Autoworld .. Bruessels
Ferrari 250 GT Boano
Bugatti T57 "Jacques Brown"
Alpine 1300S Berlinetta
1913 "Bebe" Peugeot BP1
1948 Alfa Romeo 2500 SS
1934 Belga Rise
Brussels, Belgium, 13 December, 2011
The Cinquantenaire Park in the centre of Brussels was built as part of the vision of King Leopold II, in the late part of the 19th Century, although it was not completed until early in the 20th Century. Central to the park is the majestic triumphal arch from either side of which spread the colonnades to the exhibition centres, which were used for the first time in 1880 to exhibit products of Belgian art and industry, and later for the 1897 World Exposition. Today the architecturally impressive complex is devoted to museums, the north wing housing the Aviation & Army Museum, and the south wing the Autoworld Automobile Museum, which was inaugurated in 1985.
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The museum came into being through the vision of Ghislain Mahy who was an inveterate Belgian car collector, a passion carried on by his son Ivan today with the Mahy Collection. It started when he bought his first car, a 1921 Model T Ford in 1944, and now encompasses some 950 vehicles, including cars, motorcycles and trucks, along with a vast array of automobilia, like garage signs, petrol pumps, badges, mascots, literature and almost anything car related that one may care to think of. Thanks to his generosity the museum normally has over 200 vehicles on display at any one time, and sometimes more if there is a special themed exhibition on the agenda. Apart from the main motorised element of the museum, there is also the separate Pierre D’ieteren Room, which houses a collection of horse drawn carriages, including the state coach used by Napoleon III at the time of his marriage to Eugenie de Montigeot. This section of the museum display is part of The Royal Museum of Art and History’s collection.
The range of vehicles on display spans from the pioneering days of motoring at the start of the 20th century, to the present day. Within this wide palette there is a broad spectrum of types, including cars, commercial vehicles, public service vehicles and motorcycles. At present there is very little in the way of competition cars in the museum, but during 2012 a sport and competition display area will be incorporated, broadening the scope of the museum still further.
However, even without any major competition element, there is still a diverse and interesting array of vehicles on display, ranging from well known prestigious marques like Bentley, Bugatti, Cadillac, Delage, Delahaye, Mercedes-Benz, and Rolls Royce, to obscure and long lost brands like Alva, Belga Rise, Darmont, FN, Graham, Omega, and Rovin. The cars come from many parts of the globe, like a 1951 Moskvitch 400, which bears a strong resemblance to the 1939 Opel Kadett, not surprising as the tooling went to Russia in the aftermath of WW II. Then there is the Trabant that became ubiquitous in Western Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the Tatra from Czechoslovakia. Whilst from closer to home, there are Citroens, Peugeots and Renaults, from Italy there is Alfa Romeo and Ferrari,from across “La Manche” Lotus, Jaguar and Sunbeam, and from the USA, Cord, La Salle, Packard and Studebaker to name but a few. As mentioned, there are many obscure vehicles in the museum, but the prize must go to the unique (some might say fortunately) pre-war Bugatti T57, that was re-bodied in 1954 by the sculptor Jacques Brown in a more aerodynamic form using polyester for the body panels, thus saving weight and increasing performance. His vision was highly praised at the time, but probably not so by marque purists more than half a century later.
The museum also features a well stocked boutique, Babouin, located outside the ticket gate, which specialises in a wide range of scale models and books. If you are hungry or thirsty there is the Autoworld Brasserie located adjacent to the boutique.
Autoworld Automobile Museum
Esplanade Parc du Cinquantenaire 11
Museum Opening Times
Monday – Friday from 10.00 to 17.00
Saturday & Sunday from 10.00 to 18.00
Closed 25 December 2011, but open 01 January 2012.
Note: there is an exceptional closure on 16.01.2012.
Museum Admission Fees
Adults ........................................ 9 Euros
Groups of 15+ Adults ................... 7 Euros (per person)
Students/Seniors (60+)/Disabled .. 6 Euros
Children 6 – 12 Years .................. 4.50 Euros
School Groups ............................ 3 Euros (per child)
Children under 6 ......................... Free
Further Information can be obtained from http://www.autoworld.be/