The Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen, Germany
If you are a motorsport enthusiast, you probably know about historic sports cars, racers and races; if not, you are interested in learning about some the above; if you are technically inclined, you love the beauty of sports cars, perfection and ingenuity of their engineering, their development from the very beginning to the present day.
Whatever part of motorsports and cars fascinates you, the Porsche Museum is for you. Astrophysathingy and Ivy took the opportunity during this holiday season’s visit to Germany.
Regardless where you are in Germany or the surrounding countries, all distances are small by US standards. Zuffenhausen is a suburb of Stuttgart, which is only a 2 hr Autobahn drive – don’t you love those? – in your rental car or a high speed train ride from both Munich and Frankfurt; distances to other major places in Germany are very doable, too. There is public transport from the Stuttgart Main Railway Station (go to the German Railway website) and they have reasonably priced (4 EUR) garage parking for your rental car.
See the Museum’s webpage for opening times, holidays and location.
THE BUILDING AND PEOPLE
Porsche had an impressive piece of architecture built that matches their reputation of mixing exciting engineering and design.
Staff we talked to were friendly and professional. The building is bright, roomy, brand-new. Entry fees are 8 EUR for adults, they have a coffee bar and the “Pitstop” restaurant, all reasonably priced, with an additional upscale restaurant on site.
The museum offers great audio guides in your language. For groups, guided tours of the museum and factory can be arranged, but you need to contact the museum ahead of time. Email info…@porsche.de for museum tours, and werk…@porsche.de for factory tour inquiries. See their webpage again for more contact information. They are very helpful – I had emailed them with a question and got a call back to the US (!) within 15 minutes.
Of course, there is a gift shop where you can select some pleasantly non-kitsch souvenirs of your dream cars. Taking photos is allowed.
Porsche have managed to cover a lot within one single walk-through exhibition, without ever causing confusion. While walking the several building levels upwards in a spiral pattern, you go through Porsche’s history chronologically; while doing that, they describe not only the history of the cars, the brand and their racing history and achievements.
They also guide you through the development of sports car technology through the ages, and tell you about their brand philosophy. The exhibit is so well-thought and clear that you are never overloaded with details, and never lose any of the threads of the above topics.
The cars start out with the first pre-Porsche vehicles that Ferdinand Porsche helped develop, go through the Beetle and the first Porsche model (the 356), its successors and modifications; the transition to the 911 era; the breathtaking 911 Carrera and Turbo; the 924, 944, 928; then the Boxster and latest-generation Porsche models. They have engine models, and quickly understandable, clear displays of their technology.
And, along the way, there are racecars, racecars and more racecars.
You will see more original motorsports legends – cars that won the actual big historic races – than in probably any other place in the world. Generations of LeMans GT and prototype cars, the famous rally 911, and the whole line of the legendary 917s in all their unforgettable liveries – the ‘pig’, the Gulf car, you name it. If you are a racing enthusiast, plan for some time to dream and be moved.
There are many names of familiar drivers on the cars – Stuck, Donohue, Ickx, Roehrl, and an F1 racecar that says ‘Prost’ on the intake, all within a foot of you, with no fences or screens in between. You probably shouldn’t try to find out whether Alain’s racing seat fits your butt, but you are right there, a foot from the cars, crouching between LeMans winning racecars.
Everything is bright, very roomy, well-arranged, and you always see yourself surrounded by wonderful automotive dreams of a certain era, with the past visible behind you and the future winking ahead.
Apart from that, the museum has some special gadgets, like vibrating ground platforms with half-spherical speakers above; standing on those platforms, you can hear the engine sound of some of their signature cars, and feel the vibration through your feet – imagine the goosebumps when they play the 917.
They have special exhibits – when we visited, it was “60 years of Porsche in America”, displaying the history of the brand in the US.
To make things better, their exhibition cars are still active – they regularly take them out to vintage events on the roads and tracks, then shine them up and place them back into display. Their maintenance shop has a big panorama window for you to watch while you slurp your cup of Kaffee.
It took us about three intense hours to go through the whole exhibition, take many photos and listen to some of the audio guide stations. You should plan extra time for a snack break and the gift store. In addition, there is a huge Porsche showroom next door to get your eyes wet once more.
If you get a chance, the Porsche Museum is in my opinion a must-do. For any car or racing enthusiast, it is a perfect day. It is a day trip from about any location in Germany, and if you still don’t have enough at the end of the day, you are in the middle of the Golden Triangle – you can visit another big car manufacturer (the one with the star) in the same city, or the one with the rings about an hour drive away, or the one with the Octoberfest 2 hrs away.
We had an awesome day and left with a big happy smile. And that may be the dangerous part: Do you remember my article on the cost of club racing, and why my first racecar got to be a 4-cylinder Civic, not a 911? The evening after the museum, I caught myself browsing Craigslist ads for used Boxsters, reading up the rules for the National Autosports Association’s Spec Boxster class and SCCA’s Improved Touring R, and thinking whether renting a second garage would be a crazy thing to do.
The museum has a very reasonable entry fee. I have a feeling that one day, this visit may cost me much, much more.