The private collection of the Porsche Family is the best-kept secret car museum
First posts usually warrant some introduction, I am an automotive enthusiast with a faible for high end classic cars and car shows in general. In the crosshair of these factors one will find the most prominent car museums that offer technology and history usually paired with a breathtaking scene setting. For a few years I’ve been blogging around, and I recently launched a website (egzostive.com) to gather my mind’s byproducts in a single location.
So far bloggin’ managed to kept me busy enough to avoid the ultimate pitfall: the acquisition of my own classic dream car. I visited many great locations from regular visits to Retromobile and Techno Classica and in between car shows, I am also on a quest to visit the greatest car museums in the world. The task proved to be a greater challenged than I presumed.
I saw the fleet of soviet “beast ones” in the Riga Motor Museum and the Rekordwagen of Mercedes in Stuttgart that kept its record for 80 years. I saw long lost brands masterpieces like Cisitalias in Turin, Bugattis and Hispano Suizas in Mulhouse or Pegaso in the Hague. Being lost for hours with an acute overdose of Bugattis but still taking time for a (rather pathetic) attempt to drift with a Dodge Viper on the Cité de L’Automobile’s private oval track. And living through these two extremes in the same afternoon in Mulhouse…
I think that probably illustrates what keeps me spending time going to the far ends of the continent. Automotive bloggin' does take its toll in spare time. Since I'm beginning to feel the signs of addiction, after some brainstorming I've come up with a practical cure: the most obvious way of dealing with mental addiction is an overdose. That is, why I to embarked on an intercontinental tour in the epicenter of automotive Nirvana, a nine-hundred kilometer road trip from Sochaux to Salzburg to see nearly a dozen great locations in less than four days. If this doesn’t overdose, nothing will.
This post is about the last stop, a Museum that might not be familiar even to Porsche enthusiasts, the Fahrtraum Museum in Salzburg, the private collection of the Porsche Family.
I discovered one of the best-kept secret of Austria, the private collection of the Porsche family, last summer in a Salzburg based “star trip”. I am quite familiar with Salzburg, but I only visited upon my fourth return. The Museum is quite well hidden, located in Mattsee near the city of Salzburg, in a cozy corner of the lake (their website is quite informative). The surrounding area of Salzburg offers lots of attractions, starting with the unbeatable combination of the famous Hallstatt/Salzwelten/Dachstein trio or the trip to Königsee.
For car geeks, the private vault of Mr. Mateschitz, the founder of the Red Bull empire, is a must see. Hangar 7 showcases his pride and achievements encompassing aircrafts and race cars. The ultramodern hangar building strikes a stark contrast to the simple and functional Porsche building hiding smoothly in the picturesque lakeside landscape.
The Collection is managed by Ernst Piech, the eldest grandson of Ferdinand Porsche. Although my visit took place last year, the 70th Anniversary of the Porsche car company provides an excellent opportunity to recall the experience, and Salzburg was a great destination for the roadtrip. In principle, such private collections should not be measured against factory museums of prominent manufacturers (such as the Porsche Museum Stuttgart), but Fahrtraum and Hangar 7 can hold their own. In fact it’s a perfect complementary to the Porsche Museum.
The desk of Ferdinand Porsche
One of the first attraction to greet visitors when entering the first chamber is a Porsche Lohner Mixte, a plug-in hybrid electric car conceived way before it was cool.
The car was the first assignment of the only 25 years young Ferdinand Porsche, commissioned by the Monarchy’s prime coachbuilder Lohner-Werke, and was among the first electro-petrol hybrid cars, hundred years before Toyota…
Ferdinand Porsche also designed a Tesla for the Emperor, who despised the loud engine of his Austro Daimler.
Next to the Lohner, a Tractor simulator awaits wealthy visitors. This is not a PlayStation-based solution, but a real Porsche Diesel Tractor on a dynamometer.
Beyond the Lohner hybrid, the main hall hosts a set of truly impressive oldtimers from the pre-WW II era. The cars also notice the approaching visitors and greet them with realistic engine sound from the speakers.
This might not be the real thing, but it does make an excellent impression, and many will not miss the adverse side effects of an early 20th-century engine actually running, and the next paragraph might explain why.
Fahrtraum is a true paradise for families. I counted more educational and interactive elements than in Zuffenhausen, beyond education there is lots of sheer fun.
The organisers installed a realistic oldtimer-simulator cabin, which offers realistic controls (pedals, gauges and gear shift levers). Its quite a challenge to drive uphill in the simulator, with a car that won’t make it up in second gear. The simulator is not as forgiving as the modern ones: ear screeching rattling accompanies every shift with imperfect clutch handling. In addition, the Museum offers half a dozen simulators, some 4-5 triple-screen simulators are awaiting kids of the younger generations but the gyroscopic triple-screen simulator definitely steals the show (yet requires a strict age limit of 16), even if there is another oldtimer that integrated a PS3 trying hard to attract attention.
For those youngsters seeking the real thing, there is a Carrera race track with cars that you can borrow for a small deposit, as well as a little town with trolleys.
For the younglings immune to the car mania, there is creativity corner. Essentially the museum does its best to offer games for children from 2 year to 99. Fahtraum is probably the most child-friendly museum of the dozen Museums that I visited.
Now that we found something for children of all ages, it is time for the daddies to attend to attractions. This floor still holds two other rooms, one hosts legends such as the stars of many WW II movies, the VW Typ 82 “Kübelwagen” and its innovative amphibious comrade, the VW Typ 166 “Schwimmwagen”. We can also admire some long-lost brands, for example the impressive coupé of Austro-Daimler.
In the other room, about a dozen exciting 30’s oldtimers were parked. In one end, the restoration centre showcases the current projects (including a bare chassis) in the other, we can see the office of Ferdinand Porsche, with memorabilia and original office furniture. It strikes an interesting contrast to the Toyota corner in the Louwman (with the oldest Toyota and the desk of Mr. Toyoda, as a sign of the Company’s gratitude).
The final punch line is delivered in the basement, in the form of a Tractor-exhibition, which gives enough ammo to make jokes about the term Porsche Diesel for the next decade or so.
For those unfamiliar with the brand, the tractor factory started its production in the 50’s at a factory near the Bodensee under the Porsche Diesel brand, using the designs of Ferdinand Porsche for a People’s Tractor (Volksschlepper).
There is also a wide range of other brands downstairs, my favorite the futuristic yellow Algauer, even if I wonder what competitive advantage the airflow slug would bring to the owner.
I was positively surprised by the Fahrtraum Museum in every way. It was much larger, better and, above all, more interactive (and thus more family friendly) than I had expected. During my revisit this year I noticed that the museum got even better. Apparently, the Museum managed to take this interactivity further since then, and now I also found three new simulators that were incorporated into (slightly) scaled down versions of epic cars of the Museum (such as, the Prince Heinrich and the Lohner Mixte).
Basically, the first hour was spent in full serenity while the kids got acquainted with the new simulators (the new cabins are quite cool, but the curved 60-inch screens did help too : ) ). If that would not be enough, there is a new airplane simulator near the stairway to the Tractor exhibition, that was also further enhanced with new explanations and additional tractors.
Fahrtraum is a perfect addition to the Porsche Museum, I am truly astonished about the novelties I learned in Mattsee. With a stronger focus on the work of Ferdinand Sr. and on Austrian car industry, the exhibition holds its own, complements the Porsche Factory Museum without redundancy and is definitely a must-see for car enthusiasts looking for something beyond the trivial.