Judy and I recently traveled to Europe and part of our holiday planning was to incorporate a visit to the Porsche and Mercedes Benz car museums in Stuttgart and the French National Automobile Museum (otherwise known as the Schlumpf Collection) in Mulhouse France. Each of the museums is worthy of an article in it’s own right, so I’ll submit an article on each museum over the next three Idle Chatters with accompanying photos. Let me state at the outset that if you are planning a trip to Europe, I would thoroughly recommend you incorporate a visit to at least one, if not all three of these museums. Even if you are not a car museum enthusiast or you do not like static displays, I believe you’ll be completely won over by the sophistication, the development history and the range of vehicles on display.
When you first approach the Mercedes Benz museum you are immediately struck by the futuristic architecture of the building even though construction was completed years ago. After visitors pay the entry fee of 8 Euros they immediately enter a lift to the 9th level to commence the tour and work their way down via a spiral walkway.
The top level commences with the display of both Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz’s first vehicles. As you walk down each of the levels vehicles are displayed in chronological order of vehicle development. It reinforces just how rapid the development of the motor vehicle was following the first petrol powered vehicle developed by Carl Benz in 1886. Juxtapose to the chronological display of vehicle development are photographs on the side walls of significant world events e.g. the world wars, cultural and scientific events helping to put the development into perspective.
On each level there is a breakout area which has a themed display relating to a specific area of vehicle development. The first themed display is the development of vehicles for the use of transportation of goods, of which Mercedes were the first adopters. The display of trucks range from the initial small very basic truck through to the large and modern very sophisticated trucks used for the various transportation requirements of today.
The next breakout display is the development of buses from the initial small and not so comfortable to the large very tourist coaches of today with all types of creature comforts. It is quite amazing when you see these buses side by side to appreciate how large the modern buses have become.
Another interesting themed display are the ‘Celebrity Vehicles’. These include the purpose built limousines for political leaders, emperors, kings etc (used mainly to deter the odd assassination attempt), the original ‘Popemobile’, cars owned by various movie stars and the bus used to transport the German 1974 World Cup Soccer Team. Also displayed is the 1991 Mercedes Benz 500SL owned and driven by Princess Diana, which upset the odd British loyalist or two.
The final display are a sample of all the vehicles that make Mercedes Benz’s racing history, from the very basic open (I’m prepared to die!!) race cars right through to the ultra- sophisticated Formula 1 car driven by Louis Hamilton.
There are excellent café/restaurant facilities for those who wish to break up their touring, and you can exit (surprise, surprise) via a very well stocked souvenir shop.
Words and pictures by Phil Barnard.