[12] Bmw Museum Munich Making Monthly Discuss

Unlike the other museums, the blocky, postmodern, Guggenheimesque house of Mercedes places its vehicles in perspective with their time. Lining the interior and the spiraling ramps that descend though the ages of the marque are photographs and picture tableaus, some of them profound (Hitler, Einstein, the Titanic) and others less so (Elvis, Mickey Mouse). But all point to humankind’s turbulent history as it paralleled the development of cars from the Patent Motorwagen of 1886 up to the Mercedes SLS AMG that made its debut in September at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

The sense of Mercedes-Benz authority is especially felt among the racecars, exemplified by the indomitable “Silver Arrows” of the 1930s. Among these is the W25 Grand Prix racer of 1934 that became the stuff of legend when, reportedly, its white paint (Germany’s race color) was sanded off at the Nürburgring racecourse so the car would make the race’s weight qualification. Voilà! The white car became silver.

Audi’s Mobile Museum

Every enthusiast has a favorite German brand, and in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit mine is Audi. For those of similar persuasion, the Mobile Museum will not disappoint.

As at Mercedes, the visitor strolls top to bottom, down four floors, following a timeline of the company through the four brands that formed it: Horch, DKW, Wanderer and Audi — initially called Auto Union — in 1932. (A fifth company, NSU, was added in the 1960s.) Audi was liquidated after World War II and its factory in Zwickau, in eastern Germany, was taken by the Soviets. But buoyed by Germany’s economic rise in the mid-’50s, Audi re-emerged. Daimler- Benz owned Audi for seven years before VW gained control in the mid-1960s. The Audi 100 was the first model to reach the United States, in 1970.

There is convincing evidence that VW has had a powerful influence on Audi, which celebrated its centennial in 2009. But the early models also showed a sense of grace: the elegant 12-cylinder Horch 670 limousine looks fast even planted in a museum. The striking midengine R8 sports car carries the theme to the present.

If vorsprung durch technik (advancement through technology) resonates with you, there’s plenty of that on view. In the 1920s, Audi was the first German company to begin series production of left-hand-drive cars, to provide a better view of oncoming traffic. (Germans always drove on the right, even when their cars had right-hand drive.)

More examples of the company’s technology advances include a pair of 1980s Audi quattro coupes and the R15 TDI that finished second in 2009 at the 24 Hours of LeMans (after a string of Audi victories with the R8 and R10). It’s easy to spend a full day at the Audi complex, since it offers various factory tours, a gift shop and a cafeteria with soups, pastas, Bavarian desserts and, of course, those schnitzels.

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