Back to Europe Travel Page

 

 

Volkswagen

Autostadt

 

October 2002

 

web logo

The Autostadt logo

 

Located in Wolfsburg, Germany (about 4 hours north of Frankfurt), the Volkswagen Autostadt is a collection of buildings and pavilions featuring the different manufacturers owned by Volkswagen.  These include Volkswagen, Audi,  SEAT (from Spain), Skoda (Czech Republic), Lamborghini (Italy), Bentley and Bugatti (England). The complex also features 6 restaurants, numerous gift shops, a delivery center for those picking up their new VWs at the factory, and a 5-Star Ritz-Carlton Hotel. 

 

 

 

 

 

Autostadt aerial

An aerial view of the Autostadt complex shows the large KonzernForum in the foreground, with the other pavilions behind it.  A footbridge connects everything to the city of Wolfsburg.

 

Web Link for the Autostadt:   www.autostadt.de

Click on the small English flag for the English language website.

 

 

 

web Center 05

The Konzernforum is the starting point for the exploration of Autostadt.  This large, glass-walled building houses the welcome area, several restaurants, a children’s’ area, and the technical exhibit area.

 

 

 

 

web 096 Autostadt lobby globe

The lobby of the Conzernforum features a large suspended globe.

 

 

 

 

web aerial 2

This is an overview of the Autostadt complex.  Visible are the Skoda pavilion (in the foreground, looks like a pie divided into 8 slices), the Audi pavilion (to the left behind Skoda)), the SEAT pavilion (to the right and behind Skoda) and the 2 large round towers housing the new Volkswagens awaiting their new owners. The smokestacks in the background are part of the actual Volkswagen factory.

 

 

 

 

web car towers 06

These two towers are the most predominant features of the park. 

Within each tower is parking for over 400 new Volkswagens awaiting their owners to pick them up at the delivery center (to the right).

 Everything is automated.  The cars are taken up and inserted into their parking spots by automated elevators and conveyors,

then automatically delivered via underground tunnel to the delivery center when their owner arrives. 

 

 

 

 

 

web Kundencenter 04

The Kundencenter (Customer Center) is where people can come to take delivery of their new Volkswagens.

 

 

 

 

 

web Kundencenter 07

Inside the Kundencenter, there is a large showroom of all VW models. 

Here, Spencer is using one of the interactive touch-screen computers to learn more about Volkswagen. 

The screen can display the information in German, English, or several other languages. 

It was nice to be able to look at the newest cars Volkswagen makes, even some not on the market for months to come.

 

 

 

 

web 010 Autostadt deliver center

 In the Kundencenter, new car owners are getting their orientations to their new Volkswagens.  On the average, between 400-500 owners per day pick up their new cars here.

 

 

 

 

 

web globe theatre 16

After looking through the delivery center, we walked next door to the VW pavilion.  Inside, a large globe housed a 360-degree theatre.

Spencer is waiting patiently for the door and walkway to open.  Seated in reclining chairs, we were treated to a surround-movie.

 

 

 

web Autostadt  VW Toureg

After the movie, we were treated to a close-up and personal view of the new VW Touareg SUV.

 It won’t be on sale in Germany until November 2002, and won’t be in the states until 2003. 

Engine choices (for Europe) include a powerful V-6 gasoline engine and a Really-Powerful(!) V-10 Turbo Diesel.

  How powerful?  Think top speed in the 150 mph range! How much?  From $35,000 up to about $60,000.

 

 

 

 

web SEAT 03

Next on our stop was the SEAT (pronounced say-aht), a Spanish subsidiary of VW. 

They basically produce Volkswagens with a Spanish flavor.  They use the same chassis and engines, but are designed slightly differently. 

As you walk up the walkway to the pavilion, castanets automatically play on the speakers.  Like Spain, the pavilion is built on a peninsula.

 

 

 

 

 

web SEAT Mirrors 36

When we were in Versailles, France, we went through the Hall of Mirrors.  Well, the SEAT pavilion has a wall of mirrors outside the entrance door.

 It is composed of 360 rearview mirrors from SEAT cars.

 

 

 

 

web SEAT Ibeza 26

The SEAT Ibeza, with the wildest paint job we saw that day.  Not all SEATs are painted like this.

 Most are pretty average looking (but still sporty!).

