Toutes les Machines du Monde

Europe

Automobile museums arranged by rating

 Click on the photo for each museum to visit our photo page for that museum

The Louwman Museum, The Dutch National Auto Museum     ★★★★★ 

The Hague, The Netherlands

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www.louwmanmuseum.nl/

An absolutely amazing experience! This is a fantastic place combining wonderful display areas with the finest, most varied collection of both restored and original automobiles I’ve seen.  Add excellent printed materials in Dutch and English giving detailed histories of the cars on display and you really have something.  Add again an amazing collection of photographs blown up and displayed with the cars; not just any photos, but actual pictures of this individual car either in races or with its original owners, and the overall effect is stunning.  Not to be missed.  Click on the photo to see more information about the collection and to go on to the photo page.  Not surprisingly, the museum’s website is also excellent.


Juan Manuel Fangio Car Racing Museum, Belcarce, Argentina    ★★★★★

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www.welcomeargentina.com/balcarce/fangio-car-racing-museum.html

This is a fantastic museum of racing cars and memorabilia housed in the home town of the five time World Champion.  It’s a wonderful collection of cars ranging from the type of hot-rod American cars Fangio raced in Argentina in the 30’s and 40’s right up to his Grand Prix cars from Ferrari, Maserati and Mercedes-Benz which took him to five titles in seven years from 1951-57.  If you are ever in Argentina try to get to Balcarce, a rural city south of Buenos Aires, so that you can see this collection.  Outstanding!  I have listed this museum in the Europe section because of its links to European racing.


Donington Grand Prix Collection, Derbyshire, England    ★★★★★

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www.donington-park.co.uk/about-donington/the-donington-grand-prix-collection/

Donnington Park is one of many historic British racing venues.  We came across this wonderful collection of racing cars while on the way to another course, nearby Mallory Park.  Billed as the “Largest showcase of Grand Prix racing cars in the world”, the collection is truly impressive.  Emphasis is on British cars but the collection includes other cars as well.  Wonderfully displayed, with great posters and other information displays, this is a don’t miss museum of auto racing.  We returned for a second visit in 2014 (our first time was in 2010) and found many changes.  We learned that at any given time many of the cars on display are on loan to the museum and so may not be there on a subsequent visit.  Also, some of the cars that are part of the permanent collection may be lent out to other venues.  As a result, there was a lot of turnover in the specific cars on display for our two visits.  Nonetheless, this is still an excellent museum and all of my positive comments from the first visit still apply.  On our photo page, the first fourteen pictures are from 2010; the remainder from 2014 so you can see the changes for yourself.


Morgan Motor Company, Malvern, England     ★★★★★ 

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www.morgan-motor.co.uk/

This iconic car company remains family owned and operated after more than one hundred years of production.  It is an amazing company with a well established and solidly based niche in the worldwide marketplace.  In addition to the “old” cars still hand built in the traditional manner, they manufacture state of the art sports and racing cars and a fantastic new three-wheeler that harks back to the original Morgan.  Their is a small museum but it is the factory tour that is the reason to visit.  It provides a real education and the company is something of an inspiration.  A nominal fee is charged and reservations are required.  Check out their website.



Cité de l’Automobile, The French National Auto Museum     ★★★★★

Mulhouse, France

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www.citedelautomobile.com/en/home

This is a large and extensive collection that includes the largest number of Bugatti cars in one location anywhere in the world.  Located near the original Bugatti factory in Molsheim, it is considered to be the unofficial Bugatti museum.  The cars are in good , though not outstanding condition and the display areas suffer some from low ceilings and poor lighting.  Still, the collection is large, many of the displays are imaginatively done and the museum features a number of old black and white racing films being shown continuously.  Well worth the visit.

 

Mercedes-Benz Museum, Stuttgart, Germany     ★★★★★ 

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www.mercedes-benz-classic.com/

This is a fantastic museum, recently built and spectacular in design.  The collection of touring and racing cars ranges from the original creations of Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz right up to the most modern models.  Mercedes-Benz Racing is well represented with cars on display from all periods of their racing activity.  The organization of the museum and the way it leads the visitor through the decades is exemplary.  Altogether another must see automotive museum.


The Nicolis Museum, Villafranca di Verona, Italy     ★★★★★

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www.museonicolis.com/

This museum is a real find, literally.  It is a wonderful, wonderful collection displayed in a purpose built facility, and we just happened to see a billboard for it on our way to Verona.  The museum shows off not only a wonderful group of automobiles, but also motorcycles, bicycles, photographic equipment and musical instruments.  It is all the astonishing work of Italian tycoon Luciano Nicolis.  The museum was opened in 2000 and should not be missed.  As a visitor, the only drawback is that the new building isn’t nearly big enough to display these treasures to best advantage.


Riga Motor Museum, Riga, Latvia     ★★★★

www.motormuzejs.lv/  

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This is a really nice four star museum with one absolutely stunning five star exhibit that makes any trip you have to make worth whatever effort it took to get there.  The pictured 1938 Auto-Union Type C/D sixteen cylinder racing car is so special and so unique and just so drop dead gorgeous that you just have to find a way to go to Riga to see it.  Whew!  The rest of the museum is very interesting as well, with a lot of cars you won’t see in other museums, particularly a large exhibit of eastern bloc models.  By itself it is well worth the visit; but the Auto-Union is the real draw.  The link will take you to the detailed history of this car and from there you can go on to the photo page.  Enjoy. 


Porsche Museum, Stuttgart, Germany     ★★★★★ 

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www.porsche.com/international/aboutporsche/porschemuseum/

Housed in a striking modern building, this museum is a highlight.  In addition to Porsches going right back to number 1 in 1948, we also learn some of the personal history of Ferdinand Porsche and his career before that point, including his time as engineer for the famed Auto-Union racing cars of the 1930s and the development of the Volkswagen, which was about to begin series production until halted by the outbreak of the war in 1939.  In addition to the permanent collection, a large area is given over to temporary exhibit space and of course these cars will vary over time.  At the time of my visit the focus of the exhibition was Porsche’s long and successful history at the Twenty-Four Hours of Le Mans with numerous Porsche racing cars on display.  I visited the museums at BMW, Audi and Porsche during a ten day period and the Porsche Museum was unquestionably the best of the three, ranking just below the fantastic Mercedes-Benz museum among the four German manufacturer’s offerings.  

Museo Ferrari, Maranello, Italy     ★★★★

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www.museoferrari.it  

One of two Ferrari museums in the Modena area, this one is adjacent to the factory in Maranello and is likely the original Ferrari Musem.  Some of the cars on display are in temporary exhibits, but most of the ones I’ve shown I believe to be part of the permanent collection.  I have been to better museums, but I have never seen more beautiful automobiles.  My passion is for the cars of the fifties and sixties and the photos reflect that, but if you like newer cars, there are plenty of them as well.  If you get to this area, be sure to see both of the Ferrari museums; you will not be disappointed. 


Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari, Modena, Italy     ★★★★

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www.museocasaenzoferrari.it  

The second of two Ferrari museums in the Modena area, this one tells the story of Enzo Ferrari’s life and the founding of Ferrari as a manufacturer.  The cars on exhibit are shown as temporary exhibitions rather than as a permanent collection.  The group of photos shown here are of Grand Prix cars between 1949 and 1994 said to have been selected on the basis of technical merit.  The cars are gorgeous and the exhibit space is modern and well lit.  Whatever cars might be on display during your visit, they will surely be well worth your time.


