Gina and I wanted to get to the factory as soon as they opened. We got up early and headed down for breakfast. I really enjoyed the German breakfasts. They serve cold cuts and cheese as well as eggs, sausage, and bacon. They have really good coffee and the cheese was good also. As we are leaving the hotel we see a Volkswagen Transporter Van – this is a model that I would like to have but they are not available in the US.
The Volkswagen Factory and Autostadt was not far from our hotel and you can see the factory from the road which just built up our excitement!
The Autostadt is a theme park dedicated to cars. There are seven pavilions that are dedicated to the principal automobile brands in the Volkswagen Group – Bentley, Škoda, Lamborghini, Audi, SEAT, and two for Volkswagen – which was many more than we thought. There are a couple of brands that we don’t get in the US.
The main part of the Autostadt that interested us was the ZeitHaus (Time House) that houses many cars. This building was especially interesting with it’s 5 open floors all made out of glass.
You start off with the first horseless carriage built by Mercedes. Next there was the Ford model T. Progressing through the twenties you get to the first prototype Dr. Porsche built in 1932.
Then you see the next prototype built in 1936.
Then finally in 1938 the final design. This is the car that Hitler approved for production.
Soon after production began, Hitler invaded Poland and Germany was thrust into World War Two. Re-tooling the factory to make military vehicles instead of Beetles was not an easy job. This caused the Wolfsburg factory to become one of the biggest targets for the Allied bombers. Soon all the bombs the Allied forces could find were falling on the huge Volkswagen factory. By the end of the war the Wolfsburg site was all but destroyed.
With the end of World War Two, Germany’s reconstruction was beginning. The Allies soon discovered that they were in need of transportation. Rather than import vehicles from the West, they realized they had a fully capable automobile manufacturing facility right in Germany. Thus the re-birth of Volkswagen AG was begun. A British General was put in charge of the plant; they found that although the building structure was damaged, a lot of the tooling remained intact. This sped up the process of getting the production line back up and running. By 1946 the Wolfsburg factory once again was producing Beetles. By 1955 Volkswagen had build the one millionth Beetle. To celebrate this accomplishment, they adorned the Bug in Gold paint, sequined chrome and a red pastel interior. Seeing this bug in person was a real treat.
The best part about the museum is; there are no ropes or barriers to keep you away from the cars. My curiosity got the best of me. I was very interested in the underneath side of the cars.
The one millionth Bug in all its glory still has oil drips. Makes me feel much better about all of my VW’s leaving spots all over.
The collection continued with various examples of sedans, convertibles, Ghias and Type 3’s (oddly there was only one bus on display).
Throw in a few Porsches and a Lamborghini or two – they ended up with a very nice display of early cars. It was a very impressive site.
Next time we will talk about the rest of the Autostadt and Volkswagen factory. If you want to see more pictures, see the page on our website dedicated to the Autostadt and the Volkswagen Museum.