Motorworld: Heaven On Earth For Automotive Enthusiasts

Images: Gautam Sen

What do you do when you have these huge hangars where locomotives used to be repaired, and which are not operational anymore? In India, or elsewhere in Asia, you would knock it down and build multistorey monstrosities instead. In Germany they convert them into an exciting world of and for the automobile.

Motorworld_Automotive Wonderworld_01
With a large Motorworld sign across the top of the entrance, you can’t quite miss it

Munich’s Motorworld is an incredibly cool concept: an abandoned industrial space, converted exclusively for car, bike and motorsports enthusiasts. If you happen to be in Munich, the BMW Museum has always been a must-visit.

Motorworld_Automotive Wonderworld_02
Lo and behold… the front bonnet panel of a Tata truck greets visitors right at the entry

But now there is another amazing automotive wunderwelt (German to mean wonderworld), where you get to see and experience premium showrooms, concept spaces, car-themed restaurants and dozens of rare automobiles, some genuinely unique.

Motorworld_Automotive Wonderworld_03
A really colourful VW Omnibus, with a trailer, marks the start of the visit

With a covered area of some 20,000-odd square metres, the locomotive hall, from the outside, is indistinguishable…except for the large letter announcing Motorworld above the entrance.

Motorworld_Automotive Wonderworld_04
‘Be the motor, change the world’ is the slogan above a beautifully restored 1953 Lincoln Cosmopolitan Coupe Hardtop, which is just ahead of another American icon, a Kenworth truck

Inside, however, you enter a different world: on the ground floor, modern offices with large window fronts are lined up in eight blocks next to cafes and restaurants. In between, various boutiques, such as a hat maker, a florist or a coffee roastery are there to separate you and your money.

Motorworld_Automotive Wonderworld_05
The glass boxes where you can park your precious metal; here we see a VW Golf next to a pair of Porsches, with a Mercedes-Benz SL above it

It's a bit like walking into an American mall, but much more exciting, as there are cars and cars and cars and a few motorcycles at every corner—historic, classy, ​​sporty, barn finds, the works. Among other things, visitors can admire Muhammad Ali's first luxury car and Elvis Presley's restored BMW (apparently), although yours truly didn’t get to see them when he was visiting last November.

Motorworld_Automotive Wonderworld_06
Another beautifully restored car on display: a Rolls-Royce Corniche

The modern interior also shows traces of the old locomotive hall. The outer facade, the roof and the girders have been retained, and at the back you can see an old crane that used to transport the locomotives.

Motorworld_Automotive Wonderworld_07
An unrestored Mercedes-Benz 190 SL on display at the Arthur Bechtel showroom

“It was important to us to preserve the historical background of the building,” explains one of the staff, adding that “an old locomotive transfer platform has also been preserved. We use these to display special vehicles.”

Motorworld_Automotive Wonderworld_08
And here are some of the beautifully restored cars, also on display at the Arthur Bechtel showroom, waiting for customers to pick them up

Next to the entrance there is hotel, with 156 rooms. Three of these rooms are ‘bike and car studios’, where you can park your vehicle directly in the ‘living room’. This concept has apparently been extremely popular with several enthusiasts.

Motorworld_Automotive Wonderworld_09
One of the several boutiques selling all kinds of things, with engine parts as part of the display

In the rear section of ​​the hall there are as many as 22 conference rooms, as well as a ‘Steam Dome’—an event hall that can accommodate up to 2,400 people. The most special feature though are the 120 glass boxes, where historic and sports car owners can store their automotive treasures.

Motorworld_Automotive Wonderworld_10
An unrestored BMW 501, popularly known as the ‘baroque angel, on display

Stacked over four floors, the cars are visible to visitors but accessible to the owners any time they wish to take it away for an event or for the weekend.

Motorworld_Automotive Wonderworld_11
The Automobilist has on offer a range of automobilia, paintings and prints; cars on display are a Fiat and Mercedes-Benz

At the same time, the cars on display keep getting rotated. Talking to the owners, I understood that this was one of the charms of the concept, the fact that every time you visit Motorworld you have something new to see.

Motorworld_Automotive Wonderworld_12
Another of the Benz Paten Wagon replicas, in all probability made in Coimbatore…

Moreover, if you are passionate about art, collectibles, and automobilia, there are several boutiques specialising in posters, magazines, models cars and racing souvenirs, some even signed by drivers such as Michael Schumacher or Ayrton Senna.

Motorworld_Automotive Wonderworld_13
A delightful combination of a Citroen 2CV and a matching camper trailer

With costs totalling over €200 million (Rs 1,700 crores), Motorworld is one ambitious project.

Motorworld_Automotive Wonderworld_14
Chevrolet pick-up with a bike, trailering another bike-on-trailer

But with showrooms for more than two dozen brands, including the likes of Bugatti and McLaren, and with most of the glass boxes taken (plus a thriving club scene), Motorworld seems to be on its way to becoming a concept worth emulating elsewhere.

Gautam Sen

Serial concours judge, author, founder-editor of several Indian auto mags, as well as co-conspirator with design greats Marcello Gandini, Tom Tjaarda, and Gérard Godfroy on a few vehicle projects


Sign in or become a deRivaz & Ives member to join the conversation.
Just enter your email below to get a log in link.