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Museums Private Collections

Porsche Fahrtraum: the private collection of the Porsche Family is the best-kept secret car museum

Last summer, I discovered one of the best-kept secret of Austria, the private collection of the Porsche family. The Collection is run by Ernst Piech, the eldest grandson of Ferdinand Porsche. Although my visit took place last year, the 70th Anniversary of the Porsche car company provides an excellent opportunity to recall the experience. The Museum is quite well hidden, located in Mattsee near the city of Salzburg, in a cozy corner of the lake (their website is quite informative). The surrounding area of Salzburg offers lots of attractions, starting with the unbeatable combination of the famous Hallstatt/Salzwelten/Dachstein trio or the trip to Königsee. For car geeks, the private vault of Mr. Mateschitz, with his pride and achievements encompassing aircraft and race cars with its ultramodern Hangar 7 strikes a stark contrast to the simple Porsche building hiding smoothly in the picturesque lakeside landscape.

 In principle, such private collections should not be measured to factory museums of prominent manufacturers (such as the Porsche Museum Stuttgart), but Fahrtraum and Hangar 7 can hold their own.

One of the first attraction to greet visitors when entering the first chamber is a Porsche Lohner Mixte, a plug-in hybrid electric car conceived way before it was cool. The car was the first assignment of the only 25 years young Ferdinand Porsche, commissioned by the Monarchy’s prime coachbuilder Lohner-Werke, and was among the first electro-petrol hybrid cars, hundred years before Toyota… Next to the Lohner, a Tractor simulator awaits wealthy visitors. This is not a PlayStation-based solution, but a real Porsche Diesel Tractor on a dynamometer. As this requires permanent supervision, one has to pay a reasonable fee for the ward who operates the machine.

Beyond the Lohner hybrid, the main hall hosts a set of truly impressive oldtimers from the pre-WW II era. The cars also notice the approaching visitors and greet them with realistic engine sound from the speakers. This might not be the real thing, but it does make an excellent impression, and many will not miss the adverse side effects of an early 20th-century engine actually running, and the next paragraph might explain why.

Fahrtraum is a true paradise for families. I counted more educational and interactive elements than in Zuffenhausen, beyond education there is lots of sheer fun. The organisers installed a realistic oldtimer-simulator cabin, which offers realistic controls (pedals, gauges and gear shift levers). Its quite a challenge to drive uphill in the simulator, with a car that won’t make it up in second gear. The simulator is not as forgiving as the modern ones: ear screeching rattling accompanies every shift with imperfect clutch handling. In addition, the Museum offers half a dozen simulators, some 4-5 triple-screen simulators are awaiting kids of the younger generations but the gyroscopic triple-screen simulator definitely steals the show (yet requires a strict age limit of 16), even if there is another oldtimer that integrated a PS3 trying hard to attract attention.

For those youngsters seeking the real thing, there is a Carrera race track with cars that you can borrow for a small deposit, as well as a little town with trolleys. For the younglings immune to the car mania, there is creativity corner. Essentially the museum does its best to offer games for children from 2 year to 99. Fahtraum is probably the most child-friendly museum of the dozen Museums that I visited.

Now that we found something for children of all ages, it is time for the daddies to attend to attractions. This floor still holds two other rooms, one hosts legends such as the stars of many WW II movies, the VW Typ 82 “Kübelwagen” and its innovative amphibious comrade, the VW Typ 166 “Schwimmwagen”. We can also admire some long-lost brands, for example the impressive coupé of Austro-Daimler.

In the other room about a dozen interesting 30’s oldtimers were parked.  In one end, the restoration centre showcases the current projects (including a bare chassis) in the other, we can see the office of Ferdinand Porsche, with memorabilia and original office furniture. It strikes an interesting contrast to the Toyota corner in the Louwman (with the oldest Toyota and the desk of Mr. Toyoda, as a sign of the Company’s gratitude).

The final punch line is delivered in the basement, in the form of a Tractor-exhibition, which gives enough ammo to make jokes about the term Porsche Diesel for the next decade or so. For those unfamiliar with the brand, the tractor factory started its production in the 50’s at a factory near the Bodensee under the Porsche Diesel brand, using the designs of Ferdinand Porsche for a People’s Tractor (Volksschlepper). There is also a wide range of other brands downstairs, my favorite the futuristic yellow Algauer, even if I wonder what competitive advantage the airflow slug would bring to the owner.

I was positively surprised by the Fahrtraum Museum. It was much larger, better and, above all, more interactive (and thus more family friendly) than I had expected. The Porsche Factory Museum is by far bigger and more professional, while even the steam car section is of the Lowman Museum can enumerate more vehicles than the entire Fahrtraum. However, the sole purpose of the Dutch museum is to make us admire Mr. Louwman’s one of a kind collection, Ferdinand Porsche’s legacy offers a lot of fun to our inner child.

 

UPDATE!

There is a new article on Fahrtraum summarising the latest impressions stemming from my last visit in mid-August.

A non-partisan yet active car-maniac.