 

 

 

 

web 030 Autostadt SEAT and Spencer

Here, Spencer checks out the computer interaction for the SEAT Cupra.

It’s a nice, sporty sedan with VW mechanical parts.

 

 

 

 

 

web SEAT Concept 29

This SEAT concept car was in a rotating glass cylinder (hence the glare). 

It is a cool 2-seater sports coupe which would be a hit in the USA.

 

 

 

 

web Lamborghini and Spencer 111

Over at the Lamborghini pavilion, the $275,000 car is part of a smoke and light show. 

When the car “disappears” during the show, it appears briefly on the outside of the building. 

The large circular platform swings around in about 2-3 seconds to make the car suddenly re-appear inside.

 

 

 

 

web 140 Autostadt museum

My favorite building was the ZeitHaus, which is a museum and technology display. 

 

 

 

 

 

web museum 57

This 4-story building houses some very interesting and historical cars, as you will see.  In the background you can see the first 3 levels of cars.

 The top floor houses the oldest cars, and the newer cars are shown on lower floors. 

The VW Beetle to the right represents one of the first Beetles being unloaded at the docks in America.

 

 

 

 

 

web 088 Autostadt museum

More of the Zeithaus museum.

 

 

 

 

web Benz 1886 39

This 1886 Benz was the world’s first car (sorry, Henry Ford, Karl Benz beat you by several years).

It was powered by a one-cylinder engine and had a top speed of 16 Kilometers per hour (about 10 mph).

 

 

 

 

web Old Collection 42

Next to the 1886 Benz was this interesting collection of old headlights, horns, tool kits, etc.

 

 

 

 

web Hanomag Kommissbrot 38

The 1927 Hanomag 2/10 PS  Kommissbrot”.  It got its nickname because it resembled the loaves of bread given to soldiers.

Powered by a one-cylinder engine, it reached a top speed of about 35 mph. 

It was available as a sports car, station wagon (saloon), delivery van, or even as a small truck.

 

 

 

 

web Cadillac V16 63

This beautiful 1930 Cadillac V-16 really caught my eye.  The Germans seemed to appreciate its beauty and mechanical features.

 It was Cadillac’s first 16-cylinder (7.4 liters or 452 cu. In.) which powered it to over 100 miles per hour. 

 

 

 

 

web Cadillac V16 61

The V-16 Cadillac also featured a rumble seat for the kids.  This was a golfer’s convertible, with

 a separate space for the golf clubs.

 

 

 

 

web 1935 VW 45

This is a replica of a 1936 VW Beetle V3 prototype.  There were three made, but all were destroyed because of fears other companies would steal their design. 

This was just one of 3 designs considered by the original creator of the Beetle, Dr. Ferdinand Porsche.

 The 3 original V3 prototypes were driven over 6,000 miles through rough roads in the Black Forest to prove their durability. With a 23 HP engine, it reached a top speed of 60 mph.

 

 

 

 

web 1935 VW 48

A view of the 1936 VW V3 Prototype from the rear. 

I’m glad they eventually decided to put in a rear window.

 

 

 

 

web Type C 58

Also from 1936 was this Auto Union Type C Grand Prix race car. Powered by a 520 HP, 6-Liter V-12 engine, it won 9 of the 16 races it entered that year.

 Top speed was about 210 mph.  Auto Union later became one of the 4 companies that joined to form Audi (hence the 4 rings in the Audi logo).

 

 

 

 

web 066 Autostadt Auto Union 1936 Type C

The beautiful grille from the Type C in the previous picture.

 

 

 

 

web BMW 328 59

A beautiful late 30’s BMW 328 sedan.  I like it better than the new ones!

 

 

 

 

web VW cutaway 49

Here’s an interesting cutaway view of an old VW Beetle.

It was built using less than ¼ the parts needed for a New Beetle.

 

 

 

 

 

web cutaway VW 101

Compare the cutaway New Beetle to the original in the previous picture.

They’re not as simple, eh?

 

 

 

 

web Lancia 91

How’s this for original, unrestored condition?  This 1951 Lancia Aurelia is displayed as it was found in a barn and is to remain unrestored for posterity.

 The Lancia Aurelia was a technological wonder:  the first production  car in the world with a V-6 engine, semi-trailing arm rear suspension,

and front engine car with the transmission mounted at the rear (like the new Corvette). 

