Schlumpf Collection – Profile and Photo Gallery

Then as now the museum included the largest collection of early motor carriages every assembled, including at least one that defied identification during the Schlumpf’s time.

French cars occupy a special place in the collection. Early Renaults stand in ordered lines, identified by their distinctive sloped hoods and cowl-mounted radiators. Other unusual early cars include the Baby Bugatti that later went into production as the Bebe Peugeot with little other than the distinctive horseshoe radiator changed, and a Peugeot Type 161 Torpedo with tandem seating for two. The popular Citroen Type C Torpedo from the 1920s is also well represented. The Type C was an early small car designed to appeal to women. Several incredibly well detailed versions of the Type C built for children stand nearby looking like so many puppies ready to play. Eccentrically French is the Scott Tricar built for transporting canons.

Other significant cars include a 1904 40hp Hermes-Simplex, one of the earliest designs young Ettore Buggati contributed to, remarkably similar to the Bugatti ‘Garros Type’ exhibited nearby with a clear bonnet displaying one of the first Bugatti engines. A 1912 Hispano-Suiza ‘Alfonso’, named for King Alfonso of Spain, was a gift from his wife. A short wheelbase Mercedes-Benz SSK, a model first designed by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche when he was Technical Director at Mercedes, as well as a rear engine Mercedes-Benz 170H also designed by Dr. Porsche and presaging the later Volkswagen Beetle. An S.S. 1 Saloon shows the elegant lines that later became familiar as the first Jaguars. Among Alfa Romeos represented is a unique 8C 2900 streamlined coupe from the 1936 Mille Miglia.

1904 Hermes-Simplex, Schlumpf Collection
1904 Hermes-Simplex
Bugatti Type 18 Garros - Schlumpf Collection
Bugatti Type 18 'Garros'

1929 Mercedes-Benz SSK, Schlumpf Collection
1929 Mercedes-Benz SSK
Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 Mille Miglia, Schlumpf Collection
Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 Mille Miglia

Beatty’s inglorious post-war history is represented as well. Ettore Bugatti never returned from his Paris exile to Molsheim. Control of the estate was lost during WWII and Ettore Bugatti died in Paris a month short of his 66th birthday. A single streamlined white Type 73 coupe in the museum is the remarkable last design drawn by Ettore Bugatti before his death.

Roland Bugatti, younger brother of the Jean Bugatti who was killed in a 1939 testing accident, attempted a revival of Bugatti in 1951 at the age of 25, aided by Marco Pierre whose loyalties stretched back to Ettore Bugatti and Molsheim. The project created the Bugatti Type 101, considered to be the last ‘true’ Bugatti. Eight Type 101s were built, several examples of which in different body styles are included in the museum.

1947 Bugatti Type 73A
1947 Bugatti Type 73A
1947 Bugatti Type 73A
1947 Bugatti Type 73A
Bugatti Type 101 Cabriolet
Bugatti Type 101 Cabriolet
Bugatti Type 101 Sedan
Bugatti Type 101 Sedan

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  1. Marvelous piece by Leigh Dorrington. Enjoyed learning about the Schlumpf brothers, ie the story behind the story. The only downside is that I have yet another addition to my bucket list of automotive to-dos.

  2. This collection sucks because it does not have a Bandini or Stanguellini, JUST KIDDING! I think I’d drop dead upon entering this shrine from heart failure. It looks like they have made many upgrades to the facilities since my Father first visited there in the 1980’s. This museum is my Mecca and I will visit there some day!

    1. Hey Cliff, Only an hour north is Molsheim and all the original Bugatti property, plus the fabulous glass atelier where the Veyrons are constructed. That is certainly worth a visit too. Permission to visit can be obtained from Julius Kruta, a charming, cosmopolitan young man who speaks several languages brilliantly. julius.kruta@bugatti.com

  3. Not far from the Cité de l’Automobile – National Museum – Schlumpf Collection is the French National Railway Museum. This museum is loaded with wonderful European trains. One WW1 era flat car has a large WW1 artillery piece mounted on its bed. Unfortunately it is adjustable for up/down only and not for left or right. I am no artillery expert but this does seem to present a few problems. Another museum in Mulhouse is the Wallpaper Design Museum. The museum illustrates the history of wallpaper. Don’t laugh there are enough interesting samples to make an interesting afternoon visit. The drive down through the Alsace region on the way to Mulhouse is one loaded with wonderful restaurants, wineries and Absinthe distilleries. All in all a wonderful place to spend a week.
    Enjoy.

