Most European automotive museums have some recognizable name attached to them. Brands like Lamborghini, Mercedes, Ferrari, even Pagani have wonderful museums and tours, and I’ve brought you coverage of all of them here on Oversteer. But, on an afternoon drive between Heidelberg and Stuttgart, I came across an amazing gem of a place that I just wasn’t expecting. I can’t recall seeing a Concorde and a Ferrari F40 in the same place, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s the Auto & Technik Museum Sinsheim.
Opened in 1981, this is the largest privately owned museum in Europe, and it features some amazing numbers. Not only do they have an Air France Concorde and a Tupolev Tu-144, the Concorde’s Russian competitor, but you can walk through them! More on that in a bit, but the stats of this place just boggle the mind. Want to see the largest permanent Formula One collection in Europe? It’s here, as are 300 vintage cars, 40 more race cars, 200 motorcycles, 27 locomotives, 50 aircraft and 150 tractors. Not to mention dozens of military vehicles and weaponry from various countries around the world. It’s like nothing I’ve ever come across.
And I came across it totally by accident. On the same trip that I stopped in all of the brilliant museums that I linked to above, we were just driving through the German countryside and happened across this magical place. You can’t miss it; both supersonic passenger planes are mounted to the roof, as are a bunch of other aircraft. I had no clue how car-crazy it was until we pulled in. The Huracan driver next to me was pretty impressed, as well.
In 1970, a fellow by the name of Gary Gabelich achieved the world land speed record on Bonneville Salt Flats by setting a flying mile speed of 622.407 mph. That vehicle was built in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and was called the Blue Flame and I was infatuated with it as a kid. That record stayed on the books until Richard Noble beat it
driving piloting the turbojet-powered Thrust2 some 12 years later. Want to see it in person? Head to Sinsheim, its on permanent display there.
Want to see awesome sports cars? How about the De Tomaso Pantera GTS, Ferraris like the 342 America, F40 and the Testarossa, the Jaguar D-Type and E-Type, Lamborghinis like the Countach LP 500 S, Diablo VT Roadster and Miura P 400 S, the beautiful Mercedes-Benz 300 SL and a Vector W8? Well, that’s just one aisle of cars on display at Sinsheim. It’s ridiculous. There’s a also surreal American Dream Cars section with all kind of cool classics, complete with humorous Americana props next to them.
You like F1? As I mentioned, they have the largest permanent display in Europe, with the Hildegas Indy Special, Zakspeed F1, Tyrrell P34, Jordan 191, Benetton-Renault B195 and McLaren MP4 as a few examples. There’s a whole different section with other historic race cars. If you follow motorsports, you’ll find something you like.
By far the highlight of the visit was climbing up 30 meters of stairway to get access to the Air France Concorde F-BVFB and its once-competitor, the Russian Tupolev TU-144. Those of us not old enough to have experienced supersonic passenger flights across the Atlantic now have to experience them though visiting a museum. Lots of museums have Concordes, but Sinsheim delivers a completely different experience: both planes are mounted on three steel pillars so they look like they’re taking off, and the stairway provides full access up into the amazing planes.
Walking up the angled display is slightly terrifying, as both planes bounce and shake a bit from visitors shifting weight. It’s startling how narrow the planes were, and there are some remnants set up to show what air travel was like back in the 1970s up through the Concorde’s last flight in 2003. It was an amazing machine, setting records such as JFK to Heathrow in just 2 hours, 52 minutes, 59 seconds from take-off to touchdown and New York City to Seattle in just 3 hours, 55 minutes, and 12 seconds. Unreal. The TU-144 has a pretty amazing record of breaking down, but it was still really cool to see in person.
Suffice to say, there is literally something for everyone at Sinsheim. If you find yourself in this part of Germany, make time to visit. General admission is only eight Euros, so you have no excuse! There’s also a full IMAX theater if you decide you want to spend the entire day there, but you’ll want to budget most of it just to see the cars on display. Find a classic car for sale
Based in Northern Virginia, William is professional writer and editor and acts as the Editor-in-Chief of Right Foot Down. He misspent most of his youth on tracks in the Mid-Atlantic, as well as killing cones in parking lots, and he once taught at a teen performance driving school.