Thu, 10 Mar 2005


Car celebrate in new museums

STUTTGART: Porsche and Mercedes, two of the proudest names in Germany motoring history, are currently building separate museums in Stuttgart to show off their traditions and enhance the fascination that their marques engender.

The buildings are themselves intended to be architectural splendors, Porsche spending more than 50 million euros and DaimlerChrysler between 100 and 200 million.

Porsche's museum is at its home in Zuffenhausen where it will reveal the Porsche Cosmos through 80 sports cars.

DaimlerChrysler is building a 47-metre high structure to house 180 valuable cars from its rich legacy - Mercedes is the oldest carmaker in the world.

"Our museum is an extended street; we have rejected the traditional museum layout," Porsche spokesman Anton Hunger says in describing the new concept.

Cementing links with clients is not the only aim behind the millions being invested, rather the companies are looking to the future with confidence.

Displaying the models with which both marques scored success on the world's racetracks is seen as a powerful marketing instrument.

"Look over here. We are companies that were right at the forefront years ago," is the message these museums intend to broadcast to visitors.

Both companies are, after all, feeling the pressure of competition from newer concerns that have entered car manufacture.

There is probably no better place than Stuttgart for a museum in honor of the motor car aimed at an international public. Over the past 50 years, guests of the state and crowned heads have come to the city, not to hold political discussions, but to pilot a Mercedes around the test track and to enthuse over the historic cars on display.

Not a few have come to pick up their custom-built model from the very factory floor where it was built.

The two museums already in existence lure visitors in numbers that other car makers can only dream about. Mercedes alone has well over half a million visitors to its museum a year, and they come from all over the world.

To date Porsche has displayed its sports cars in a rather small museum, which is visited by 80,000 enthusiasts a year. Now it is aiming at three times that figure.

There will be no attempt to dazzle the visitors to the new showcase with a "world of experience", rather the focus will be on the cars themselves.

"We intend to present the automobiles on their own in a museum that is crystal clear in its concept," Hunger says.

Porsche does not need any introduction, the shape and power of the vehicles being all that is required, he says.

Just as they triumphed on the world's racetracks in the past, now both carmakers intend to be ahead in the architectural stakes, claiming that theirs will be spectacular modern designs that will match their most recent creations.

DaimlerChrysler sees its museum as its "business card". It will be a spiral building, meant to look like the inside of a motor block rising up.

Stuttgart is proud of its new museums, city officials noting that no other city in Europe is building two new museums dedicated to the car. --DPA