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Zuffenhausen Chronicles: A Close Encounter with Porsche’s Legacy

The idea started innocently enough. In the early spring of 2022, it occurred to me that few people travel to Germany in late October. By then, Oktoberfest is over, it’s too early to ski and the Christmas markets have not gone into full swing. 2022 was going to be the year that I get to the Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen, Germany.

It’s important to note that I had both selfish and unselfish reasons for visiting the museum. The selfish reason, obviously, was to see the museum and the awe-inspiring pieces within its walls. The unselfish reason was to create a photo catalogue for the folks who may never make it there. As far as I’ve found, there is no comprehensive, detailed Porsche Museum gallery on the internet. Granted, the exhibits change often. Nonetheless, my hope was to document all the cars in the museum during my visit. What follows is a short story about the logistics and experience of my trip. As well, there is a link to an organized, detailed Google Photo Album of over 500 pictures from the Porsche Museum at the end of October, 2022. Link to the album is at the bottom of this post. 

My wife was on board with a solo trip so long as I kept the cost down. I’m a no-frills kind of guy (sensible German in my own right). Having traveled extensively on budgets, I know how to keep a trip cheap. This would be an in and out, three-days on the ground, trip. I did not have to look far for great airfare. The lowest cost route was on Lufthansa from Newark, NJ to Frankfurt. This would also require taking round-trip Amtrak trains from BWI to Newark on the US side. Once in Germany, I would be roundtrip traveling the train between Frankfurt and Stuttgart/Zuffenhausen. The total cost of the trains on both sides plus airfare was way cheaper than flying direct into Stuttgart from any airport close to my home in Maryland.

I know some reading this may think what a hassle – Amtrak to Lufthansa to Deutsche Bahn to S-Bahn to shoe leather express. Remember the goal was to keep the cost down. We have one in college and two more coming into college age in the not-too-distant future.

The bottom line is I could have traveled to Zuffenhausen with less hassle but at double the cost. Long-story short, I’m an experienced traveler accustomed to navigating other countries. So, taking a bit longer route is not an obstacle. If I’m being honest, I enjoyed my travel path to Zuffenhausen and met a few nice people along the way.

For accommodation, I picked Hotel B&B. This is a relatively small hotel chain operating around Europe. Rates are more than reasonable. The rooms are clean, comfy and perfect for folks doing little more than sleeping and showering. More than anything, the Hotel B&B in Zuffenhausen is 300 meters from the museum. What more could I ask for? Before spring had sprung in 2022, I was booked for a fall trip to Zuffenhausen and counting the days.  

About three months out, I got an email from Porsche saying that factory tours were back on. As you might have guessed, Covid shut down factory tours for a long time. So, yes, I scheduled a 911 factory tour for the unfathomably low rate of 10€. If my excitement was not already primed it went into overdrive with the idea of touring the factory. Oh, by the way entry to the museum for Porsche Club of America members is only 5€.

At 7:30am on Wednesday, October 27th my flight made a blind landing in Frankfurt due to fog. With a short wait for my ICE train to Stuttgart, I enjoyed a few baked goods and a sandwich. Deutsche Bahn has a convenient long-distance station right next to Frankfurt airport that offers a seamless way to get moving once on the ground. The one hour and ten-minute ride deposited me at Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof where I switched to the local S-Bahn.  Four stops later and I was at the Zuffenhausen Neuwirtshaus stop at Porscheplatz. After a much-needed ten-minute walk, I checked in early to the hotel. 

With this being a short trip, I knew it was critical to stay awake day one. For that reason, I booked the 911 factory tour in the middle of the day. Interesting content and a lot of walking would keep the sluggishness away. The tour started at the museum where we then walked across the traffic circle with the flying 911s. No cameras or cell phones were allowed on the tour. Sorry, no pics from the factory tour.

Our first stop on the tour was the point where the painted bodies have been married to the chassis and arrive for the beginning of interior installs. We followed the cars along the way to wheel mounting. On the line, folks have minutes to get their parts of the car in place as the line moves. Funny point our guide made is that the wheel center caps are sent separate from the car due to theft in transport. From there, we visited the leather dying, prep and cutting area. We finished with the boxer engine assembly line. The engine line is long and has many stations that are by far staffed with humans. It’s the rare station that has a robot arm swinging around. The 1.5 hours spent in the factory provided impressive insight into the logistics, precision and production of the iconic 911.

The tour wrapped up in the 3:00 hour and I was starting to feel my energy fade. While tempted to go back to the hotel and sleep until the next day, I opted to take the train into Stuttgart. Right before my arrival, the Porsche Brand Store opened in Stuttgart. Not a store per se, rather a boutique to entertain and amaze. The ‘store’ does sell some items but seems to be more of a location for cobranding. In the time I was there, a popular DJ was spinning one night and another night there was a wine tasting.

The unseasonably warm weather made for a summer-like evening. Throngs of people shopped and wandered near the area around Schlossplatz. As the sun dipped below the buildings the glow of the Ferris wheel just outside the Neues Schloss grew brighter. At the same time, my energy faded with the sun. On the way back to the S Bahn, I lucked into passing a shawarma joint off Konigstrasse. I can’t resist shaved meat stuffed in a pita with the works. With a full belly and short train ride back to the hotel, I turned in for the evening.

The Porsche Museum opened at 9:00am on Friday the 28th. I was up at 7:00am strategizing. Fully stoked for a day in the museum, I fueled up a block down from the hotel at Siegel’s 711 bakery. The super friendly staff and wide array of baked goods, coffee and sandwiches made Siegel’s a no brainer.

The museum’s layout takes you in a long, upward, counterclockwise pattern. Once at the top, you take a long escalator back down. To that end, my strategy was to be there early and go straight to the top and work my way down as others came up. Then, later in the day, when others were at the top, I would start at the bottom. My hope was few people in my photos. 

Generally speaking, the strategy worked well as I had the top 1/3 of the museum mostly to myself for 45 minutes. The same was true later in the day. As the final stragglers came into the museum late in the day, they hurried through. This left the first 1/3 of the museum almost empty for the last 45 minutes of the day.

Over the course of two days, I spent 7 hours in the museum capturing all but four cars in fair detail. The four cars I did not capture are in the photos but were on a high shelf that did not allow for detailed photography. Once I photographed all the cars and their respective information placards, I tucked my phone away and wandered through the museum a second time to read, experience and enjoy.

I’ve been to countless museums around the world. In my opinion, there is no better run or organized than the Porsche Museum. The accessibility of the cars is the key. You can get right up to the cars and take as detailed a photo as you want (as you will see in my pictures).

I cannot express enough what a great experience the museum was. As you walk past some of the 917s you can smell the car. If you’re a petrolhead you know the smells I’m talking about. You will visit few museums that give such a real response like the Zuffenhausen Porsche Museum will.

Here is your link to the Porsche Museum Album.

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