  4. Great article.
    Has anyone ever tried to assess what their investment into this collection was and the possible collection value today?
    Truly astounding.

  5. Fascinating article, but what a shame the racers in particular are stuck in the museum and not out doing what they built for.

  6. Magnificent article. There are so many Bugattis in that museum that the most exotic becomes almost commonplace. I thought that Mulhouse was rather far off the usual tourist trails of France, but the journey from south to north over near the Swiss border leading to Strasbourg was magnificent. I bet Cliff Reuter will go out of his mind when he gets to this Mecca.

  7. Visited museum this summer, took the wife to Basel to see the paintings but the real art was in the Cite de Auto. I’ve never seen so many significant cars in one place. The shop at the end of the tour was filled with so many cool things we just don’t see here in america. If memory serves me right every winning bugatti from the pre war era was there. I became a big fan of Bugatti blue and will always remember my experience at Shlumph as the greatest day of my car guy existence. If Sunday morning at pebble beach is the zenith than this place is the Mecca of all car collections.

  8. Both thanks and kudos to Leigh Dorrington: until I can get there this is a fine substitute.

    I respectfully question Carig Zinn’s “if memory serves me right every winning bugatti from the pre war era was there”: did he mean that every *type* that won was represented, or that all the actual cars that won pre-war were present. If the latter, I respectfully disagree in that two winning Bugs belong to a friend and an acquaintance respectively.

    Still, I share with Craig a loyal affection to Bugatti blue, even though my personal taste runs to the cars across the English Channel.

    Thank you again, Leigh for a wonderful evocation of a distinguished collection.

  9. Interesting article. The Schlumpf collection ie really worth while visiting. The Schlumpf brothers are usually described as monsters but maybe they were not as bad as that. One can wonder who has done more harm, the Schlumpf brothers or the communist unions. After all they saved a lot of now valuable cars from the scrap yard with an investment that was not at all enormous. just look at the less than $100.000.- for the 30 Shakespire Bugattis and Shakespire even had to pay for the shipping.
    And then to a few corrections to the article: the recreation of the Esders Royale was begun by Schlumpf but only finished after the seizure by the French state. The body was built by Carosserie Lecocq in Paris. The illustration showing a blue car with the Coupé Napoleon in the background is not a T50 but a T57.

  10. Thank you for sharing an extreemly fascinating account of the Schlumpf brothers, there history & legascy,..and of course,there ‘world-renouned’ immpeccable collection of
    exotic vintage vehicles.I look forward to a visit.
    I enjoy ‘documenting historical’, rhedundant, rhetorical details on individual components and modifications to such,
    in such rare vintage vehicles regularly, with very private
    collectors,daily;Professionally & confidentially.
    Thanks for sharing. It’s always inspiring to all.
    Kurt Stoops SFGI./VAA.Inc.President,Senior Appraiser.USA.

  11. Greatly enjoyed both text and photos even though the information and the cars are familiar to me.
    A book about the Collection by Jenkinson and Verstappen mis-identifies the beautiful gas lights that stand along the aisles of cars. Your article states the obvious correction: the lights are based on those from the Pont Alexandra III in Paris, not Venetian lights. By the way: it’s redundant to say “bridge” after Pont Alexandre III.

  12. I have always been amazed by this collection…so large and such rare cars. Also the setting they created. Gravel beds-wonderful ides for leaks!
    Thanks for another great article.

    1. Cannot argue with your list, although for my tastes there are as good or better collections in the States…private though.

  13. I got to see the collection in 1985 as part of the Porsche club Treffen tour that year. It looks like they’ve really expanded the facility. My main memory was row after row of blue cars on gravel surfaces, and the light fixtures.

  14. not quite correct,Fritz Schlumpf DID see his beloved collection again.But only in a wheelchair many years later shortly before his death at the invitation of the new managemant.Arlette Schlumpf [his wife] eventually won her case for compensation for the theft of the collection.

    1. I did not dare to mention theft, but this is actually what it was. The fact that Arlette Schlumpf won the case and that Collection Schlumpf was added to the name of the museum is prrof enough.

