Metallica frontman James Hetfield made his first major public appearance since entering rehab last fall on Thursday night (January 30th), when an exhibit featuring 10 of his classic custom cars opened with a ticketed reception at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

Hetfield took part in a chat and helped auction two of his ESP guitars at the event. He indicated he was proud to have his work on display at the museum, saying, "There's no other place like this. The Petersen is the pinnacle. It's the best place to have your vehicles. They weren't doing me much good sitting in my garage. I loved looking at them. The best part is they're all together. I didn't want to auction them off and (have them) go all over the world. It's a collection. It marks my life."

Also in attendance were Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo, along with former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony and Alice In Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell.

The exhibit officially opened to the public on Saturday (February 1st) and will also feature guitars and other memorabilia in addition to the cars. It's expected to remain at the Petersen into October.

Hetfield has been out of the public eye since last fall, when Metallica canceled an Australian tour and announced that Hetfield was returning to rehab to battle his addictions. The singer/guitarist first got treatment in 2002, a process that was chronicled in the 2004 documentary Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster.