an escape,” Hetfield said in a promotional video for the band’s 2012 Orion music festival, which featured a custom car show. “It’s a way for me to get really microscopic. When you’re down there welding, you’re in a zone … and it’s the same with music. This is a form of expression; this is a form of freedom. You can get away with driving something like his customized 1934 Packard Aquarius and still have your personality show through.”

A long-standing member of the Beatniks Car Club, Hetfield has worked with a number of California-based hot rod shops to build traditional and traditionally inspired customs. Many of those cars will now make their way to the Petersen’s Bruce Meyer Family Gallery.

This is not the first time Hetfield has collaborated with the museum. In 2014, he worked alongside Nick Mason and Brian Johnson to curate an exhibition on the world’s greatest sport coupes. For his recent donation, the Petersen board of trustees has named Hetfield a Founding Member.

The Hetfield collection will go on display in February 2020. For more information, visit