  15. as a member of the Association Internationale des Amis du Musée National de l’Automobile de Mulhouse – Collection Schlumpf the article was very welcome. we not only support the Museum financially but also have on going projects to restore cars in the museum. we also work 4 saturdays in the year cleaning the cars. please have a look at our web site for more information. membership costs €40 per year and the member has unlimited free visits to the museum. http://www.amisdumusee.org . basically we are French and German speaking but any English speaking readers can contact me for further information. if you decide to join the club always wants to know who “brought” you to the club, so please give my name Lawrence Sufryn. my skype id is LEO68130

  16. It’s a real shame when you think the U.S.A had a similar collection of great cars ( including 2 Royales ) but when Mr Harrah passed away they were all sold off by Kruse , why wasn’t that collection kept intact as a National Treasure ?
    Even today when one comes up for sale the ad always reads “Ex Harrah”

  17. What a great article and story. One car that Fritz Schlumpf tried to buy in 1963 resides here in the USA at the Simeone Museum, Philadelphia, the 1936 Bugatti Type 57G “Tank” that won the 1937 Le Mans. This car is on display and runs on the 3 acre parking lot next to the building for the enjoyment of the museum visitors on demo days that are held once per month. Thank goodness this car stayed in the USA!!

  18. Correction to my post: There is a typo. It should read Pont Alexandre III, not ‘a’ at the end. Sorry.

  19. Totally mind bogeling collection but a pity never to see any out and about or better still on the race track. My Grand Uncle, Cuthbert Foster, was the origonal owner of one of the Bugatti Royales, which I think is in America. My father went in it once and told me it was massive, after his Hotchkiss engined Bullnosed Morris Cowley! Cuthbert was killed during the war. I seem to remember a tale about Briggs Cunningham obtaining two Royales, off a member of the Bugatti family, after WW2, in exchange for some fridges and freezers made by General Electric. True or false anyone?

  20. I was privliged to visit the museum in 1982; even though that was over 30 years ago, the images are seared into my mind. I also took many photos; in an attempt to portray the size of the Royale, I posed my girlfriend next to the car. I saw the lamp posts, walkways, and gravel pads. It looks like there’s been a significant upgrade to the museum, so a return visit is in order.

  21. One of my regrets is that I missed an opportunity to visit the collection in the mid 70s when it was really going through the changes and what you see now were just being formulated. I can well remember in the 60s up until the take over the stories that were floating about. Good article by the way

  22. I was a GI stationed near Heidelberg in 1953, and on returning from a trip to Paris, a rear spring broke on my rented Taunus. I went to the Ford place in Strasbourg to have it repaired and noticed they had for sale a type 57 Bugatti which I looked at even then with a sense of awe and desire. It was pristine and truly a beauty. When my wife and first visited the Schlumph museum in 1977, I found that car along with so many other Bugattis and mostly other French makes the brothers were so infatuated about. At that time the brothers had fled back to Switzerland and the museum was in the hands of the union. They allowed people into the museum after listening to about a half hour fiery harangue of the brothers by some of the workers. After they opened the gate, you simply walked in and browsed around, no guides, guards or any apparent observation. Many of the cars were partially covered with paper and very dusty.There was no electricity, so no lights, etc. After about two hours, they simply rounded up all the visitors and escorted people out of the building. As you left the place they had a small barrel you could toss in whatever donation you wanted to make to the union. As with the Harrah collecton in Reno, the collection is smaller and much more elegantly presented today. I have visited auto and air museums in several countries, and I am so grateful that so many are preserved with such care. As with children, I’d not choose one to be more valuable or beautiful than another.

    1. I visited the museum about the same time as you did. I recall the lengthy lecture before being allowed in. I also recall how dusty the cars were but the cars were never the less, awesome. I had an early copy of the Denis Jenkinson book about the collection but sadly it was lost sometime afterwards when I relocated from Scotland to Austalia. I also remember hearing an announcement being made referencing a Lancia and a Corvette. I didn’t understand it as I speak almost no French but as my Lancia was parked next to a Corvette I assumed I was the target of the announcement. My car was illegally parked and I was fined on the spot! Great memories.

  23. This is a beautiful article about a very strange story. At the time of the Museum Occupation I was a student in Freiburg/Germany, just over half an hour away. My friend and I heard about this before the Media even knew and we raced down to Mulhouse and somehow entered the Museum. What we saw was crazy, unreal, unbelievable. I made many photos and I remember many cars through this article. Great memories.
    I visited the Museum again around 2000. I had the feeling quite a few cars had gone. All my pictures are slides but digitizing them is on my bucket list.