J.B. Nethercutt began his collection of automobiles in 1956, with the purchase of two antiques, a 1936 Duesenberg Convertible Roadster for $5,000 and a 1930 DuPont Town Car for $500. Nethercutt refurbished the antique cars and entered them in the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 1958. The DuPont won the coveted "Best in Show" award.
Through the rest of his life, Nethercutt continued to collect and refurbish antique automobiles, and in 1971 he and his wife opened their collection to the public, to view for free.
The collection is arranged in two large exhibition halls. The cars are classified by era: Antique (1890-1915), Vintage (1916-1924), Classic (1925-1948), and Post-War (1945-1970s).
As the collection grew, it came to encompass antique musical instruments, including phonographs and music boxes, as well as other relics of a bygone era, such as nickelodeons.
Additionally, the Nethercutt Automotive Research Library and Archives, one of the world’s top automotive research facilities, is housed in the museum. Just steps outside the Museum are a beautifully restored steam locomotive and rail car from 1912.
The museum regularly hosts musical events, such as organ concerts and silent films, free to the general public.