The Schlumpf Collection
A fairly extensive look at the most amazing Car Museum IN THE WORLD!
Also called Cité de l’Automobile, the collection certainly had an intriguing history (check it out on Wikipedia!). But was it REALLY the most amazing Car Museum In The World? I understood that it houses the biggest collection of Bugattis, but is that enough to justify the big reputation?
There was only one way to determine the truth of that. A visit was in order. It turns out that the Collection isn’t the easiest place (in the world) to visit. We ended up staying in Basel, Switzerland (lovely!) and catching a train into France, to Mulhouse. From the Train Station in Mulhouse you can catch a tram which takes you straight to the Collection. Be warned though, that directions and help is very light on the ground, so start your day early.
Well, the entrance certainly looks the part! We’d pre-bought our tickets over the Internetz, and there wasn’t a queue. So far, so good! Getting here wasn’t easy, but getting in was!
Here’s a closer look at the sculptures next to the entrance.
Past the entrance, and you walk along a wooden suspended bridge.. Down and in..
As you walk along up in the roof space, you are already passing over some interesting exhibits – like this one in the Cafeteria, a replica of a very old Land Speed Record (105kmh) holder. All the signs seem to be in French AND English. That’s great!
And look! They evidently have enough Bugattis that they can just leave them laying around in the corridors!
And here’s something cool first up. Radiator Caps! Hundreds and Hundreds!
They certainly used to put a lot of effort into designing and creating these Radiator Caps. I could have easily spent a few hours looking at them all, but there were cars calling – I could sense it!
The museum is designed to take you on a journey through the history of the Car. Join me as we start with this 1891 Panhard & Levassor, which managed a heady 12 km/h, powered by a Daimler engine with 1&3/4 hp. Acknowledged as the first “Car” sold.
In 1904 the Swiss Dufaux brothers built this 8-cylinder monster. 12.7 litres and 90hp!! This car could reach 140kmh. And the workmanship is simply breath-taking.
And now we step into the main hall. And take a deep breath. Because the hall disappears into the distance, and it is PACKED with beautiful Cars. The bright lights and strategic use of mirrors make it look never-ending. How are we going to see it all?
Peugeot were very early into the business, with this 1893 Type 8. 3hp from a 1282cc 2-cylinder and a top speed of 20km/h.
Behind many of the exhibits were amazing period photographs like this one, often with an interesting story attached.
Also built in 1893 was this amazingly intricate Menier Double-Phaeton. It had a 4-speed gearbox, with each gear selected by it’s own pedal!
As a contrast, in 1893 Benz built this Vis-a-vis, which much more resembled a horse-drawn carriage. They were a big seller, especially in France. 20km/h from a 4.5hp single-cylinder motor.
By 1899 the British were making vehicles like this 2-cylinder Bus, using patents from Gottlieb Daimler.
De Dion-Bouton produced this 50km/h capabel 2-cylinder with 12hp in 1903. By this time the industry was booming, and 1300 workers were employed at the De-Dion Bouton factory.
There are literally dozens of cars from these early days, but we’ll move into a side hall which contains some newer classics.
A lot of these exhibits didn’t have a descriptive placard, unfortunately.
Panhard & Levassor
A Geugeot. There’s not a whole lot of information around about these.
1927 Hispano-Suiza Coupe. You had a Chauffeur to drive you, of course.
And just look at the style and the colours on this 1932 Bugatti Coupe Type 55! What a work of art.
There are SO many Bugattis here, and they are all just stunning! The stars of the show though (in my opinion) were the Royales. This 1929 Bugatti Royale Coupe was owned by the Bugatti family until purchased by Fritz Schlumpf
And here’s another, a 1933 Bugatti Limousine Type 41. The workmanship was just exquisite, and the design was years ahead of the rivals of the day. A straight 8 of 12.7 litres capacity powered the big Royales to over 100mph.
After walking past numerous Bugattis in the most amazing bright Reds, Yellows. Blues and Greens, we find this custom bodied Mercedes Cabriolet 540K. 180 hp from a 5.4 Litre straight-8. Lovely car
Always wanted Canework Door Panels? Look no further than this stately 1930 Rolls-Royce Limousine, a Phantom II.