In the Mille Miglia (a 1000-mile cross country race in Europe), the ’51 Aurelia coupe came in second, just behind a Ferrari three times as powerful.

 

 

 

 

web Millionth VW 52

Here’s a piece of history – The 1,000,000th Beetle!  It’s all decked out in glitter chrome and whitewalls.  

Here’s a Quiz – What year did this milestone occur? (see answer below the next picture)

 

 

 

 

web Messerschmitt 56

The 1959 Messerschmitt KR200.  Built by the same company that built German fighter planes in WW II,

this car definitely shows the company’s airplane heritage. (Note the canopy roof). 

The car was designed to motorize war invalids in 1948 by Fritz Fend.  It was called the “Flitzer”, or dart).

 Weighing only 600 lbs., it was also nicknamed “Snow White’s coffin”.  Hmmmm.  It was ½ the cost of a new VW Beetle.

 

 

 

**Answer to quiz on previous picture:  the 1,000,000th Beetle was made in 1955.

 

 

 

 

web Messerschmitt 54

The view from behind the Messerschmitt KR200.  It’s barely 36 inches wide.

 

 

 

web Messerschmitt interior 55

The tandem seating arrangement of the Messerschmitt KR200, just like a fighter plane.

Note the yoke-type steering.  Quite a difference from American cars in 1959!

 

 

 

 

web Fire Van 83

Here’s a scary picture.  A VW Van Fire Truck.  Anyone who has followed a VW Van struggling

to get up a small hill at 30 mph will understand – the fire would be out by the time this one got there.

 Even on level ground with a tailwind, these vans would be hard pressed to reach 75 mph.

 

 

 

 

 

web more than Model T 75

The VW Beetle Model 1302 “World Champion”.  How did it get that name? 

Well, this actual Beetle was the 15,007,034th Beetle off the assembly line. 

Up to that point, the Ford Model T had sold the most cars (15,007,033). 

This made the Beetle the best-selling car of all time.  The year – 1972.

 

 

 

 

 

web John Lennon VW 80

One of the most famous Beetles in the world.  This one belonged to John Lennon and is pictured on the cover of the Beatle’s “Abbey Road” album.

 

 

 

 

web 077 Autostadt Citroen Duck

The 1955 Citroen 2CV “Duck”.  Produced in France until recently, there are many of these all over Europe.

  In a way, they borrowed the styling from the Beetle, but these were front-engine and front-wheel-drive.

 

 

 

 

web 076 Autostadt Citroen Duck hood

The hood ornament on the Citroen Duck. 

 

 

 

 

 

web 086 Autostadt 1959 Cadillac

Even American cars are represented with this 1959 Cadillac Eldorado.

 

 

 

 

 

web 084 Autostadt 1959 Cadillac tailfins

Look at the tailfins on that Eldorado!!  I bet those two tail fins alone weigh more than

one of the Messerschmitt KR200s pictured earlier.

 

 

 

web Bentley Spencer 108

After the Zeithaus museum, we walked over to the Bentley pavilion.  Bentleys are the cars people move up to when they grow out of their Rolls-Royce. 

This particular sedan sells for $275,000 and is usually locked, but the attendant let Spencer sit in it because he was being so careful around the car.

 The steering wheel takes one person 6 hours to hand-stitch the leather covering.

 

 

 

 

web Skoda sculpture 141

In the Skoda pavilion, art from the Czech Republic (Bohemia) reflects the history, culture, and politics of the region and the people. 

These events are depicted with the author’s irony and exaggeration.  This scene depicts the burning at the stake of church reformer Jan Hus in 1415.

He was a rector and preacher at Prague University.  Many think he anticipated Martin Luther’s doctrine by a full century.

 If you look to the scene on the left (to the left of the round tower), you will see Hus on the stake. 

 

 

 

 

web Skoda sculpture 143

A depiction of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni”. Seems like a rowdy audience.

 

 

 

 

 

web 147 Autostadt Skoda sculpture

A more abstract interpretation of progress.  I don’t understand the significance of the Beetle car with

 insect legs being tormented and beaten by the people.

