Saturday, October 23, 2010

Schlumpfing around in 1986

It's funny how one thing leads to another, but yesterday I asked myself how many cars in my diecast model collection are also in the French National Motor Museum at Mulhouse. This is the collection that a lot of people still know as the Schlumpf Collection, as the French National Motor Museum Collection's history starts with the Government's acquisition of the huge Schlumpf Collection. Well, it turns out that there are quite a few models in my cabinets which are also in the Mulhouse museum (I think the number is about 15, but I'm counting my five different models of Peugeot 203 as one, for example). And so I went to my box of old photos and dug out the pix I took 24 years ago, in 1986, when I spent a day at the Schlumpf Museum.

The next thing I knew I was scanning these photos as a way of preserving them, and here I am today doing a blog posting on that visit, way back in 1986. 

Inside the Museum there were so many Bugattis – every model in every colour,
astonishing riches. And they had so many spare Bugatti supercharger cases
that they formed a big, beautiful B for Bugatti out of them for one wall.

Sorry about the picture quality. The prints have faded and the light was a bit
strange indoors anyway. Avenues and avenues of cars in every direction, and
I was there midweek on a bleak day in March when it was almost deserted.

Might as well start with the Bugattis, which is what the Museum is famous
for. In fact I stumbled across the museum rather than sought it out. Driving
along the highway I saw a very large sign with nothing but the shape of a
Bugatti radiator on it, with "5 km" underneath it. The signs were repeated at
each kilometre mark after that, so I took the turn-off, correctly guessing where
I was headed. I stayed the night in a village nearby, was at the museum at the
9am opening time next morning and stayed till the close. There were Bugattis
aplenty, inluding some I'd never heard of, such as this Type 50 Cabriolet.
As well as having every model they have every colour of every model of
Bugatti. Wow. These are just two of their Type 57s.
The space is so big the long laneways of lightposts really do narrow at
the ends. Needless to say, more Bugattis, every colour.
Another one I hadn't heard of before. Bugatti 73A from 1947.
This was nice, I wanted to take it home. Bugatti 101, from 1951.
What a design statement. The T50 from 1933.

As well as the full-size Type 52 they had little toy models made by the factory
for Ettore Bugatti's children. Looks like the kids never used them as they
are immaculate, rather than beaten up, as they would have been if normal
kids (ie, like me) had been allowed to get their hands on them.
As a sudden segue into all the other cars here that are not Bugattis, I might as
well start with the mighty Peugeot 203. As this is the French National Motor
Museum, and as the Peugeot HQ was near Mulhouse, where the museum
is located, Peugeot was represented here with virtually every known model,
including this 203, which I am collecting in 1:43 size, and which I once owned
in real-world, 1:1 size as well. What a great car, worthy of any motor museum.

I've got one of these in my model cabinet, too. A Panhard Dyna.
And it's just a matter of time before I add a Panhard Dyna Junior, the cabriolet
version of the Dyna, to the collection too. Small engines ruled in early post-
war Europe. This one (and the Dyna) were powered by an 850cc flat twin.
It was great to see Gordini 'The Wizard' so well represented here. I'm on the
lookout for a 1:43 diecast model of the Simca Gordini on the right.
Other nations' cars are well represented here, such as Mercedes from Germany
and these Maseratis and Ferraris in that superb Italian racing red. Those
distinctive colours – red for the Italians, blue for the French and silver for
the Germans – were such a wonderful part of racing back then.
Further on down the line in that bevy of red Italians was this 1933 Maserati
8CM driven by one of my heroes, Tazio Nuvolari. Looking good in retirement.
In the foreground here is a 1970 model Type 312 Ferrari F1 car raced by Jacky
Ickx and Clay Reggazoni. Behind is a gaggle of Bugattis in French racing blue.
While I don't have this Cisitalia in my diecast collection (and I'd like to) I
do have a road-going Cisitalia, 1947, in which Nuvolari came second in the
Mille Miglia that year. This little race car is, like most of the Cisitalias of
the era, powered by a small engine, an 1100cc Fiat engine.

Wonderful. The Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 Coupe. Unfortunately the diecast
models of this cost squillions, so I'm hanging onto my Schlumpf photo,
which proves I have seen one in the flesh.
Speaking of seeing things in the flesh, this is the first
glimpse I got of the Tatra there. I knew immediately
what it was – the Tatra 87.
This was an unusual car in that it was not immaculate
and shiny. It looks like it had been driven straight
to the Museum from Prague and was in used condition.
And I'll finish off with a corny little exhibit they had there. Press the button
on the "Why a Suspension?" and the little conveyor belt with built-in bumps
rolls along, upsetting the water in the left-side wagon that is unsprung, without
suspension, and barely disturbing the water in the right-side wagon, which
no doubt has a soft, comfy, long-travel French suspension. This is probably
something that is a bit naff now, and probably isn't there any more.
I'm not sure when I'll be visiting Europe next, but if and when I do I will be setting aside at least one day to spend wandering around this great car Museum in Mulhouse, France. I am sure it has changed in the 24 years since my last visit (and a visit to the official website shows it's extremely different now, which is what I'd expect). However, I look forward to discovering the things that have changed, and the marvels that are still as wonderful as ever.

While I have included a link above to the official website, I found it slow, so I'll add that you can also see the current collection online at this gallery.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. wow!!!
    its really awesome.
    I love vintage cars, because their more beautiful than the others and their standard is really great!


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