My husband is a car nut, so he was in his glory when we lived in Germany. The Porsche and Mercedes museum are in Stuttgart, and since we lived outside of Stuttgart, we felt we could see those museums anytime. We missed out visiting the state of the art VW plant, I’m sad to say.
But on this early spring day; we visited the BMW museum in Munich. The Germans pronounce it “Mewn-chin”. I don’t know where the Americans got their pronunciation but I digress.
Originally, my husband wanted to visit the actual plant but was told the BMW people schedule those tours six months in advance so we settled for the museum.
Upon arriving, we thought the building we were in was the museum but it was actually the BMW factory showroom with a high-rise office building attached. The pristine showroom is modernistic in design and huge.
What fascinated us about the factory was if you buy a BMW and pay an extra 400 Euro (about $650) they will bring your new car up through the factory floor on a round dais to the factory showroom, spin it around so all the spectators and visitors can admire the new car and then allow you to drive it out of the building. An extraordinary and cool process to watch. Sadly, I only had a camera and didn’t get a video.
The museum was across the street from the factory and they had a walking bridge overpass to get to it. I snapped a photo of the building but couldn’t get the whole thing in because it was so big. I’d have needed a panorama camera to get it all in.
While I’m not a huge fan of the motor aspect of the cars, I like the history, the looks and the technology that has gone into making them. There’s also a bit of romance with the design of the cars. Guys are especially enthralled with all of it!
One element of the technology is the study of air flow. The first room we visited had silver balls hanging from clear wire (similar to fishing wire). This was the air flow room and the balls would move according to however they programmed the air to flow. It was uber cool to watch, but a photo doesn’t do this exhibit justice.
The old models were particularly fascinating, and I found them beautiful (and romantic). I particularly like the paint job on the 1934 model. I would drive that car! There weren’t many (at least I didn’t see them) from 1939 to 1950. I would imagine they curtailed the cars made for public consumption to work on war machines and were re-building their country and infrastructure after the war ended.
For those that don’t know, BMW stands for Bavarian Motor Works. BMW originally designed airplanes. The insignia is a circle with the blue (the sky) and white (propellers). The museum contained virtually nothing about heir airplane production. The Germans glossed over the war years. I believe they are ashamed of their country’s part in the annihilation of so many Jews.
I loved the little blue and black model that never went into production. It is SO cute! I don’t remember the year it was supposed to go into production but judging by the style, I believe it was the late 30s probably around the time World War II started.
They also had not only a chronology of cars but motorcycles (road and racing). The road cycles were stacked in a plate glass case that went from the bottom floor up to the top floor of the museum. This one reminded me of the one Harrison Ford and Sean Connery used in one of the Indiana Jones movies. Can you guess which movie?
This 1956 model was one of my husband’s favorites. Its sleek lines would attract anyone!
If you thought the “Smart” car is one that’s brand new. Think again because this tiny little car was built in 1955! It was called an Isetta. Notice that there are no side doors, it opens from the front and the steering is attached to the door! And it is super tiny!
Another favorite of mine is this Red job. I don’t know the year but notice the driver’s door. I would imagine the passenger door does the same. The door slides down but doesn’t open like a conventional car door. My husband seems to think we never saw it in the US because of safety reasons. I don’t know. I just like it!
Another of my husband’s favorite cars is this Z8 model. He can drool all he wants, he’ll never afford it! It’s over 235k Euros which is about 300k dollars! I can’t believe people would actually spend that much money for a car. Nice or not, to me it’s just not worth it! Of course, I can’t afford it either.
Remember that bowl-shaped building from the photos at the beginning of this blog? Well, there was a circular ramp with an open center so you can see to the bottom floor. I didn’t even count the floors because it made me dizzy but there were a LOT of them!
As we walk up the ramp on either side of the ramp, there are these big ball like structures attached to the handrails. They depicted the history of vehicles including the plastics and other elements of the production throughout the years. As we reach the top, there’s an incredibly long escalator, but it only goes ONE way – down, so we continue our trek to the top. When we get there, there’s a bevy of concept cars.
The very last exhibit had a video but no car on the dais. The video depicted the use of ultra-lightweight material allowing a person to open the door and it would bunch up (like skin). There were no openings where the door hinges should be. That’s the best description I can give for what we saw. It’s called the Gina. I would love to see the Gina (probably named for someone’s daughter or wife) in production but it won’t be for years.
Another building housed ONLY Z-4s! I spent at least 30 minutes playing with the onboard computer system which includes navigation, phone, contacts (probably downloaded from your phone), radio, DVD and CD’s. It was SO cool to play with.
As we were leaving, there was a gentleman who worked at the museum who had been standing around I think he had been eavesdropping our conversation. We were looking for the exit and he escorted us and we had a lovely conversation. It turns out he had spent a year in New York and traveled the southwest for 6 weeks. He loved the States and was curious about what we liked about Germany. During our long conversation, he finally admitted to speaking four languages, one of which was Italian! With a name like Damato, I would think so! Sadly, he no longer had any relatives in Italy. His grandfather had immigrated to Cairo no less.
We also visited the main plaza in Munich but that’s for another day. Enjoy the cars…I sure did!