May 17th – Car Paradise

Day 13:

I apologize in advance for all of the car photos. There were amazing ones that I had to include, and so many more amazing ones that there wasn’t room for.

The day started early as Frank and I needed to catch our train to Stuttgart at 7:05am. It was a little stressful trying to figure out the transportation situation, but we were able to ask some of the Germans that we were working with at the University of Augsburg (Sonja) for some help, which made it a lot easier. I slept for almost the entire ride, and we arrived in Stuttgart around 8:45.

The ICE train that we rode from Augsburg to Stuttgart, pictured here at the Stuttgart main station.

From there, we walked to the subway system they had in Stuttgart, the S-Bahn. Both Porsche and Mercedes-Benz were located in Zone 1 so all we needed to do to ride was buy a $5 all-day pass and we were able to ride wherever we wanted to as long as it was in Zone 1. We hopped on the S-Bahn to Porsche, and rode to the Porscheplatz, the train stop right at the Porsche museum. When we arrived, right away I was in awe of not only the museum and the surrounding facilities, but also the sheer amount of Porsches in my field of view. It was amazing.

The massive Porsche Museum to the left, which opened in 2009.
The Porsche 911 sculpture standing 82 feet tall and featuring 3 full-size 911’s, one at each point.
To the right, the Porsche showroom.
A row of brand new 911’s in front of the Porsche Museum (992 generation).

From there we were able to make our way into the museum. As students, it cost only 4 Euro to get in, which in my opinion was the deal of the century. We rode the escalator up through the crazy architecture of the building to get to the main museum and were immediately greeted with some amazing cars.

The 1964 Porsche 904 Carrera GTS with a state of the art (at the time) fibre-glass reinforced plastic body, co-designed with an aircraft manufacturing company. You can also see two of the first generation 911’s (912 generation), introduced in 1964.

The previous three pictures were variants of the Porsche 917 race car, of which there was a special exhibit of at the museum. The first is the 917 short-tail in the Gulf livery, a car that was much faster in the corners than it was in the straights, with a top speed of 220 mph. The second is the 917 long tail in the Martini livery, which was specifically built for the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1970, with a top speed of 240 mph. The long tail never won Le Mans, but was instead defeated by the 917 short tail. The third picture is of the “Pink Pig” named for its color and its livery, depicting sections of the car divvied up much the same way that you would see in a butcher’s diagram (Rüssen, which is written on the front section of the car, means “trunk” in German). The Pink Pig was a 917 that was designed to combine the advantages of both the long tail and short tail models, and showed a lot of promise, but unfortunately never finished the Le Mans due to an accident.

A row of Porsche 911 GT3 race cars on rotating platforms, with the modern rendition of the “Pink Pig” front and center. This car still has the rubber and grit on its bumper from the racetrack.
The 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR Turbo 2.1. The body is made completely of plastic to save weight.

Throughout the museum, as Frank and I rounded corners, we frequently saw the cars ahead of the ones that were right in front of us. A lot of times we needed to control ourselves and focus on the ones in front of us before jumping ahead to see the amazing cars ahead of us. For me, the Porsche 959 was one of the cars that I saw in the distance and could barely contain my excitement.

Just looking at it, it doesn’t look like its all that special or different from most Porsche models of the era, but it is an extremely important car. The Porsche 959 was produced from 1986-1988, and was state of the art at the time. When it was released, it was the fastest road-legal car with a top speed of 195 mph. It was also the one of the first high-performance vehicles with all-wheel-drive, helping it achieve a 0-60 time of 3.6 seconds, which was unheard of at the time. It is powered by a twin turbocharged six cylinder boxer engine, which again, was state of art. This car was in league of its own, and helped define what a supercar was. It sold for $300,000 in 1988 ($650,000 today), and well-kept ones will sell at auctions for $1.5 million.

Moving on from the 959 were more amazing cars, like the Carrera GT and the 911 GT1.

The Porsche Carrera GT, sold from 2003-2007. It is known as one of the last true sports cars, before modern technology played such a huge role in a car’s features and performance. It is powered by a 5.7 liter naturally aspirated V10 producing 600 horsepower, coupled to a six-speed manual. It sells today for around $750,000.
The 1998 Porsche 911 GT1 with a revolutionary carbon fiber chassis, which helped Porsche win the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1998. There was also a street version of this car built (called the 911 GT1 Straßenversion, models of which have sold for north of $5 million at auction.

Another amazing car that piqued my interest was this Porsche 919:

This specific car is the 919 tribute, which is a representation of what the Porsche engineers would have done if they were not limited by the rules and regulations of standard track driving. This 919 has been modified from the Le Mans legal 919 by removing headlights, increasing fuel flow (a necessary regulation), and adding more power from the hybrid system. What that means is that this car is now the fastest car in the world around the Nürburgring, a relentless 16 mile track that the 919 lapped in just 5 minutes, 19.55 seconds.
This is a video I found that gets into more details about the 919 Tribute and its differences from the 919 Le Mans car:

From there, we went on to the showroom across from the museum. There, parked outside, we saw what was our second Porsche 918 of the day, which was incredible.

The 918 is one of my dream cars. It was sold from 2013 to 2015, and 918 units were produced. It came out at the same time as the Ferrari LaFerrari and The McLaren P1, and the three together were known as the “Hypercar Holy Trinity”. The 918 is the quickest of the three (arguably), and has always been my favorite. It is powered by a V8 coupled to a dual-motor hybrid system producing a total of 887 horsepower. Although Porsche reported a 0-60 mph time of 2.6 seconds, independent testers such as Car and Driver have clocked it at 2.2 seconds, which is absolutely insane. One of the most distinctive features of the 918 is its top-mounted exhaust and see-through engine cover, which you can see in the last photo of it. I came to Porsche with the hope of seeing just on of these cars, and at the end of the day, we ended up seeing three different 918’s. You can find them on sale today for about $1.5 million.

From there Frank and I made our way through the showroom, where we saw aisles upon aisles of new Porsches (all were locked unfortunately), as well as three more Carrera GT’s and one more 918. I could add hundreds more pictures of Porsches here, but I haven’t even started on the Mercedes-Benz Museum, which Frank and I made our way to after the showroom.

We caught the S-Bahn back to the main station, where we grabbed some food and then transferred to a train that would take us close to the Mercedes-Benz Museum. Unlike the Porsche Museum, there wasn’t a stop directly next to the museum, so we needed to walk for a little bit once we arrived. Once we did arrive, just like at the Porsche museum. All you could see were Mercedes. It felt like every car we saw driving on the street was a Mercedes. The area that the museum and showroom was on was also massive, and much more open and pedestrian friendly than the Porsche Museum.

The Mercedes-Benz Musuem right in the center, with the showroom in the distance off to the right. If you look closely at the main entrance of the museum, there is a box truck that was setting up lights and a red carpet for a special event. I am pretty sure this was for the official announcement of sale for Mercedes’ new electric SUV, the EQC.
The Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, a joint venture between Mercedes and McLaren, greeted us in the lobby of the Museum.

Once we paid and were admitted to the museum, we rode and elevator up to the top level, where we would make our way down through the different exhibits. We started with the older vehicles, such as a remake of the very first car ever made, as well as the oldest Mercedes-Benz still in existence, which were really cool to see, but didn’t interest me as much as what came later.

The oldest Mercedes-Benz in existence.
The 1936 Mercedes-Benz 500K, which was produced from 1936 until 1939 in Germany, and was the car of “the rich and beautiful”, or in other words, the high ranking Nazis of the time. A model a lot like this exact car (it may have been this exact car but I’m not sure) sold at auction for more than $11 million.

As we made our way down through the museum, the cars that we saw became newer and newer. Most of the way down we took giant spiral ramps with the events of the time periods along the walls, which helped put each generation of vehicle that we were seeing into perspective. Some things that were really impressive that we saw were some of the larger vehicles that we saw along the way. They even had a full-size coach bus exactly like the ones we had been taking on our trips! (I still have no idea how they got the larger vehicles into the museum).

