PDX Airport Image

Anyone who's traveled through the Portland (Oregon) International Airport (PDX) recently has likely heard the announcements and seen the signage that reminds the visitor that the airport has won Travel + Leisure Magazine's award for best domestic airport four consecutive years (2013-2016). For that reason alone, PDX is a great candidate for our first article in a new series of airport rental car guides!

While the PDX airport is easy to navigate, open, and has a substantial number of user facilities both airside and before security, we know the AutoSlash reader really wants to know all about rental cars and how to use them!

Without any further ado...

Rental Cars at the PDX Airport

At the PDX airport, customers should note just five rental car providers are located on airport property. As of February 2017, those limited providers are Avis, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, and National. Rent with one of these five providers and add your frequent rental club number at the time of booking for the best possible chance of exiting the airport quickly!

  • Avis: The location does have an Avis Preferred / Select & Go Exchange area.
  • Hertz: The location does have a Hertz Club Gold / Gold Choice area.
  • National: The location does have a National Emerald Aisle.

Directions for the providers located on the airport:

From the Baggage Claim area, take the elevator or escalator down one level and make a left at the end of the first moving walkway. A quick ride on the elevator up 1 or 2 levels (depending on rental car provider) and you can be on your way.

Signage from Baggage Claim is very clear. Walk toward the garage for all rental companies.

Take the moving walkway, then hang a left into the bank of five elevators.

Desire an Off-Airport Rental Car Company Instead?

All off-airport companies are going to require the same walk from the Baggage Claim area, taking the elevator or escalator down one level, walking the distance of the first moving walkway and making a left to the bank of elevators.

All off-airport companies are going to require catching a shuttle outside at Island 2. Yet even before the wait for the shuttle, three of the companies - Alamo, Budget, and Thrifty - have rental car counter agents at the airport. What could possibly be more annoying than barely missing a rental car shuttle bus? Missing a rental car shuttle bus one can see while in line with a counter agent!

Island 2 for the Off-Airport Shuttle, with a counter for Alamo, Budget, and Thrifty for Off-Airport renters.

Where to go with a Rental Car?

Where to go from the airport? While a trip to Powell's City of Books is great for the bibliophile, there's an option about an hour away for those who love transportation in every form. Many folks visiting Portland might think we're speaking about the fantastic Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, which houses Howard Hughes' H-4 Hercules (the Spruce Goose, for those who don't like alliteration).

Although that museum is also about an hour away from the airport, that's not AutoSlash's first recommendation. Heading east from the airport is the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum (WAAAM), ranked 7th on the Top 100 Destinations in Oregon list (Evergreen is 25th). The drive to WAAAM takes one up the incline of the Columbia River Gorge past sites like Cascade Locks, Horsetail Falls, and Multnomah Falls! One could easily manage to get sidetracked on the way to the museum but that would be a shame.

Why is the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum Special?

With limited exceptions, everything at WAAAM is operational, including cars more than 100 years old! Visitors on the second Saturday of each month may witness many of the exhibited cars and aircraft in operation. And if you plan well in advance, there's even the option of participating in classes to learn how to drive one of the museum's Model T Fords!

Children benefit from an interactive kid's room with runways, control tower, a climb-aboard airplane, a driving simulator, and a submarine - the activities in the room are even filled with authentic (but not functional) radio gear. And out on the main floor, kids young and old can see an operational model of a Ford Model-A Cutaway engine. The museum also provides one vehicle a month where visitors can sit for photographs - in February 2017, the vehicle was a 1951 Hudson.

What are the Must-See Items at the Museum?

Ever hear of an Everybody's Car? No? There's a great reason - WAAAM owns the only known example of the vehicle, which arrived at the museum just 6 days before our visit. The 1907 model needs work - it's one of the few items in the museum's collection of 135+ cars that doesn't currently run. Unlike a modern car, it's hard to find parts for a one-of-a-kind vehicle you just acquired!

In an era when the earliest examples of cars were made by bicycle manufacturers, it's not surprising to see chain drives. This unique vehicle surprises with a 2-cylinder engine cranking out a massive 10 HP with what is easily recognized as a modern muffler, a steering wheel, and rack-and-pinion steering 110 years ago!

The museum's newest delivery, a 1907 Everybody's Car still on the base of the shipping crate.

Electric Cars, 100 Years Before Tesla Motors (but While Nikola Tesla was Still Alive)!

Have you ever heard about the time when electric cars became obsolete? No, we're not making a joke or prediction about vehicles like the Tesla Model S - electric cars have already become obsolete once in automotive history! The museum owns Detroit Electric vehicles from the 1914 and 1932 model years.

What caused the obsolescence of electric cars? The electric starter! Early gasoline-powered vehicles were difficult to start, hence the invention of the electric starter. Although the electric car drivers had to carefully measure the charge of their vehicles (or burn up their batteries), there was a robust demand for electric cars in the early 20th century. A century later, what was old became new again!

Other Highlights of the Museum

Following the chronology of other early vehicles, one can see:

  • The transition from right-hand drive to left-hand drive in the United States.
  • The abrupt end of the Brass Era (where trim and fittings were made of brass) at the onset of World War I.
  • The shift from wooden firewalls to metal firewalls in the mid-1910's (engines were separated from the driver's feet by wood in the earliest days).
  • The advancement from tiller controls to a steering wheel.

  • Tiller controls and frequent accidents are why we're wary of "backseat drivers".

    The vehicles owned by - or loaned to - the museum include precursors to cars and manufacturers we would recognize today. The 1919 Scripps-Booth (1 of 7) represents one of the companies acquired by Chevrolet and General Motors. The most expensive car in the museum is a 1923 Hupmobile that - almost a century ago - was the muscle car of its time with a 6-cylinder, 120 HP engine. By 1936, one began to see modern features such as retractable headlights on the Cord 810 V8 Supercharger And stylish even today, who could forget a 1955 Pontiac Catalina Star Chief, where the hood ornament is designed in the form of a chrome jet airplane and the Pontiac Chief's head lights up while the vehicle is in operation!

    We all have our favorite exhibits at the museum; I took two pages of notes on a multiple-hour visit. Let us know once you find your favorites!

    Early auto designers thought of everything, including golf club storage

    when the in-laws were occupying the rumble seats (AKA "trunk").


    Next Steps?

    Ready to start your own adventure in/near Portland among the copious options available? Request a quote for your rental car now!

    Airport Rental Location Quick Guide







    9115 NE Airport Way

    Portland, OR 97220



    Sun - Sat

    4:00 AM - 1:30 AM




    (503) 249-4950

    24 hours



    10947 NE Holman St
    Portland, OR, 97220

    (503) 249-6331

    Sun - Sat

    4:00 AM - 1:00 AM




    (503) 249-4973

    24 hours




    (503) 252-1500

    Sun - Sat

    4:30 AM - 1:30 AM




    (503) 249-8216

    Sun - Sat

    5:30 AM-2:00 AM




    (503) 249-4900

    Sun - Sat

    4:00 AM - 1:30 AM



    3400 NE Columbia Blvd
    Portland, OR 97211

    (800) 729-5377

    Sun - Sat

    7:00 AM - 7:00 PM



    10800 NE Holman St
    Portland, OR 97218

    (503) 254-6563

    24 hours



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