125th Anniversary of the Motor Car
In 1861 Carl Benz officially applied to patent a three-wheeled cart with a petrol engine he had developed. He was from Ladenburg near Mannheim in the state of Baden-Württemberg, which is why this region is regarded as the cradle of the motor car.
Not only are German cars internationally acclaimed for their top quality and innovation, Germany is also the country where the first cars were developed exactly 125 years ago.
But throughout the whole of Germany there are many opportunities to learn more the motor car, for instance in some of the museums and visitor centers, at classic car rallies and numerous motor sports events.
"Building the future on tradition" – the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart is more than just a home for 125 years of automotive history. The building housing the museum is an exceptional piece of architecture: a double helix inside the museum, based on human DNA, symbolises the 'genetic makeup' of the brand. There are two tours available. The first takes in seven 'Legend rooms' that tell the history of the Mercedes brand, from car production pioneers to motor racing icons. The second tour consists of five separate 'Collection rooms' that showcase the diversity of the Mercedes brand from passenger cars to heavy goods vehicles. There are more than 1,450 individual exhibits, including 160 vehicles, many of them epoch-making, such as the Gullwing from the 1950s and the Silver Arrows.
BMW Welt and Museum
A combined venue for new car handovers, interactive museum exhibitions and events, BMW Welt is in a class of its own. The neighbouring BMW Museum provides an insight into the history of the company stretching back more than 90 years. Housed in a spectacular complex of buildings, BMW Welt is designed to be experienced with all five senses. The BMW Welt plaza is a car enthusiast's dream: an exhibition of motor cars, currently more than 120 meters in length, features a wide variety of models from the BMW product range. The BMW Museum, right beside BMW Welt, covers more than 90 years of BMW history.
The extraordinary architecture of the Porsche Museum is almost as impressive as the cars inside. Around 80 vehicles and numerous smaller exhibits are on display. For fans of these iconic sports cars, a visit to the Porsche museum is an unforgettable experience, an essential part of any visit to Stuttgart. Classic cars such as the 356, 550, 911 and 917 are on display, as well as a tribute to some of Professor Ferdinand Porsche's pioneering accomplishments from the early part of the 20th century, including the original Beetle. Another highlight is the famous Pink Pig racing car that took part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in 1971.
Wolfsburg is the home of Volkswagen Group. Set in more than 25 hectares of parkland, a mixture of stunning architecture, design and nature provides the framework for a wide range of attractions. Exhibitions feature classic cars through the ages and focus on what made them so groundbreaking at the time. Works of art and short films offer new perspectives on the automobile, while interactive research installations provide hands-on experiences.
"Transparent factory" Dresden
Discover hidden processes: watch a Phaeton being created at VW's "transparent factory" in Dresden. The glass structure of the "transparent factory" allows you to witness the fascinating process of car production. With its glass tower, almost 40m high and visible from afar, containing the finished cars awaiting collection, the 'transparent factory' has quickly established itself as one of Dresden's top attractions.The 'transparent factory' has also established a reputation as a cultural center, hosting a wide range of events from classical music and pop to art exhibitions.
The Thrill of Speed
Germany is home to motor-racing champions such as Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel and its world-class racing circuits host thrilling races. There are motor sports venues for speed junkies and avid racing fans. The race circuits stage a wide variety of exciting events from Formula 1 to the Motorcycle Grand Prix.
You can get behind the wheel yourself and race around one of the famous circuits. Or maybe you prefer to be driven around the track by a professional racing driver?
Hockenheimring is the home of international motor sport: Formula One racing and the German Touring Car Masters (DTM). Other exciting events at Hockenheim include Nitrolympx dragster duels, the International German Motorbike Championships (IDM) and the sport auto Tuner Grand Prix or the Drift Challenge. Classic car races like the Hockenheim Historic – In Memory of Jim Clark and the Hockenheim Classic set the hearts of vintage car lovers racing. The historic racecourse is also the stage for open-air concerts. The 4.574 kilometer Grand Prix circuit is also a venue for driving safety courses, test drives by the automotive industry, product launches and a range of high-quality driving experiences throughout the year.
The Nürburgring in the Eifel region is one of the most beautiful circuits in the world. A legend, one of the longest, busiest and most challenging racetracks in the world with a rich history and tradition, it hosts a range of music and sporting events, but the main attraction is always motor racing. Both amateur and professional drivers from a wide range of racing classes compete here with their vehicles on two tracks, the historic north circuit opened in 1927 which measures 20.832 kilometers and the modern 5.148 kilometer Grand Prix circuit. Driving your own car across the legendary track has become an established tradition at the Nürburgring. A range of driving packages are available, such as the BMW 'Ring taxi' and rides in the passenger seat of a Nissan GTR, where you can see the Nürburgring from a new, action-packed perspective at the side of an experienced racing driver.