A Mercedes-Benz car carrier, carrying period-correct Mercedes-Benz cars. You can see to the left an old mail-carrier, and to the right in the distance and old Shell fuel truck.
1980 Mercedes-Benz 230 G “Popemobile” built for Pope John Paul II. To the left you can see a portion of Princess Diana’s 500 SL, which is just a standard 500 SL.
The architecture of the museum itself was amazing. This is a staircase that was off to the side that we took to see more of the larger commercial vehicles.
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL with its iconic Gullwing doors flung open. This is one of the most famous and most iconic Mercedes-Benz ever. The Gullwing doors were necessary at the time because of a new tub-like frame that improved the car’s stiffness in the corners, but cut into the doorway (you can see the high door sills), making the entrance into the vehicle too small for traditional doors to be practical.

One car that I saw that didn’t resonate with me until afterwards was the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR. Throughout the museum, there were mentions of a hiatus from Motorsports that Mercedes took from 1955 to 1989, but there was never a reason given. The hiatus was due to the June 11th 1955 disaster at Le Mans, where a race-modified speedster (no roof) version of the 300 SLR, driven by Pierre Levegh, rear-ended an Austin-Healey driven by Lance Macklin, which sent the Mercedes flying up into the air and into pieces. From there, the engine block separated from the vehicle as it disintegrated, and the block flew into the crowd at high speed, tearing through them. The exact number of people killed vary, but it is thought to be a total of 80 deaths, as well as more than 120 injured. It is the single most catastrophic Motorsports accident in history, and was not mentioned at all in the museum.

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR.

Moving on further down into the museum, we found some of the most famous race cars to ever drive on tracks.

The display of former Mercedes-Benz race cars they had on display
The previous generation of Mercedes-Benz’ Formula One car. This car (#6) was driven by Nico Rosberg.
Mercedes-Benz W 196 2.5-liter Formula One car. One of the vehicles that nicknamed the Mercedes racer’s the Silver Arrows.

The race cars finished up the museum portion of the Mercedes trip, and from there we made our way to the showroom, which was immense. It consisted of three stories, all filled with different new models.

The first floor of the showroom. You can see the stairs to the second floor, and can just barely make out the third floor.
The Mercedes AMG GT C Roadster, which was on the second level with a lot of other AMG cars.
My personal favorite of the showroom, the Mercedes-Benz AMG E63 S Wagon. This wagon produces 603 horsepower from a twin-turbocharged V8, and has a 0-60 mph time of 3.4 seconds. Its base price is $108,000.
An AMG GT parked next to the rare G-Class Cabriolet. The G wagon is most likely a 2013 model because of the LED strips underneath the headlights.

After the showroom, it was time to catch the train back to Augsburg. Unfortunately for us, the ICE train back would have been double the price it took us to get to Stuttgart, so we decided to ride the cheaper, but slower, train back to Augsburg. Compared with Audi’s museum, both Mercedes and Porsche blew it completely out of the water. Audi just didn’t have the same depth and presentation as the other museums.

When it comes to the Porsche and Mercedes museums, I personally liked the Porsche museum more because the focus was less on the history of Porsche and more on the cars themselves. Mercedes-Benz has a lot of history, and they walked you through every year of it. Porsche has a lot of history too (not nearly as much as Mercedes), but they were more focused on the history of each individual car.

For most of the train ride back, I worked on blogs. That night was spent packing and getting everything ready for the plane back to the United States the next morning.

Takeaway of the Day: I chose the right major.
After today and seeing how excited it all made me I am sure I am going into the right field with Mechanical Engineering as my major. The thought of actually being able work on one of these automobiles and contribute to its production is so exciting, and I am so excited to see what my future holds for me.

Car of the Day: Porsche 918

It really was impossible to choose, but if I had to, I would have to go with the Porsche 918. I had never been so excited to see a car in my life. I never thought I would see one, and seeing three in one day was amazing.

Runner Up: n/a
There were so many amazing cars today that I couldn’t bring myself to choose one, two, or even just three runner ups. Every other car that I saw today would have been “Car of the Day” if I had seen it any other day, so every car that I saw today gets Runner Up.

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