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.
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.
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.
The lobby of the Conzernforum features a large suspended globe.
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.
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.
The Kundencenter (Customer Center) is where people can come to take delivery of their new Volkswagens.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!).
Here, Spencer checks out the computer interaction for the SEAT Cupra.
It’s a nice, sporty sedan with VW mechanical parts.
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.
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.
My favorite building was the ZeitHaus, which is a museum and technology display.
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.
More of the Zeithaus museum.
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).
Next to the 1886 Benz was this interesting collection of old headlights, horns, tool kits, etc.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A view of the 1936 VW V3 Prototype from the rear.
I’m glad they eventually decided to put in a rear window.
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).
The beautiful grille from the Type C in the previous picture.
A beautiful late 30’s BMW 328 sedan. I like it better than the new ones!
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.
Compare the cutaway New Beetle to the original in the previous picture.
They’re not as simple, eh?
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.
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)
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.
The view from behind the Messerschmitt KR200. It’s barely 36 inches wide.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
The hood ornament on the Citroen Duck.
Even American cars are represented with this 1959 Cadillac Eldorado.
Look at the tailfins on that Eldorado!! I bet those two tail fins alone weigh more than
one of the Messerschmitt KR200s pictured earlier.
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.
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.
A depiction of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni”. Seems like a rowdy audience.
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.
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.
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.
Walking back to the Volkswagen pavilion, we passed these Volkswagen Rabbits. Really!
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.
The most economical Volkswagens made. Yes, VW makes bicycles.
The mountain bike on the end is $990.00.
Spencer got to try his hand at loading and unloading the truck with the remote controls.
He did a great job!
After loading the truck, Spencer decided to try out one of the massage chairs.
They utilize the same mechanisms as in the Phaeton seats.
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.
Would you have believed me? VW Ketchup!!! Honest!!!
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.
When we went to the parking lot to get our car, we found this classic Beetle parked next to us.
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!!
The Lupo interior.
Just because it’s the smallest model doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.
This is the sporty version of the Lupo.
This is the view of the sport Lupo most drivers will see as it accelerates past them.
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.
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.
A view of the VW Phaeton from the rear.
Hope you enjoyed your tour of the Autostadt!