Stuttgart, Germany

As my rail pass nears the end of its validity, I am scrambling to make the most of it. So, this morning, only moments after stumbling off the night train from Venice, I tossed my bag at the hostel and boarded the inter-city express train to Stuttgart. Why? To the the Porsche museum, of course!

While the new museum is under construction (scheduled for completion in December 2008), the old one serves as a reasonable standby. There is a nice history of Ferdinand Porsche and a sweet collection of cars. To see more modern offerings, I also explored the sprawling Porsche dealership located nearby. I am not really a car guy, but Porsche is not really a car. To my mind, it’s similar to a Ferrari: steeped in lore, festooned with awards and something of a fine-art sculpture and cinematic star all wrapped up in one.

F.A. Porsche also played a crucial role in the history of VW: his company was commissioned to provide the design for the original Volkswagen (the Beetle), which went on to become the best selling car in history. Pretty cool. Not only was Porsche responsible for helping make automobiles more affordable, the engineering is really something. I’d hoped to tour the plant – all Porsche engines are fabricated in Stuttgart, though the vehicles are all assembled elsewhere – but it was closed for summer holidays and maintenance. I supposed besides the excellent Bavarian beer, I have another excuse to return.