National Auto Museum, Beaulieu, England      ★★★★ 

www.beaulieu.co.uk

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The National Auto Museum of Britain is located in the New Forest of Southern England, west of Portsmouth, on the private estates of Lord Montagu.  The cars are very nicely shown in a modern purpose built building with period backgrounds and building fronts for atmosphere.  While not overly large, the collection includes many attractive autos and seems to have a rather large staff on hand to maintain and show them to best advantage.  Be sure to catch the daily running of one of the older units as this is a rare treat.  The main downside to a visit to the museum is the high cost of entry as the visitor must pay for a visit to the entire grounds of the estate and not only the auto museum portion; at the time of our visit in October 2015, entry was £18, or about $27.00.  On the other hand, for the traveling family the rest of the estate could also make for a wonderful visit.

BMW Museum, Munich, Germany      ★★★★ 

www.bmwmuseum.com

The BMW Museum displays both cars and motorcycles back to their first motorcycle in 1923 along with some airplane engines from before that.  The museum is in a very nice building with mostly excellent display areas and lighting.  Unfortunately, too many of the motorcycles are exhibited behind glass or plastic panels making reflections a problem.  The cars are treated better than the cycles in this regard and generally I would say that someone primarily interested in the motorcycles might well leave somewhat disappointed.  The BMW Welt occupies a separate and much larger and newer facility than the museum.  This is where new BMWs, both cars and cycles, are shown and where buyers can take delivery of their new vehicles. This is a nice museum, but not as interesting as either the Mercedes or Porsche museums.

Audi Museum, Ingolstadt, Germany     ★★★★

www.audi.com

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The Audi Museum is the smallest of the four major German manufacturers (Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and BMW being the others) and is housed in a very nice building, but not as elaborate or modern as the others.  It is also the least expensive to visit, although all of them are quite reasonably priced.  The collection covers not only Audi vehicles, but each of the manufacturers who banded together in the 1930s to form Auto-Union; Horch, DKW, Audi & Wanderer, and includes a few motorcycles.  Unfortunately, some of the most beautiful early cars are displayed behind glass, while others are parked directly in front of the large windows going around the circular building.  Each of these display choices is always a frustration to the photographer.  The highlight of the exhibit for me was a pair of 1938 Auto-Union type C/D racing cars; one a Grand Prix car and one a dual rear wheeled hill climb car.  Both cars were reportedly discovered in the Soviet Union and restored to their present immaculate condition in England.  In addition to the permanent collection there is space for temporary exhibits.  

August Horch Museum, Zwickau, Germany     ★★★★

www.horch-museum.de/   

Zwickau was the Detroit of the former GDR and it has been a manufacturing point for automobiles since 1909.  Beginning with Horch, on to the formation of Auto-Union, then the ubiquitous two-stroke Trabant during the cold war period and on to a modern Volkswagen plant in the city today; this museum tells the story.  A bit pricey, and with little information in English, it is still a very nice place to visit and the cars are lovingly displayed. 


The Haynes Motor Museum, Sparkford, Somerset, England     ★★★★

www.haynesmotormuseum.com/   

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This particular museum was, I must say, a bit of a disappointment.  In all honesty as I review the photos and am reminded of the collection itself it is really quite good.  The variety of cars is perhaps not really special, although they are clean and seem well maintained.  I felt there were four specific things about the museum that lessened my opinion of it at the time of my 2015 visit.  The first is perhaps a bit unfair.  I visited this museum in close combination with both the Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum, which is truly special; and the British National Auto Museum, which is excellent.  The Haynes is simply not on the same level as these two nearby competitors.  Also, while the building is new and was purpose built to house the collection I found it to be fairly mundane and did not think it showed the cars to good advantage; in part because it is not large enough and as a result most of the cars really are crammed together.  I also felt that at £12, the entry fee was rather steep.  Lastly the people in charge of the displays chose to fill one of the larger display rooms with a large number of British sports cars - all of which were RED.  I was not impressed with this technique.  Nonetheless, I’ve given the Haynes Museum a reluctant four star rating and do encourage a visit.  Just don’t visit in close proximity to the other two sites I’ve mentioned and try to find a discount coupon first.