This 1934 Cabriolet was built by a company now famous as the flagship of Mercedes – Maybach. It even boasted heaters for the rear seat passengers.
There are dozens more Bugattis and Rolls-Royces, Bentleys and Mercedes in here, but let’s step back out into the main hall. There are a HUGE number of pre 1930 vehicles out here, and they are all intriguing and interesting. Some are beautiful, some are ridiculous. There are many manufacturers – some of them I’ve never heard of, some are legendary. A very few still exist today, but it’s been a tough journey for car makers. We’ll walk past them, and start to investigate some more modern machines.
This lovely 1934 Standard-Swallow caught my eye. The company that made this morphed into what we know today as Jaguar when the designer William Lyons went on to form his own company.
In 1933 Alfa-Romeo built this Roadster Type 8C 2,6. A 2.6 Litre motor pushed this little car to 190km/h. On those tyres? I don’t think I’d like to do that! The bodywork was known as “Superleggera” or “super-lightweight”.
Good lord. This was built in 1936!! You can definitely see the Alfa-Romeo DNA in this Coach type 8C 2,9. This actual car won the Mille Miglia in 1936, finishing at night with no lights. Alfa reliability heritage right there too!
Many manufacturers back then built miniature versions of their cars for the children of rich clientele. Like this Bugatti! Some had petrol engines, and some were electric. These miniatures are dotted all over the museum, plus a dedicated display.
This 1930 Maserati was used on French roads until the 1960’s, when the driver was pulled over by the police for the massive amount of noise it was making. The driver was let off in return for taking the police officer for a ride. 2 Litre 8-cylinder.
Bugattis like this 1927 Sport Type 35B were raced very successfully, winning no less than 1,851 races between 1925 and 1927.
Nope, not a VW! This 1937 Mercedes-Benz Type 170H was designed by Ferdinand Porsche, hence the looks.
Another famous name long gone is Delage, who built this beautiful Berline Type D6-11 back in 1933. Delage focused on luxury vehicles like this.
And this 1946 Peugeot 202 was interesting, with the headlights mounted inside the radiator grill.
Another intriguing style was this 1937 Tatra Limousine, built in the Czech Republic. It was capable of 150 km/h with an 8-cylinder Air-cooled engine of 3 litres capacity.
I can’t remember what this is, but I loved it! It *may* have been an Aezens?
Another incredible piece of engineering for 1938 was this 3.5 litre Aezens Cabriolet.
Panhard-Levassor built this Dynavia prototype in 1948. It was designed to be fuel-efficient, and used only 3.51 litres per 100 km.
Gregoire built this lovely Sport Cabriolet in 1955, mainly from cast aluminium components. It had 4 wheel independent suspension and a supercharger.
This was the last model built by Panhard, a Type 24 CT in 1964.
Cute! Here’s an original Fiat 500 L, built in 1971. 500cc of raw power from the twin cylinder was good for 100 km/h. These were the smallest mass-produced car IN THE WORLD.
These are getting quite rare. A 1967 NSU Ro80, with the amazing Wankel Rotary engine. They were voted Car of the Year in 1967.
Now THAT’s a nose! Aston Martin Lagonda Series II. 5.3 Litre V-8 with 309 hp. They were fitted with revolutionary on-board electronics, and a digital dashboard which was originally designed for F-15 Eagle fighter planes. The most expensive car then.
1992 Ferrari Testarossa 512 TR, with improved exhaust and wheels from the earlier versions. 314 km/h from the 4.9 litre V-12. Normally seen in Rossa (Red), this was refreshing.
And how stunning is this Ferrari 250LM ? This one has only 2,000km on the clock (bit of a shame, really!)
Another famous but departed French manufacturer, Facel Vega built cars that were renowned for comfort and power. This is a Cabriolet Facel III built in 1963.
This Ferrari 450 AM was stunning too, and really caught my eye. 230km/h from a 4.9litre V12. This one belonged to the Emperor of Annam (now part of Vietnam) and has an imperial symbol on the bonnet, just above the Ferrari badge.
