Four weeks in Germany

Posted on January 20th, 2014 in automotive history,AutoSpeed,BMW,classics,Driving Emotion,Opinion by Julian Edgar

So as I write this, I am just back from our four-week trip to Germany.

It was a trip made with the express intention of seeing as many fabulous technical, automotive and aeronautical sights as possible, and also seeing as many 1930s and 1940s historic sites as possible!

The trip was fascinating – and often rather surprising.

The revered Porsche museum is a self-indulgent wank, with history airbrushed and obfuscated to suit only Porsche and its created mystique.

The BMW museum is in the same mould: brush any commercial difficulties aside (the unsuccessful ETA engines? Never heard of them!) and just plonk cars into a space with almost zero context.

The Mercedes museum? Oh my gosh – what a stunner. Fabulous cars, lots of honesty, and lots of and lots of automotive history expressed in a cultural and technological context. The Mercedes museum is surely one of the best one-make car museums in the world – and boy, do they ever show BMW and Porsche how it should be done.

Another fantastic place to visit is the Sinsheim technic museum. It’s got cars (try some stuff like a Cord, lots of Bugattis, lots and lots of 1930s Mercedes, 1950s bubble cars, American cars of the 1960s – and on and on) and some aircraft (try a Concorde and Soviet-era Tupolev Tu-144) – and also  a whole bunch of military hardware.

Travelling as we did in winter, there’s barely a soul to be seen – so you can take your time, completely unhindered by others. It was so quiet that when looking at the outside military hardware at the Sinsheim museum, a friendly stray cat came up to visit!

Another absolute stunner is the Deutsches technical museum in Munich. I thought that the Science Museum we visited in London last year was good but the Deutsches is in another – even better – league. I defy anyone reading this to get through the content of the Deutsches technical museum in less than a full day. From the pile of Mercedes alloy V12 engine blocks in the section on metal casting, to the aeronautical display showing early aircraft wing sections as they were measured in contemporary wind tunnels, to the display on locks and keys, to the room full of machine tools of the 1800s and 1900s, to the full size stationary steam engines, the cutaway submarine (yep a real one) – it just went on and on and on.

And then when you’ve overloaded there, go to the specialised transport Deutsches museum, also in Munich….. that is also outstanding.

But we didn’t just go to museums. Going with my wife and 9-year-old son, we also visited the Lego Discovery centre in Berlin (pretty weak I thought), the Miniature Wonderland in Hamburg (the world’s largest model railway and quite fantastic), lots and lots of shops, went for  ferry ride on Lake Constance in the south – and also stayed at Zinnowitz on the Baltic Sea in the north.

Then there were the incredibly sobering Nazi-era concentration camps at Dachau and Mittelbau-Dora, the amazing architecture and feel of the Nuremberg Nazi party rally grounds – and a bunch of other stuff.

I’ll be covering a lot of it – with a huge number of pics – in a Germany Diary series we’ll be shortly running in AutoSpeed.

6 Responses to 'Four weeks in Germany'

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  1. Tom said,

    on January 20th, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    Looking forward to it, Julian!

  2. DAVID Z said,

    on January 24th, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    ALWAYS like your trip reports
    Wish you did car tests again!

  3. John said,

    on January 25th, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Bring back car tests and auto modifying related articles like Autospeed used to be! These blog styles posts are not really related.

  4. Julian Edgar said,

    on January 26th, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Auto modifying articles like these?

    – Making your own bellmouths
    – Building your own airbox
    – Measuring the stiffness of fabrications
    – Measuring suspension rates
    – Modifying ECU sensor inputs
    – Fitting a 12V monitoring LED
    – Low cost voltage switch to trigger from car sensors

    That’s just new content in the last ten issues – seems to me to be plenty on modifying cars there, John.

  5. John said,

    on February 1st, 2014 at 9:05 am

    A lot of the articles seem to be rehashes from 2005, 2008, etc when that was all that was done. Now it seems more blog-like about your expensive holidays, etc you seem to do. Either this is a modifying car website or it isn’t. Choose one and stick with it! You have already lost a lot of dedicated readers because of your lack of focus on what this website began as (and what I originally began reading it for). A shame really…

  6. Julian Edgar said,

    on February 2nd, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    John, each fortnightly issue we ‘reprint’ two articles from an earlier issue. Each issue we have a new article, and every two issues we have two new articles. Therefore, each month there are four repeat articles and three new articles.

    That’s been the case for the last 6 years – no change in the re-use of older material has occurred in that time.

    Since the very first issue of AutoSpeed, some 15 years ago, I have written in AutoSpeed about what I am doing – whether that’s modifying a hybrid car, designing and building recumbent pedal trikes, building an electric bike – or modifying turbo boost systems, car electronics, etc.

    I am continuing to take that approach, so if I go on a holiday and see lots of things that I think will interest many readers, I’ll cover that.

    As I said in a previous blog, I expect this year to also cover turbocharging a car, fitting programmable management and fitting a programmable dashboard. I hope also to get around to fitting new batteries and a new electric motor control system to the hybrid… but I’ll have to see how I go.

    Also note that, again for many years, our tagline has been: “technology, efficiency, performance”… which certainly does not limit us to being a “modifying car website”.

    If what is being done does not suit your taste, perhaps it’s time to stop reading AutoSpeed. I am always genuinely regretful when someone chooses to do that, but it is better to not be working under false pretences – the approach that we are taking now is very likely to remain in place indefinitely.

    It suits me as the major content generator, it suits the website’s owner and publisher, and with over 100,000 regular readers, it appears to also suit many others.