Mahy Museum, Leuze-en-Hainaut, Belgium     ★★★★

www.mahymobiles.be/   

We happened upon this fascinating place just wandering along a secondary road in southern Belgium.  This is one of the largest one man collections in the world and is more notable for it’s size and breadth than for the quality of the restorations or presentation.  Here you can see many cars that you’ll probably never see anywhere else.  Note the connection to the Autoworld collection below.



Autoworld, The Belgian National Auto Museum     ★★★★ 

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Brussels, Belgium

www.autoworld.be/    

This is the Belgian National Auto Museum.  It is housed in a historic exhibit hall in Brussels, but the collection was taken directly from the Mahy Museum in 1986.  The loan of 230 of the cream of the Mahy collection to the national museum allows the original collection to remain open and to work slowly toward completing restoration work on the entire collection.  Taken together, this 1,000 car collection represents an astounding accomplishment by one man.


Oulton Park Racing Circuit, Tarporley, Chestershire, England     ★★★★ 

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www.oultonpark.co.uk/

This is one of England’s top racing circuits and the Gold Cup has a long and storied history.  It was once a non-championship Formula 1 event, back when such things existed, but for many years it has been one of the premier Historic Races in the country.  Perhaps not quite of the stature of the Goodwood or Silverstone events, but not at the rarified price point of those events either.  The circuit is beautiful and the fields in the many races were excellent and enthusiastic, as were the many folks in attendance.  The paddock was open all weekend and many clubs were in attendance with lovely cars on display.  An outstanding experience; highly recommended.


Brooklands Museum     ★★★★ 

Weybridge, Surrey, England

www.brooklandsmuseum.com/    

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Brooklands lays claim to being the first purpose built auto racing track in the world, in 1906. It was the hub of British motorsport before WWII and has a ton of history to share.  It exhibits autos, but also motorcycles, bicycles and airplanes, including far more planes than I have shown here.  I only went into the main historic hanger, but other planes are shown out in the open, including a Concorde.  The car displays are excellent if somewhat crowded.  They are exhibited in two historic sheds from when the track was active.  Lighting is kind of hit or miss unfortunately, but the historic atmosphere is very real.  As you can see in the photos, there is excellent informational material on display, and far more than I’ve been able to show as the glare on some of the display cases made photography impossible.  Special emphasis is placed on the great British Land Speed Record attempts made in the ‘20s & ‘30s by men such as Malcolm Campbell and John Cobb.  So, a very worthwhile venue and deserving of a visit.  I spent two hours and could easily have used more.


Jaguar Heritage Museum, Coventry, England     ★★★★ 

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www.jaguar.com/gb/en/experience/visit/jaguar_heritage_museum

This museum is not directly run by Jaguar, but by the Jaguar Heritage Foundation.  The collection is apparently much larger than the space available, so the actual cars on display vary from time to time.  At the time of our visit large numbers of cars were off on loan, so we hope to return.  The attractive display venue is purpose built for the collection, but lighting is difficult for photography.



Mallory Park Racing Circuit, Kirkby Mallory, England     ★★★★ 

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www.mallorypark.co.uk/

This is one of a group of smaller racing circuits dotted across central England.  Not world renowned but with a long history of motor racing.  In 2010 we attended a delightful weekend of low cost, low key historic races sponsored by Morgan and the Jaguar club and had a ball.




Italian National Auto Museum, Turin, Italy     ★★★★

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www.museoauto.it/website/en

Turin is the home of Fiat and qualifies as the Detroit of Italy.  The museum is located in a modern building and has some very interesting display areas, particularly in the realm of providing background images for the cars.  The vehicle collection itself might be considered less than stellar, but the overall experience is quite good and very informative.



