Travel across Germany with nothing but cars on the brain and four car museums tours on the itinerary, connecting three cities – Stuttgart, Munich and Ingolstadt that showcase the finest automotive history.
In the automotive world, good things often come in fours. Four doors, four-wheel drive and, in one corner of Germany, four of the planet’s finest motoring museums. Germany’s premium motoring brands can be seen the world over, but only in Stuttgart, Munich and Ingolstadt, the manufacturers – Audi, BMW, Mercedes- Benz and Porsche – have established the museums with priceless automotive history. Hundreds of cars on display range from the pioneering creations of Gottlieb Daimler, Carl Benz and August Horch through to the futuristic prewar designs of Ferdinand Porsche and on to the high-tech vehicles of the modern era.
These museums create a touring “golden triangle” that can be covered in a couple of days keeping Stuttgart or Munich as a base. Stuttgart is the hometown of both Mercedes-Benz and Porsche; BMW is based in Munich, a couple of hours away, and Audi is an hour north of Munich, in Ingolstadt.
Start your engine with the newest – Porsche
Let’s start with the newest (2009), and perhaps the most radical, of the museum quartet. There is nothing here to diffuse the focus: it’s on Porsches, everywhere, all the time. The classics in the Porsche Museum are guaranteed to turn heads. At the museum, you can learn all about this legendary luxury marque. The exhibition space is held up by just three pillars and looks as if it is about to take off. Above the V-shaped concrete pillars the theme of diagonals is carried inside. For those interested in details, you’ll find the models 356, 917, 911, 550, 924, 928 and so on.
Pure driving pleasure: BMW Welt
See, hear, feel and experience mobility. A car collection point and themed attraction unlike any other in the world, BMW Welt brings this prestigious brand to life. Munich, capital of Bavaria, is the home of Bavarian Motor Works (BMW) and its museum is BMW Welt (World). Consisting of a high-tech pathway through a series of seven conceptboxes on multiple levels, interactive displays are everywhere. Even the walls have moving images projected from within. These same walls speak to you in English or German, depending on where you stand. There is a huge touch-panel where you can explore the company history on your own. There are cars you drive and then there are cars you dream of.
Dream on the wheels – Mercedes-Benz
Open since 2006, this may be the Louvre of car museums, and it should be: this is the only museum to present the history of the automotive industry from start to finish. Before you even step foot in the building, you are struck by the museum’s futuristic design; and once inside, you cannot fail to be mesmerised by the 160 automotive gems on display. Visitors are guided via interactive headsets from the very first Benz cars all the way through to the models that we see on our streets and race tracks today. But rather than just telling the story of how a single brand has progressed over the decades, the walls leading patrons from exhibit to exhibit are covered with framed photos, video screens, display cabinets and information panels that put each generation of vehicle into its historical context.
Audi’s mobile museum never disappoints
Every car enthusiast has a favourite German brand, and in the interest of full disclosure, I will admit mine is Audi. For those of similar persuasion, the mobile museum will not disappoint. The museum showcases examples of all four brands from 1903 through to the modern Audis. A cutaway of a complete luxury, Audi from the ’20s shows the wooden body structure exposed. Wall descriptions and videos place each group of vehicles within the context of their time. In most cases, takeaway postcard-sized descriptions of each exhibit are provided in English and German.
So, while planning your next trip to Germany, keep cars in the brain and of course, these four car museums tours on the itinerary.