On the 9th of December I turned another year older. To celebrate I went to Germany to indulge my inner obsession. Actually who am I kidding, I write for a motoring blog, I went there to fuel my massively outward obsession; cars, and while indulging this two things happened. I feel in love with Mercedes Benz and have become cripplingly obsessed with Porsches.
Now, I will admit I thought it might prove difficult to write something about going on holiday and not actually driving a single thing for 5 days but I needn’t have been so worried. When you go to Stuttgart the city’s motoring heavyweights are literally thrust in your face the minute you step off the train.
Stuttgart’s train station or as the Germans like to put it the Hauptbahnhof has a giant rotating Mercedes sign on its roof for heaven’s sake. The taxi ranks are rammed with E-classes and after 10 minutes walking I’d seen a Porsche 918 Spyder and a Mercedes prototype clad in black electrical tape sitting in a very German queue of traffic trying to disguise its identity. There’s also a Porsche tennis arena and a Mercedes Benz stadium, they really are quite keen that visitors notice where the money comes from. So naturally the city’s two main attractions are the museums of those aforementioned manufacturers. Pieces of architectural delight as much as they are museums, they both sit as prominent structures in Stuttgart’s skyline. However enough of me trying to sell you on the buildings, it’s all about the cars that lie behind the sculpted walls.
Porsche is where I started the day and I should add at this point that if you do happen to go on your birthday the lovely people there will waive the entrance fee. No seriously, I got in for free, a nice birthday surprise if ever there was one. After paying (8 euros normally) visitors are given an audio guide, it’s a bit cumbersome, reminiscent of an 80’s Walkman and the English is narrated by a very American man, however each car has a detailed audio description that’s worth listening too.
An escalator takes you to the exhibition hall from the lobby/reception/café area. I’m unsure if it was the architect’s intent to make this seem like an assent to Porsche heaven but they sure convinced me. Smooth pristine white walls jut out in different directions and spotlights glinting off them direct the visitor in and around the exhibition floor. The rise of Porsche from one man’s dream into the uber brand it is today is chronicled by putting almost every iconic car they have ever made on a small plinth, road cars loop up and around the outside wall encircling the firm’s formidable array of race cars in the middle.
Visiting the museum you realise there really is more to Porsche than the 911. The number of cars on display pushes this fact into your head in a very succinct German way, car after car. Everyone knows the story started with the Beetle but from then came the 356 in various guises, then the 911 which to be honest has spawned so many variants that even they deserve to be different cars in their own right. I mean todays 520bhp 911 turbo is so vastly different from 1964’s 128bhp original. In between came the 912, 914, 924, 944, the 928, 968 and of course there are today’s more modern offerings like the Boxster and Cayman amongst others. Lest we forget Porsche’s supercars too. The Carrera GT and the mighty 959, a car which Porsche proclaim every single one built is still roadworthy, a nice geeky fact for you there. I think what I’m trying to say is that visiting the museum is proof if you needed it of just how much Porsche has achieved. Oh and I haven’t even mentioned the motorsport accomplishments yet, particularly their dominance at Le Mans with the 917 and later with the 911 GT1. All these cars reside in the museum.
Not too long ago I wrote about my search for a new car on this very site, the Porsche Boxster featured in that search. I didn’t buy one in the end; and all I can say now is bugger, if only I’d visited the museum a month earlier. I had a soft spot for Porsches before but now I’m utterly obsessed. So all I can say is if you’re curious and have a slight incline to scratch a Porsche itch, then take a little trip to Stuttgart to convince yourself. If you’re really keen they’ll even start building it across the road in the factory. And as you wait, may I suggest you also pop to the Mercedes Benz museum; more on that when I figure out how to condense 9 floors of cars into a piece of writing. I’ll shut up now and leave you to look at the pictures.