Seriously? You are Soooooooo good looking! 1953 Alfa-Romeo Sport C52. 200 km/h from a 2litre 4 cylinder, and was one of the “flying saucer” series, although it has a more conventional body for improved stability.
Who wants to look at this 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL? I DO!! I DO!! what a magnificent piece, it’s more than a car, it’s art. The legendary Gullwing.
Now we’ll leave the main hall, and go into the motoring hall. It’s been quite a day already, but we can’t stop now, there is gold in here, I can feel it.
Both this Rally and a street version of the legendary Alpine were displayed. Very beautiful, and very successful in their day.
Did we just step onto a Formula One track? Because this definitely looks like the starting grid to me! We’ll come back to these in a minute.
This looks cool! This 2006 Porsche RS Spyder won the Sebring 12-hour and Le Mans 24-hour twice each, and 3 LMP2 championships in the U.S.
Here’s one for the Audi fans! Audi’s first Le Mans entry, back in 1999, where it got 3rd and 4th place. It looks fast just sitting there!
Stirling Moss won the Mille Miglia with one of these 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR’s. Very pretty race car.
These Maserati 300S’s were Ferrari’s main rivals in the 50’s. Stunning car! This one was built in 1955 and had a 6 cylinder 3 litre motor.
Those of us old enough to remember the nasty little Simcas that were sold up to the 70’s probably never thought of Simcas as race cars. This one, a 1937 Type 5, held several speed records though.
These Mercedes-Benz GP W154 were made largely of magnesium alloys to keep weight down. This one has a 12 Cylinder motor with 3 litre capacity and ran out to 280km/h.
There are literally dozens and dozens of these beautiful old racecars here, in a setting that has sound clips of Formula One cars screaming by, and pictures and props that give you as much a level of atmosphere as you’ll get in a museum. I’d love to show them all to you, but this post would go for ever. So let’s have a bit of a look at some more modern F1 cars.
The legendary Jim Clark drove this actual car, a 1963 Lotus Type 33 to victory in the 1965 Dutch Grand Prix. It was later used in the movie “Grand Prix”. What a piece of history!!
Alain Prost drove this 1983 Turbo Renault-Elf Type RE 40 to 20 victories and nearly 40 pole positions. If you ever heard these cars on real life, you can probably close your eyes and recall the sound, it was so memorable.
In 1993 Alain Prost drove this Williams Renault FW15C to win his fourth Driver’s Championship.
And this 1994 McLaren-Peugeot was driven by Mika Hakkinen. It had the amazing sounding V10 3.5Litre engine with 750hp.
And this 1995 Benneton B195 was driven by Michael Schumacher to win both the Manufacturers and Drivers Championships.
I had to show you this 1923 Bugatti Type 32. It was known as “The Tank Car”. There’s a free lollipop for the first person to figure out why. It was clocked at 189km/h in 1923. Not styled like your usual Bugatti, for sure.
And here are a few shots of the amazing Bugatti Veyron. Apologies for the quality of the pictures, the lighting made it very difficult to get a decent shot.
So, with a last look back at the main hall, we’ll make our way to the exit.
Leaving the museum takes us past dozens more exhibits, like this rolling Bugatti chassis. Since these early days of motoring, so much has changed. But so much has stayed the same.
There are exhibits of design, workmanship, and engineering. There are beautiful static displays of Engines of all sizes and configurations. It is hard to take it all in, and I am so glad I had my camera to make a record that I could look back at.
I started this post with a question. Is Schlumpf the greatest car museum in the world? After spending a day here, I am absolutely certain that it is the greatest that have ever seen. There may be better. If there is, I will find it, I hope. But I think that EVERY car museum is in it’s own way great, as they all offer different experiences, and invoke different memories and thoughts for everyone that visits. You’ll have to visit to make your own mind up.
I will also say that Schlumpf is a very clever and thoughtful place. It takes you step by step through the whole history of the motorcar, and tries to show you just how amazing these engineers and mechanics were. They built what was a dream into a reality that touches almost every human on the planet. The reality has opened up the world, and learning a little more about the foundations and the journey left me feeling somewhat humbled and very amazed.
I took pictures of every vehicle that was on display that day. If you want to see more pictures, by all means message me and I’ll tell you where to find them.
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