Audi Forum Car Factory and Museum, Ingolstadt, Germany

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This post was originally published on February 18, 2013 and updated on February 11, 2020.

Last weekend I had planned to travel by train to Ingolstadt to see the Audi automobile visitor’s center, called the Audi Forum. You may remember that I’ve visited the BMW visitor center, called BMW Welt, in Munich in the past. Also on my to-do list are the VW plant in Wolfsburg, and the Mercedes and Porsche factories in Stuttgart. However, Ingolstadt was a daytrip away from here so it was on my docket for Saturday.

I happened to mention my plans to my student Carmela and her husband Ivan, two fast-growing friends of mine. Both of them attended the whisky-tasting excursion last week, so you would have seen them in the photos in that blog entry. They were very interested in seeing the Audi place, too, and Ivan graciously volunteered to drive us. Count me in!

It so happens that Ivan had recently placed an order to buy a new BMW M3. He will take delivery in a few months at the center in Munich. Meanwhile, they gave him a loaner to drive until then. This brand-new BMW with leather upholstery, GPS, and all the other bells and whistles was our chariot to visit the Audi museum (which somehow must be against the rules but we didn’t care).

The morning was clear and sunny after a little snow the night before. It gave the beautiful evergreens a Christmasy look:

I have to mention that last weekend was the beginning of the week-long winter break for most of Europe. Kids were out of school and VERY many cars with ski racks were on the autobahn with us. It took us about three hours to make the trip which normally would have taken about half that time:

But we made it. And evidence of the local large employer was everywhere, including this somewhat puzzling decoration on the side of the local Burger King just off the highway:

The BMW’s GPS was apparently not jealous and led us to the Audi Forum:

In the parking garage was a teaser in the form of a new Audi S7 with its cover askew:

We made our way to the information desk where they directed us to the proper place to pay our two Euros – Ivan got a discount because he’s in the Army. I think Carmela could have gotten a discount for being a student and I probably could have gotten one for being a teacher, but we didn’t think to mention it until later. Either way, though, it didn’t break the bank!

We paid the pittance and were invited to take the elevator to the third floor (that’s the fourth floor to you Americans) and start with the oldest cars in the museum first. Then we were to walk down to each level and end with the new technology on the ground floor.

The Audi company started in 1909. Through the years, up to 1985, four other companies merged with Audi to become what it is today. One of those contributing companies was a brand called Horch, which merged into Audi in 1899.  The first car I saw on the top floor was this Horch:

I saw these beauties – and motorcycles, too:

In each section of the museum there was a stand with about 10 or 12 stacks of postcards. Each stack had a bit of information about Audi’s history on the back with an appropriate picture on the front. Instead of a book or leaflet, you could collect postcards. I think if I’d picked up one of each type, I’d have come away with at least 100 postcards. Instead, I ended up with about eight.

From the postcards I learned that the Roman numerals on the license plates were the old German numbering system. The IIIA designation on the upper photo means the car was registered in Stuttgart. The V on the motorcycle plates indicate its registration in Zwickau, Saxony.

Of course, if you are a major player in the German car industry, you must have a racing pedigree. And so Audi does:

Here’s an actual LeMans trophy!

And here’s a shot of Carmela shooting Ivan near another race car, which had scuffs and scars from running a race. I love the design of the display to use even the window frame to lend movement to a static display:

Of course, the Audi Quattro was duly represented. It was all the rage when Jamie and I were in Europe back in the 80’s. It largely swept all the major road rally competitions. It was named Quattro because of its four-wheel drive (oh, and probably those four rings in the Audi logo):

They had bicycles, too. Here’s Carmela next to our favorite. Even though Carmela is admittedly “vertically challenged,” the bike must be for a very tall person!

This display mechanism rotated through all floors continuously, showing off more Audi models:

My favorite shot of the day was this – I positioned Carmela and Ivan behind the display and made it look like they were going for a ride:

Ivan checked out the suicide doors on this model before the high-heeled, blonde, way-too-serious German attendant yelled at him for it:

Carmela and I agreed that this was our favorite car in the whole exhibit:

My second-favorite car in the place was this old Horch Pullman limo from 1953. It’s the last-known latest Horch model. It had wooden construction inside and had a manual, roll-up window between the driver and the backseat passengers. This custom one-of-a-kinder was purchased by a German and sold to an American solder in 1956 who brought it home with him. It spent 40 years in the desert of Texas when it was discovered and returned to its original city. I love the fact they left it looking the way they did. No renovation, just sanded down and sealed:

You can see its original appearance on the sign here:

This little concept car is all-electric. I have better photos of it, but I needed the only one with a person in it to give you some sense of scale. Otherwise it looked like a child’s toy. I love the wheels and fenders!

Here’s the newest racing model, a LeMans prototype that is an electric/diesel hybrid.

I was all ready to take it for a spin until I saw how you have to drive it:

After we finished seeing all the museum cars, we walked through the Audi restaurant (no, didn’t eat there) and checked out the delivery area. This ultra-modern Quonset hut is where you pick up your new Audi if you take European delivery:

Here’s the kiosk where your name appears alongside what time your new car will be ready downstairs:

After perusing all the Audi Forum had for us, we jaunted across the courtyard to the showroom where you could buy the new models.

The one I came all the way to Ingolstadt to see was the R8. I tried to wait until no one was near it, but this group of Germans WOULD NOT LEAVE!

Ivan was here to check out the RS5. It was on his list along with the BMW M3 before he made his decision to go with the fellas in Munich:

After all this we were pretty hungry, so we headed downtown to get something to eat. We also managed to get into the local church as well. But that part of the trip will just have to wait until next week. So, until then, have a good week and see you next time!

Photo for No Apparent Reason: