Wolfsburg in northern Germany has already firmly staked its claim in the hearts of car lovers as the home of Volkswagen. Since 2000, however, the city that lies just over 200km west of Berlin has been drawing more than 2 million visitors a year to its celebration of the history, technology, design and the sheer thrill of the car at Volkswagen’s 25-hectare Autostadt (or ‘Car City’) tourist park.
Like the cars themselves the site is beautifully designed with striking architectural features and stimulating attractions that nestle amongst sculpted hills and shimmering lakes. Visitors are treated to insights into the latest developments in car design, technology and given fun demonstrations of how the car has shaped and changed our lives. Interactive exhibits allow you to design your own car, although there is, unfortunately, no guarantee that it will ever roll off the assembly lines of the adjacent VW factory.
Car enthusiasts will be awed by the Zeithaus museum where more than 50 brands are on display representing all the major milestones in the history of the car. These include the first ever car that was powered by petrol, the legendary first Beetle (designed by Ferdinand Porsche no less) and masterworks of decadent luxury such as the 1934 Audi with a mother-of-pearl dashboard.
Outside the main buildings each VW brand has its own idiosyncratically designed ‘pavilion’ to snoop around. Bentley’s showcases classic cars and includes many sleek Bugattis alongside the Bentley Speed 8 that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 2003. Lamborghini opts for a thrilling sound and light show, Audi provides a captivating multimedia display and SKODA mixes its cars with dazzling displays of Bohemian crystal.
Of course what every car lover young and old wants to do is to drive and there are plenty of opportunities for this. Visitors can take the off-road Volkswagen Touareg round a thrilling track with a guide to help them through obstacles which include:
a 21 degree angled hill,
a splash-fest of a water tank
a treacherous sand pit surprisingly located directly under a road bridge,
a bumpy-ride guaranteed log road,
numerous small mounds which lift the car’s wheels off the ground,
and, finally, a flight of stairs to climb and descend.
For younger driving enthusiasts there is the opportunity for children to navigate mini electric VW Beetles around a carefully designed track.
On top of all this there are restaurants, cafes and bars where you can fill your tanks up at and idyllic rest points should your engines become overheated. There’s even the chance to tour the car factory itself and see new cars fresh from the production line being delivered to their futuristic storage silos. Great art displays and serene walks through the park are also available for a refreshing break from the cars.
Autostadt is a car lover’s paradise that offers something for everyone in the family. Set your Satnav for 38440 Wolfsburg and enjoy the ride!
About the author
Matthew Fidge works for WLMG (www.wlmg.co.uk), a West London car dealerships, but likes to travel out of London to see beautiful cars all over the world.
What were the WOW moments you experienced?
The entire place is a fantasyland for car buffs!
Germany, Wolfsburg, Autostadt