 

 

 

The Skoda pavilion did not really feature any of the cars, but rather emphasized the culture of the Czech people.  The company was founded in 1895 by Vaclav Laurin (a mechanic) and Vaclav Klement (a bookseller). They first produced bicycles, and moved on to manufacture motorcycles in 1899. In 1905, they produced their first automobile, which enjoyed great success.  In the 1920s, they merged with the Skoda Plzen, a strong industrial partner. The new Skoda group manufactured trucks, buses, aircraft engines and agricultural machinery, in addition to automobiles.  Production was interrupted in WWII, when the Nazi regime took control of manufacturing.  However, after the war, Skoda once again began producing cars under Communist control. Though the cars were of older design and quite simple, Skoda had a reputation for very good quality.  After the fall of Communism in 1989, Skoda was absorbed by the Volkswagen Group and began producing cars based on and sharing Volkswagen technology.

 

You can learn more about Skoda at:   www.skoda-auto.com  

If the page is not in English, click on the small British flag. 

 

 

 

web computer sim 124

Back in the Konzernforum, Spencer tried his hand at some of the hands-on computer simulations.

 In this station, you are a simulated air molecule traveling through one of 3 different engines. 

You have to identify the engine by comparing the 3-D images with the actual cutaway engines on display.

 

 

 

 

 

web design 99

Here, Spencer (in the gray sweatshirt with his back to the camera) gets assistance from our tour guide on designing a custom car on the computer simulator.

 After the design is finished, we got a nice printout.

 

 

 

 

 

web Rabbits 139

Walking back to the Volkswagen pavilion, we passed these Volkswagen Rabbits.  Really!

 

 

 

 

 

web sleds 131

At the retail store of the VW pavilion, you could buy lots of cool VW stuff.

Check out these Volkswagen sleds!  Cost - $42.00-50.00 each.

 

 

 

 

 

web Bicycles 130

The most economical Volkswagens made.  Yes, VW makes bicycles.

The mountain bike on the end is $990.00.

 

 

 

 

 

web loading truck 113

Spencer got to try his hand at loading and unloading the truck with the remote controls.

He did a great job!

 

 

 

 

web massage chair 118

After loading the truck, Spencer decided to try out one of the massage chairs.

They utilize the same mechanisms as in the Phaeton seats.

 

 

 

 

 

web restaurant 121

Before we left to go back to the hotel, we had supper in one of the restaurants.  Delicious!

You will never believe what they sell at this restaurant.  Check out the next picture.

 

 

 

 

web Ketchup 120

Would you have believed me?  VW Ketchup!!!  Honest!!!

 

 

 

 

 

web tour bus 137

The next day, we came back to do the VW factory tour.  The only tour with an English-speaking guide was not held until 1:30,

 which was a little late in the day considering we still had a 6 hour drive ahead of us.  So, we took the German tour at 9am.

 Beth understood a lot more than I did, but we still enjoyed the tour.  Sorry, but no photos were allowed once we were on the tour bus.

 

 

 

 

web 094 Autostadt parking lot

When we went to the parking lot to get our car, we found this classic Beetle parked next to us.

 

 

 

Europe-Only Volkswagens

 

web Lupo 13

The VW Lupo, the smallest Volkswagen.  The 3-Cylinder diesel model was recently driven around the world in

80 days by German engineers who averaged 98 miles per gallon for the entire trip.  Not bad!!

 

 

 

 

web 014 Autostadt Lupo

The Lupo interior.

 

 

 

 

 

web Lupo 9

Just because it’s the smallest model doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. 

This is the sporty version of the Lupo.

 

 

 

 

web 008 Autostadt Lupo

This is the view of the sport Lupo most drivers will see as it accelerates past them.

 

 

 

 

 

web Sharon van 134

The Sharon van is really nice.  This model was an All-Wheel-Drive with the

Turbo-Diesel engine and 6-Speed manual transmission.

Top speed – about 125 mph.  Mileage – about 25-30mpg city/ 35-40 mpg highway.

 

 

 

 

web 011 Autostadt VW Phaeton

The Phaeton was featured last month as my Car of the Month on Dad’s Page.

For sale now in Europe (next summer in the USA), it features an optional V-10 Turbo-Diesel engine or a gasoline V-12 engine,

either of which will propel this car to more than 155 mph.  A true competitor for the largest Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7-Series sedans. 

Prices range from $60,000 to $120,000. 

 

 

 

 

web 012 Autostadt VW Phaeton

A view of the VW Phaeton from the rear.

 

 

 

 

Autostadt postcard

Hope you enjoyed your tour of the Autostadt!

 

Back to Travel Page