• Celebrating the Classic Car – Collections across Europe

    by  • February 9, 2015 • Brussels, City Breaks, Exhibitions, Milan, Monaco, Munich, Riga, Transport, Turin

    From Monaco to Munich, visit and view some of Europe and America’s finest vintage vehicles.


    This weekend saw Paris play host to the Retromobile show, a major international event devoted to the classic car, with some 500 vintage automobiles sure to have ignited the passions of many a classic car enthusiast. And yet whilst you’ll have to wait another year for Retromobile to come around, there’s still plenty of other museums and permanent collections across Europe devoted to the art and history of the car, all easily combinable with other city break sightseeing essentials. Here’s a little round up…

    If it’s classic cars you’re after, then why not pop over to Brussels and visit AutoWorld, housed in the South Hall of the Belgian capital’s prestigious Parc du Cinquantenaire, itself an architectural highlight of the city. Home to over 250 vintage European and American automobiles dating from the late 19th century through to the 1970s, the collection showcases the history and development of the automobile over the course of a century, with exhibits including a 1928 Bentley, a 1930 Bugatti, race cars and a number of limousines belonging to the Belgian royal family There’s also a monthly programme of temporary exhibitions; February and March are dedicated to the VW Lovebugs Parade and Japanese Supercars respectively.

    In Monaco meanwhile, check out the Monaco Top Cars Collection, Prince Rainier’s private collection of almost 100 classic cars originating from Europe and the US, including a black London taxi gifted to Grace Kelly and a Bugatti 1929, the first Formula One racing car to win the inaugural Monaco Grand Prix. You’ll also find horse-drawn carriages, sports cars, military vehicles, popular and prestige cars, as well as the classic vintage vehicles. Located on the Terrasses de Fontvieille, the museum is open daily from 10am until 6pm.

    Turning to Turin, the Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile (National Automobile Museum) plays host to a collection of almost 200 cars originating from America and Europe. Among its exhibits are some of the earliest Italian cars including an 1896 Bernardi and an 1899 Fiat. There’s also an 1894 Peugeot, a 1904 Oldsmobile, a 1914 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost as well as racing cars by Alfa Romeo and Ferrari. And if you happen to be in Milan over the summer months, you might just catch the grand reopening of the Museo Storico Alfa Romeo in Arese, headquarters of the Alfa Romeo brand some 12km northwest of the city.

    If we’re talking specific makes, then the BMW Museum in Munich is a must. The museum’s permanent collection covers some 90 years of automobile history and houses over 120 of the iconic make’s different models, featuring not just cars, but motorbikes and engines as well. There’s also the ‘art car collection’, showcasing one of several vehicles designed and decorated by famous names in the art world, Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and Roy Lichtenstein among them. And throughout 2015 (and January 2016), there’s a special temporary exhibition devoted to the Mini, entitled The Mini Story.

    Last but by no means least, situated a stone’s throw from the city centre, the Riga Motor Museum in the Lavtian capital offers a fascinating overview of automotive history. The largest antique car museum across the Baltic countries, the museum exhibits a variety of cars, bikes and mopeds originating from Latvia, pre-war and Soviet-era vehicles, military machinery and race cars. And yet by far the star attraction has to be its Kremlin Collection, including Stalin’s armour-plated limousine and Brezhnev’s Silver Shadow Rolls Royce. One to schedule in for a later date perhaps, as the museum’s antique car collection is currently not available to view whilst the building undergoes reconstruction.


    With a French grandmother, childhood holidays on the continent and a degree in French and Spanish, a love of languages and travel has always been in my blood. Fresh from university with an unfettered enthusiasm to show off my linguistic ability and first-hand knowledge of the world beyond the UK, I entered the travel industry and, 16 years on, I’m still there! With several years spent in the luxury sector planning escorted holidays across Europe for the American market, followed by an even longer tenure designing short breaks with a difference in the must-see cities of Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Amsterdam, Madrid, Prague, Florence, Brussels, Venice, Salzburg, Milan, Krakow and Berlin (to name but a few), it’s fair to say that Europe is my passion! Today my travels have taken me far beyond the boundaries of Europe with so many destinations still to discover, yet the continent abounds in such a wealth of treasures – historical and architectural, cultural and musical, gastronomic, artistic and linguistic – that its appeal, for me, will be eternal.