There are lots of classic car museums in the world, and one of the most impressive is the Cite de l’Automobile, located in Mulhouse, France. Not only does it have the largest collection of cars in the world, the museum also houses the biggest assortment of Bugattis. Built around the Schlumpf Collection, the museum has expanded over the years to include a variety of vehicles, including a Maserati 250F, Mercedes-Benz W125 and three Type 41 Royales. It’s a must-see venue and we’re looking into the Cite de l’Automobile’s history.
The museum would never have come into existence if not for the classic car obsession of the Schlumpf brothers. Hanz and Fritz loved motors and during the 1950s they started collecting a vast number of vehicles, most notably Bugattis. By 1960 they’d acquired ten Bugattis, two Type 57s, three Rolls-Royces, two Hispano-Suizas and one Tatra. By 1967, the brothers had an inventory of 105 Bugattis.
It was decided the collection should be housed in the Mulhouse spinning mill and the brothers became secretive about their cars. Eventually, the Schlumpfs fell into debt and their collection was acquired by the French government. Declared a French Historic Monument by the Council of State, the collection was sold to the National Automobile Museum in 1981.
The museum opened in 1982 under the management of the National Automobile Museum of Mulhouse Management Association. However, the collection fell into decline until 1999 when a massive renovation project reinvigorated the cars. Today, the museum is listed as a National Heritage site and has various exhibits to check out.
What can be seen in the museum?
The Motor Car Experience Area
This exhibit is a tribute to the history of the car, featuring models from the early days all the way to the modern era. 243 vehicles are split across three sections called The Forerunners, The Classics and The Moderns.
The Motor Racing Area
This exhibition features a range of racing models, such as a 1957 Maserati 250F, Bugatti Type 32 and Lotus Type 33.
The Motor Car Masterpiece Area
This area contains 80 beautiful cars from the 1930s. They include the Bugatti Royales, a Panhard-Levassor X26, a Delahaye 1935 and the 1930 Coupe Napoleon which belonged to Ettore Bugatti.
The mascot collection contains a wide range of figurines and ornaments, like the Rolls Royce Spirit of Ecstasy. It’s also a wider celebration of car mascots in general, so you’ll be able to learn a lot.
This exhibit is dedicated to toy cars and framed through the viewpoint of how children saw ‘Daddy’s car.’ The cars on display date back to the beginning of the 20th century.
The Cite de l’Automobile is full of wonders and fun for the entire family. For more information you can go to http://citedelautomobile.com/en