Whether you consider yourself a high-octane gearhead or don’t know much about vehicles beyond the joys of parallel parking, visiting one of the incredible car museums in Stuttgart is a must.
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This city about two hours from Frankfurt in southwest Germany is like Mecca for auto enthusiasts, with the speedy Autobahn on its doorstep and being home to the headquarters of Mercedes and Porsche. It seems like everywhere you look there’s a gleaming Maserati or Ferrari driving by, and in underground parking lots it’s common to pull in next to sleek Lamborghinis and Speedsters.
Along with the two Stuttgart car museums, there’s also a place called Motorworld which is the ultimate destination for supercars complete with a themed hotel where you can sleep in an actual race car.
Here’s everything you need to know to get all revved up for these fun places to visit in Stuttgart.
Mercedes-Benz Museum Stuttgart
This architectural masterpiece is located outside the gates of the main Mercedes-Benz plant in Untertürkheim, made to resemble the double helix found in DNA. Its shell is fashioned from common automotive materials like aluminum and glass, and the notable curved structure means its 33 metre-high ceilings, ramps and triangular glass panes seamlessly flow into one another.
The Stuttgart Mercedes Benz museum hosts an impressive 1,500 exhibits spread out over nine levels, highlighting a good mix of the carmaker’s history tied in with important world events. More than a hundred vehicles are on display, starting from Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler’s original invention in 1886 that replaced the traditional horse-and-carriage, to the electric vehicles of the future.
Slip on your audio guide, and start the hours-long tour through seven Legend rooms which are a chronological outline of the brand’s long history. Learn how supercharged engines and diesel technology were pioneered, the challenging economic recovery following WWII, environmental innovation and the development of safety features like airbags and the anti-lock braking system, all while getting a close-up look at the classic cars.
It’s fascinating to see just how many facets of life Mercedes-Benz is a part of, from tractors to public buses to life-saving ambulances to the semi-trucks that transport our goods. Many of these models are on display in the ‘Gallery of Voyagers’ or ‘Gallery of Carriers’, which are a separate tour from the Legend exhibitions (but can be done simultaneously).
The tours end at exhibits highlighting Mercedes-Benz’s racing successes, and there’s also a gift shop and restaurant on site.
Globe Guide tip: If for some reason you still haven’t gotten your history fix after touring hundreds of exhibits, head over to the Birthplace of Gottlieb Daimler in Schorndorf. The historic home where Daimler was born has been painstakingly restored, and now showcases a large collection of documents and models relating to his work in the auto industry. Entrance is free.
The Porsche Museum Stuttgart
The design of the ultra-modern Porsche Museum in Stuttgart is equally as impressive as the Mercedes museum, thanks to its striking three columns which were constructed with more steel than even the Eiffel Tower and are fittingly topped with a trio of Porsche 911s.
While the Mercedes-Benz excels with its deep-dive through the centuries, the Porsche Museum is perhaps a better fit for families since it’s more interactive and quicker to get through with just 200 exhibits spread over a few floors. Follow the exhibition by always continuing to the left, as it’s easy to get turned around.
If you’ve got a need for speed, this is your spot: there are more than 80 race cars on display, including the iconic ‘Pink Pig’ (also known as ‘Big Berta’ and ‘Truffle Hunter’) which was the fastest car during the pre-race qualification session at Le Mans in 1971 despite its rather hefty design.
Guests can have their photo taken inside a Porsche, and there are demos where you can rev an engine or channel your inner Patrick Long and zip around the speedway in a virtual race car challenge.
To learn more about the production involved in the 911 and 718 sports cars, a 90-minute Porsche factory tour can be booked separately (contact for availability). Up for a splurge? Book a Porsche Drive, and hop behind the wheel of one of the latest models like a Cayenne, Panamera or Macan–it’s yours for the day!
Less of a museum and more of a showcase of the luxury auto world’s greatest hits, Motorworld is a must for car enthusiasts.
Located in Böblingen about 20 minutes from downtown Stuttgart, this area has seen many transformations over the years from airport to military base to the current complex which has nine different car brands and showrooms including McLaren, Bentley and Maserati.
The highlight is the exhibition area where a priceless collection of privately owned, high-performance sports cars are on display, and there are also multiple restaurants, a brewery, cigar room and boutiques. For an unforgettable experience, book a Drive It package and hit the road in a Mercedes, Tesla or Porsche to visit nearby spots like the Black Forest in style.
Auto junkies will want to book an overnight stay at the V8 Hotel, which has more than 150 rooms between two separate buildings including 26 car-themed suites. Absolutely no detail was overlooked, from the benches and lobby desk modeled after a car’s interior to a light installation and coffee tables fashioned out of hubcaps.
In the themed rooms, chairs mimic tailgates and helmets, and room numbers are marked by custom license plates. Each one is unique and designed by artists who source real salvaged vehicles to create beds from Porsches and Jaguars that are past their prime.
This family-friendly spot has lots of different configurations, including a camping-themed room with a bathroom that looks like an outhouse and a luggage holder designed as a barbecue complete with grilling utensils, and ‘Route 66’ which is the next best thing to the famed All American road trip. Click here to book
Whether you get behind the wheel or simply gawk at all of the sleek rides, it’s well worth spending a day or two at the car museums in Stuttgart.
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