Saturday, July 20, 2013

Munich's Transportation Museum

Planes, trains and automobiles were all on display at the Munich Transportation Museum

But for many, like myself, the cars were most fascinating.
Had I been travelling with Gordon Price in Germany, he would have insisted that we spend at least a day or two in Munich’s Transportation Museum. While I didn’t have that much time, I did spend a few hours on my last afternoon browsing around two historic 1908 exhibition halls full of displays and equipment showing how people have moved about over the past 200 years.

The museum included wonderful collections of horse drawn carriages, bicycles, motorcycles, trains, historic automobiles and vehicles that defied categorization. The latter included a Sinclair C5 45 Kg battery powered tricycle that was developed in UK in the 1980’s but didn’t sell despite a price of only 399 pounds. I could easily see it becoming a mobility choice for an aging population in the future.

There was a good collection of old and new trains and trams and one can only hope that one day we’ll start to see the newer versions on Vancouver streets. The more I travelled around Germany on trams, the more I became convinced, like Patrick Condon and others, that we should make every effort to fit in trams along Broadway and elsewhere in the region, rather than rely on more expensive alternatives.
There were a lot of bikes that Gordon Price would have loved. One of my favourites  was a 1904 model with a bamboo frame.  But I wish I could have brought back the Mercedes Hybrid or pedelec bike prototypical bike which was developed in 2000. Unlike an electric bike, it offers only power assistance.That would be very appealing. A Mercedes bicycle.
For those interested in motorcycles, there was a considerable number of old and unusual bikes on display, including this one from the 1890's.
Two of my favourite cars were on display...
the classic Citroen that was very much ahead of its time, and a 1959 pink caddie were on display.
Here are some of the prototype or concept cars of yesteryear, which, as I wrote in my Hamburg IBA story, often look extreme at the time, but quite normal a few decades later. For example, the bright green Opel developed in the 1970’s looks like many of today’s cars, as does the somewhat boxy thing look like today's crossover vehicles. Perhaps two exceptions are a 1924 prototype car designed by an aeronautical engineer that was fascinating to look at and dramatically different than the cars of the day, and a 1940 Tetra that looked like an airplane and actually saw limited production. Sadly WWII interfered with its production.

On display was a 1995 ‘autonomous mobility’ Mercedes 500SEL that practically drove itself from Munich to Copenhagen and back. And we all thought self-driving cars were a new thing. Another fascinating vehicle was Pinky, a 1990 solar powered racing vehicle developed by a group of students. It travelled more than 10,000 km solely on solar power and won a few races.

There were numerous electric cars on display, which reminded me of the movie Who Killed the Electric Car? since some of them seemed most suitable for today's roads.

There's so much more to see and write about, but I'm running out of steam (pun intended since there were steam engines on display). But if you go to Munich, allow yourself at least half a day for this fascinating museum. Unles you're with Gord; then allow two days!


Tim said...

You can get your own pedelec bike or even convert your own bike to one. See or JV Bikes in Vancouver

Anonymous said...

1940 Tatra. Please correct it.