A hidden gem of rare and wonderful vehicles, situated in the beautiful Austrian countryside.
Picture a typical turn of the century Austrian Wirtshaus “cosy restaurant”, with an unassuming side doorway. Through which you are greeted by a room lined with display cabinets of model cars and a few vintage mopeds, placing you in no doubt that you’ve come to the right place. Before you stands the ticket desk and a set of double doors with wooden turnstall. Left are the toilets and to the right an adjacent room opens up with cafe style seating and cold beverages. For something more substantial after your visit, you can pop next door to the Wirtshaus.
Push through the turnstall and door, you are welcomed by the subtle scent of oil, rubber and leather - the reassuring old car smell, inviting you into a large modern exhibition hall where the main collection is housed. The space is well lit and clean. Aside the buzzing from electric lighting it is quite peaceful too. The vehicles are well laid out along a path, shown with helpful arrows, behind a shoulder height glass barrier or chain dividers, allowing you to get close to the cars but not too close. Some windows have been left open, and if your‘re careful not to touch, you can get a closer look at the interior and a good sniff of that m wonderful old car smell.
Generally, the exhibits have been parked in a chronological order, from 1899 until the 1990s, each with a descripton panel detailing the make, model, year, country of origin, horsepower, and engine capacity. With an impressive range of 1930s Austrian, German and eastern European cars, especially the home grown Steyrs.
Leading full circle you find yourself back where you started and the exit. Take the narrow staircase up to the first floor and you‘ll find a smaller gallery, situated in the “old” building. Unfortunately, with the architecture, there isn’t a lift. A handful of smaller cars, from the 1930s to 1960s, with a few bubble cars and some british classics, greet you in the surprisingly large space.
Aside from such makes as Adler, Mercedes, Skoda, Tatra, Hansa, Hanomag, DKW, Citroen, Ford, Overland, BMW, Porsche… the list seems endless, the museum also boasts the usual suspects. A Porsche 911, VW Beetle, Renault 5, Corvette Stingray, Chevrolet Camaro, Citroen 2CV, and an E-Type Jaguar. And with such a fantastic collection, it is indeed a hard job to find one particular favourite. That said, my favourites have to the 1930s Steyrs and of course seeing two of my dream cars, the WW2 Willys Jeep and 1938 Citroen 11.
Several highlights of the museum are surely the Austrian government‘s enormous prewar 1936 Gräf und Stift armoured limousine, the 1899 Kutschenmobil, or the unique 1910 German Adler Morgan, coach built by Morgan in England. Although the aerodynamic styled 1930s Adlers and 1950s Tatras and DKWs are also keen challengers.
Apart from the ample seating area mentioned there isn‘t any seating inside the museum, although there is an additional toilet on the first floor. The staff are friendly and helpful, with tickets costing €7.50 for adults and €2.00 for children over the age of 6years old. With special rates for students, pensioners, families, and groups.
Situated in Marienplatz, in the centre of Aspang-Markt, a small quant town in beautiful Lower Austria. The museum is about an hours drive south of the Austrian capital, on the Süd Autobahn (southern motorway). During the school holidays its open weekdays from 1pm to 5pm and 10am till midday at weekends. However, I would recommend checking the opening times on the website prior to making any travel plans.
All in all the museum is unpretentious, enjoyable and a breath of fresh air. I would certainly recommend a visit, especially if you make a day trip to the area or are holidaying locally.
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Olivier C Dorrell is the author of British Officer’s Peak Caps of the Second World War (Schiffer Books, 2014) and is the Webmaster of the Worcestershire Militaria Museum, virtual museum. He is interested in art and history, military history in particular, and is a keen visitor and supporter of museums and the unique experiences they offer.