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LA's Most Adventurous Exhibit At The Petersen

ADV: Overland is long-distance, around-the-world, and off of it too

Ural Garrett
August 20 2021
Nothing new about queuing-up in LA – but on a Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. to see an exhibit about the history of motorcycles? That’s what we were doing along with many other motorcycle enthusiasts as we waited for tickets to ADV: Overland, the recently opened exhibit featuring multi-terrain motorcycles of historic significance at the Petersen Automotive Museum. 

Considering the assortment of rare, vintage vehicles, including such highlights as R.E. Fulton’s 1932 Douglas Mastiff, a bike he rode around the world in his literary masterpiece 
One Man Caravan, and Max Reish’s 1933 Puch 250SL, the first motor vehicle rode over land to India, we had no problem getting up a little earlier than usual.

The 1933 Puch 250SL that Max Reisch rode to India: Reisch family archive 

“This exciting, first-ever collection of round-the-world overland racing and off-world overland vehicles is the perfect pandemic escape hatch,” said exhibit curator Paul d’Orleans, co-founder of the New York-based Motorcycle Arts Foundation, exhibit co-sponsor. “Most of these extraordinary machines have never been publicly displayed and absolutely radiate the spirit of adventure—some even retain their original accessories, 90 years later.” 

The vibe around us certainly captured that spirit of adventure, along with a pure love for the nostalgic. The Petersen’s third-floor Richard Varner Family Gallery (which is still running) has been transformed into an ADV time-capsule from the early 1900s, including George Wyman’s 1903 California, the first two-wheeled motorized vehicle to travel coast-to-coast from San Francisco to New York. For those keeping score, just 20 days later, Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson accomplished the same feat in the 1903 Winton Vermont car.  

Sponsored by Harley-Davidson, the exhibit also showcases the LiveWire Motorcycle, Harley’s first foray into electric vehicles, and the 1974 BMW R60/6 driven by Elspeth Beard, the first British woman to ride around the world.  Additionally peppered throughout the exhibit is a handful of rally cars that ran the legendary Baja 1000 race, including the 1969 Ford Bronco “Big Oly” and the Honda N600 Baja, Honda’s first factory race car to hit stateside.

The 1969 Ford Bronco “Big Oly”: ADV Overland 


During the commemorative event opening the exhibitd’Orleans hosted a panel of motorcycle enthusiasts associated with various bikes featured in the exhibit, including Doug Wothke, Torsten Zorn, Julian Heppekausen, Dan Green and Travis Fulton. 

But this exhibit didn’t just focus on the motorbikes of years past or even on anything confined to the terrestrial. It also looked ahead to the future and to the stars. Torsten Zorn, lead spacecraft engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, helped provide two model Mars Rovers for the exhibit (the originals still being on the Red Planet, of course). 

“It’s an interesting synergy between ‘ADV Overland’ and what we’re trying to do on Mars,” explained Zorn. “Anybody who has ridden a car or bike off-road understands the importance of making decisions on routes when dealing with various terrain.”      

If you think about it, aren’t Mars Rovers just big, fancy motorcycles? Well, maybe that’s an oversimplification, but it's still tires and tread crunching gravel and, as long as you yearn to hear that sound, then you can be sure that ADV: Overland is worth checking out.  

“ADV: Overland” runs through March 2022.  Tickets can be purchased here.

Thumbnail credit: ADV Overland



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