Prototyp Car Museum

Apr 18, 2014 · 328 words · 2 minute read

The Prototyp Car Museum smells, as it should, of petrol. If it didn’t I suppose they’d have to add the smell afterwards in the way supermarkets bake bread on site to make you hungrier. It’s not a large place, two floors of cars plus an exhibition in the basement about the 1950s racing driver Wolfgang von Trips , but nicely curated and laid out.

Ludwig Zündapp F3 (1948)

The exhibitions focus is on post-war racing, starting with cycle racers; small cars built with motorcycle engines, and then moving into the bigger leagues. Most of the hoods are shut, keeping the outlines of the cars smooth and intact, emphasising the speed evoked by the shape.

In only a few cases are the insides revealed and the fragile nature of the cars, and by association their drivers, made clear. Even in the most modern examples I was amazed how basic the seats and controls looked. Often just a few rods or wires and then a hard bucket seat with a harness barely squeezed in between tight carbon fibre curves. The relatively recent Michael Schumacher 1991 Jordon F1 191 and the 1998 Audi R8R LMP Prototype are still basic in the extreme when it comes to driver comfort.

Porsche 911 2.0 Rallye (1965)

There is talk of the technology and innovation that has gone into the evolution of the cars shown, something you can see most clearly in the temporary Porsche exhibition where the steps are side by side, but the spotlight is reserved for what car and driver can do, and why they do it; less the how.

Since I’m not much of a car enthusiast I did’t find the details of how much horsepower was added at each step and the exact genealogy of each car type that interesting. I found it much more exciting as a sculpture display of speed and obsession, each car a particular incarnation of that desire, a display of the need to go faster.