The French National Auto Museum (Cite de l'Automobile) is located in the city of Mulhouse in the eastern province of Alsace-Lorraine. Built around the core of the Schlumpf Collection, the National Auto Museum is an immense, incredible collection of almost 1,000 automobiles. It is well worth the trip. Also nearby is the National Railway Museum, with an equally impressive train collection. http://citedelautomobile.com/en/home
The story of the collection is fascinating. Swiss-Italian brothers Fritz and Hans Schlumpf established a small wool mill in Mulhouse in 1935. The business boomed in the post-war years and the brothers became extremely wealthy. Fritz had an obsessive passion for Bugattis and began to surreptitiously collect them, squirreling them away in a storehouse at the mill. The collection grew rapidly as did Fritz' obsession. He increasingly neglected the business, syphoning company funds to buy more cars and employing a full-time team of mechanics to restore and maintain them. To house the expanding collection Fritz commandeered more and more mill space. By 1976, the business was virtually bankrupt and, faced with massive tax bills, the Schlumpf's fled to Switzerland. The collection was seized and nationalised as the National Auto Museum. The core of the enormous collection is of course Fritz Schlumpf's 70 or so Bugattis, but it also includes the impressive collection of veteran cars. Here is a good article about the Schlumpf's history. http://www.sportscardigest.com/schlumpf-collection-profile-and-photo-gallery/?awt_l=KRan6&awt_m=IhPhHs52Yus.C0
The collection is so large and there are so many magnificent vehicles to display that I have broken this into multiple posts by era.
The Veteran Collection
The two oldest vehicles in the collection: the 1878 Jacquot tonneau steam car and the 1884 Delmare-Debouteville et Maladin.
1884 Delmare-Debouteville et Maladin. One of the very earliest petrol engined French motor cars. This is a replica built in 1984 to celebrate the centenary of its invention.
1893 Benz Victoria. This was the second generation of Benz vehicles.
1894 Benz Victoria.
1894 Peugeot vis-a-vis and a Panhard-Levassor
Early Panhard and Levassor cars. Panhard is not well know outside France but it is one of the oldest car companies in the world. They started building Daimler cars under license in the early 1890s and survive today as the manufacturer of specialist armoured cars.
1893 Peugeot Type 8 phaetonnet. The engine was a Panhard and Levassor built copy of the Daimler engine.
1902 De Dion Bouton Type 1 vis-a-vis (face to face).
De Dion-Bouton's first petrol-engined vehicle. The 1898 tricycle.
De Dion-Bouton vis-a-vis. The addition of the windscreen was hardly streamlining but with a top speed of only 20KPH or so performance would scarcely suffer.
1893 Bollee tricar.
1902 Serpollet. Another unusual French veteran.
1898 Clement-De Dion phaetonnet.
1894 Panhard and Levassor.
Two 1897 Benz cars. These represent the new generation of motor vehicles. The engine has moved from the rear to the front, with the driver. Steering is by steering wheel, rather than tiller.
1907 Piccolo 7hp laudaulet. A rare German veteran.
A row of veterans of Edwardian vintage.
Archetypical French veterans - the De Dion-Bouton