Bored at night last night and looking for something to do today I searched for a car museum in Nuremberg. I found out there is one car museum in the city, the Merks Motor Museum. Today I visited the Merks, and I found it to be one of the coolest small automotive museums I have ever been to. The Merks is a privately owned car museum, and it runs as a family operation, it is basically the private collection of Herr Claus Merk, a car collector from Nuremberg. The museum was empty today, it was a sunny Sunday and most Germans were out riding their bicycles and enjoying the sunshine.
Arriving at the Merks I was greeted by Christine Merk, the daughter of the owner, a rather attractive German lady (most of them are...), she spoke better English than I did German, and I bombed her with a lot of questions about the museum, classic car meetings, etc in the area. She obviously grew up around her father's collection and was definitely a motor head too. She gave me lots of information, which is good because a lot of these local classic car shows are passed word of mouth and not much is posted on the web. After while she told me to go check out the cars in the museum and when I was done she would have some more stuff for me.
The collection is rather eclectic, encompassing everything from 1930s sedans, German microcars, Porsches, Ferraris, Italian econoboxes, tractors, typewriters, telephones, etc. Her father is apparently a guy who is in love with random machinery and found an organized way to maintain his collection and make money at the same time. I told her I liked SAAB and was active in an online SAAB community, and next weekend I am going to the SAAB meeting in Frankfurt, she said I had come at the right day, because today was the first day they had a SAAB 96 on display, her father had literally just towed the car in yesterday, all the way from Sweden.Originally Posted by Nürnberger Zeitung
I spent a good hour walking around the museum, taking lots of pictures, I thought the entire collection was very interesting. It did not discriminate against more plebeian cars, and it featured a VW Golf sitting right behind a Ferrari 308 GTO. I thought it was cool they had the car my grandfather learned to drive on ( a Ford Model T), the car my mom learned to drive on (a DKW Sedan two-stroke) and the car I learned to drive on ( a Fiat 127, which in Brazil is the Fiat 147). Pretty cool. All the cars on the museum run, save for two or three, and her father often takes them out.
After I was done I returned to Christine at the front desk. She was engrossed watching the Formula One race, she says she watches every F1 and DTM race (definitely a motor head), and she had written down on a sheet of paper a bunch of dates and places for many important local car shows and small races, all the way to the end of September, which is the end of car season here in Germany. She also gave me a stack of brochures and local free magazines, and highlighted some stuff for me. Very cool.
Christine also mentioned that on any other day I would catch her father at the museum, but today he was down in Neumarkt in der Oberpfalz with a Jaguar from the museum, as there was a big classic car meet there. She said it was only 45 minutes away and I should check it out. I thanked her, picked up my stack of papers, left her to watch her F1 race, got on the Autobahn A3 and headed south toward Neumarkt.
Getting to Neumarkt I soon knew I was on the right place when there were a lot of rare cars on the road going towards downtown. It's not everyday you see a Messerschmitt KR200, a Steyr Puch Haflinger, and a Citroen Mehari just going down the road... I found where the show was being held, right at the center of town, and parked nearby. The roads leading to the show were blocked and guards at the entrance were letting only show cars and local's cars in. I walked in, saw a plethora of interesting cars, bikes, trikes, tractors, etc etc for show. Christine had said this show was for old cars only (what Germans call Oldtimers), but I saw a few Youngtimers, which are usually cars over 15 but less than 30 years old.
I found the organizer's tent, asked for someone who spoke English, and I got information about bringing my car next year. Apparently there is no entry fee for the participants, you just write your information and you car is registered! The organizers apparently charge the local businesses who make a killing on a busy day like this, so for car owners it is free. One of the organizers asked me what kind of car I had, I said a 1987 SAAB 900. He asked me where was the car, and I told him it was parked outside on the street. He then told me to just drive through and park with the rest of the show cars, they had no SAABs today and I would be representing the brand. I wouldn't be eligible for any of the many trophies and prizes they give out since I hand't registered, but I could at least show my car. So I brought my car in, parked it next to an old Benz, locked it and left to explore the show.
The coolest thing I saw on the show was a 1934 Royal Enfield motorcycle with a diesel engine. The guy found the bike in Chile, decrepit and rusted, but he had never seen a diesel powered bike before, so he bought it and shipped it to Germany to restore it. He said buying, shipping and restoring the bike was the easy part. The hard part was making it road legal in Germany. He took the bike to a few motorcycle inspectors near Nuremberg and Munich and no one would touch his bike, saying ti couldn't be made road legal since it did not have the original engine, but an engine made for a water pump. Then one day he found some guy who is a master inspector, who said that vehicle inspection rules in Germany date to 1938, when Hitler made the rules on which the current laws are based. But since this bike was made in 1934 it predates the rules and is therefore exempt from it! So he got his bike to pass inspection, and now he rides the only road legal diesel powered motorcycle in Germany. He says he rides it daily and has no problems at all, but gets lots of looks everywhere he goes with it. He says the bike is very hard to ride and brakes are terrible, but he takes it easy and goes slow, hasn't crashed yet!
Anyway, today was a very cool day and as usual I took lots and lots of pictures. Some of them will follow, I will post a link to the gallery with all of them later.