Tatra Technical Museum, Koprivnice, Czech Republic     ★★★★

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www.tatramuseum.cz

Tatra is a very interesting manufacturer and this is a most interesting museum.  They made a firm and early commitment to air cooling, rear engine placement, independent suspension and a simple backbone frame structure and stuck to that formula for many decades.  Even their heavy trucks were known for these features (all but the rear mounted engine) and their performance took them to multiple victories in their class at the Paris-Dakar Rally and they were also popular at team support trucks for that event.  The museum features many technically oriented displays and a great gift shop.


Mille Miglia Museum, Brescia, Italy    ★★★★ 

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www.museomillemiglia.it/defaulten.aspx

The Mille Miglia, a thousand mile road race around Italy, was run for many years until being halted after a fatal accident in 1957.  It was organized by the Auto Club of Brescia and this museum pays homage to the great history of the race.  The museum is housed in an old Monastery whose buildings date from the 15th to the 17th century.  The collections appear to consist of vehicles on loan but the presentation and ambience are first rate, including life size blow ups of period photographs on the walls along with posters and detailed information on each race. 


Museu do Caramulo, Caramulo, Portugal     ★★★★

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www.museu-caramulo.net/uk/automoveis.shtml

High in the mountains of northern Portugal, we wound our way up a curving road to Caramulo where we had heard there was a nice museum.  The auto collection is very nice and the display space is excellent.  There are other museums in the complex as well and Caramulo itself is a lovely resort town.  Each September a major classic auto event is hosted here, and in April the museum sponsors a large event in Lisbon as well. 

 

Volkswagen Autostadt, Wolfsburg, Germany     ★★★

www.autostadt.de/

This is Volkswagen’s display facility located at the VW factory.  The Museum is the most interesting aspect of the various display pavilions and by itself would easily deserve a higher rating.  I’ve marked it down based on the rather high cost of visiting Autostadt and the lesser interest of the other displays.  In addition to the museum Autostadt includes pavilions for each of the makes owned by VW; Audi, SEAT, Skoda, Bentley, Lamborghini, and now Porsche.  Factory tours are available with advance reservations.

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Jim Clark Room, Duns, Scotland     ★★★★ 

www.duns.bordernet.co.uk/tourist/attractions/clark.html

Joey Dunlop Memorial Gardens, Ballymoney, Northern Ireland     ★★★★

www.visitballymoney.com/joey-dunlop-memorial-garden.aspx 

These two great racers have each been honored by their home town with small but impressive memorials.  Jim Clark was the finest Grand Prix driver of the 1960s, winner of twenty-five Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500.  He was World Champion in 1963 and 1965, but tragically died in a crash in 1967.  This site contains trophies, driving gear and other memorabilia along with many photographs of Jim and his racing cars

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Joey Dunlop was a motorcycle racer who dominated racing on the Isle of Man for many years, winning the main event 24 times.  He won the TT World Championship five consecutive years in the 1980s.  He was also a great humanitarian and was awarded the MBE for services to sport and the OBE for humanitarian work.  He died in a crash in 2000. 

Both men are remembered not only as racers but as gentlemen.


Coventry Transport Museum, Coventry, England     ★★★

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www.transportmuseum.com/   

This museum is located in downtowm Coventry, once the manufacturing hub of England.  It features a large collection of bicycles and cars along with some motorbikes; all manufactured in or around Coventry.  Information plaques tell the story of the changing fortunes of companies who moved from sewing machines to bicycles to motorcars in an effort to keep pace with a changing world.  Also displayed are segments on the effect of World Wars I and II on the population, the workforce at the many factories and the country in general.  Probably not to be regarded as a top notch motor museum, but nontheless a worthwhile stop.  Admission is free.


Museé-Automobiles-Reims-Champagne, France     ★★★

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www.musee-automobile-reims-champagne.com/   

This museum is located in downtowm Reims, a fifteen minute walk from the cathedral.  I cannot fully recommend a visit unless you have a specific interest in French manufacturers as the collection is not particularly well restored or maintained.  I would say that the cars are regularly dusted, but not much beyond that is done.  The brochure states that the collection is changed from time to time to provide variety, but I would say that means the best cars are loaned to other museums when possible in order to gain some income.  Several of the more interesting cars shown in the brochure were missing at the time of my visit.  The museum is also rather pricey in relation to what is offered and no senior rate is available.


Classic Remise, Berlin, Germany     ★★★

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www.remise.de/   

This is an interesting and very different sort of automotive display.  Not actually a museum at all, this is a collection of cars owned by individuals and by dealers; some being offered for sale, some being stored and others being restored on the site by shops who are there for that purpose.  All of this is housed in an historic late 19th century train maintenance facility.  Admission is not charged, there is a nice restaurant on site, and the whole experience is quite delightful.  Naturally the collection on display will vary at any given time.


   

Spa Francorchamps Racetrack Museum, Stavelot, Belgium    ★★★

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www.abbayedestavelot.be/code/en/muse_02.asp

Spa Francorchamps is a racetrack with a long history and a dangerous reputation due to its high speed layout.  The museum is small, but is housed in an extraordinary old Abby along with other very worthwhile historical exhibits.  It makes for a good excuse to visit the interesting town of Stavelot.




Bentley Wildfowl & Motor Museum, Halland, England    ★★★ 

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www.bentley.org.uk/

We were looking for an official Bentley museum, but we found this one instead.  A private collection located on a lovely, if somewhat rustic, estate; the cars are nice if not exceptional and the grounds and wildfowl are charming and at least as worthy of the visit.  I’ve included a few pictures of the wildfowl just for fun.  Near as we could tell, the Bentley name is incidental.




Museum of the 24 hours of Le Mans, Le Mans, France    ★★★ 

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www.musee24h.sarthe.com/

Located at the Sarthe circuit in Le Mans this museum is disappointingly small and seems to be made up primarily of cars on loan, which means the collection will vary over time.  While it does have some interesting displays, many of the cars on display are touring cars rather than racing cars.  There are some interesting race posters and historic photographs also on display.  Not highly recommended and somewhat disappointing given the long and storied history of the race; still, interesting if you are in the area.



Museo Tazio Nuvolari, Mantua, Italy    ★★★ 

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www.tazionuvolari.it/eng/index.html

Known as the “Flying Mantuan,” Nuvolari was almost certainly the greatest driver of the 20s and 30s; a time when brakes were ineffectual and sliding through the turns was the only way to both steer and slow the car.  Today, this favorite son is remembered by a small but reverent museum in downtown Mantua, a town no traveller should miss.  Stop in to celebrate “The Flying Mantuan” when you’re there. The sense of occasion when visiting this museum far outweighs what little there is to photograph.

 


Conservatoire National de Véhicules Historiques, Diekirch, Luxembourg    ★★★ 

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www.cnvh.lu/en/home

This is a small but very nicely done collection that is indeed the national auto museum of Luxembourg, a similarly small but nicely done country.  Diekirch is a lovely little town that also hosts an excellent military museum.  Both museums and the town are well worth a visit.



Museo Historia Automocion de Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain    ★★★ 

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www.museoautomocion.com/

Salamanca is a lovely old city in western Spain; truly a not to be missed city.  While there, we came across an auto museum that was fairly interesting, with a varied collection.  The city itself is the reason for visiting Salamanca; it is really beautiful.  While there, the auto museum is worthy of your time.



Škoda Museum, Mladá Boleslav, Czech Republic     ★★

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www.museum.skoda-auto.com/

This is the official museum of the Czech Republic’s only surviving manufacturer, which is currently owned by Volkswagen.  The museum is small but nicely done. The primary shortcoming is the lack of meaningful technical or historical information.  Guided tours are given, but mostly in Czech; audio guides are not offered.  The cars on display are attractive but not in show ready condition.  Not recommended for other than Škoda devotees.


 



© Rick Howe 2002 - 2017