20 Oct MUSEUM MEANDERS 3
As mentioned in a previous newsletter, following on from my attendance at the annual Schloss Dyck ‘Das Klassiker und Motorfestival’, two of my goals while in Europe was to visit the Abarth Museum situated near Antwerp (reported on in last month’s newsletter) and the Louwman Museum in The Hague. The Louwman hardly needs an introduction, boasting some of the best cars to be seen on the continent, yet even with such a glowing reputation I was still not prepared for what awaited me.
The museum is claimed to be the oldest and largest private collection of cars in the world. The interesting architecture was penned by the American Michael Graves, but this fine build fades to insignificance when you see the cars. One is led on a self-guided tour through a maze of corridors and rooms, each filled with some exceptional motor cars, memorabilia and art. I’m no writer and for me to try and explain in words the extent of what I saw would not do it full justice, but suffice to say it was the experience of a lifetime.
The Louwman collection was started by Pieter Louwman in 1934 and is still owned by the family in the guise of his son, Evert. There are just so many cars one could mention but what is remarkable is that there is such a variety of cars and so many one-offs. From cars built before the turn of the century to grand prix Ferraris, Maseratis, Bugattis and Group C Le Mans prototypes – the list is endless. However, the car that stood above all others for me during my visit was the 1903 four-wheel drive Dutch-built Spyker racer, which naturally carries pride of place in the museum as it has its very own room. No! It’s actually a pavilion… This was the first car to have a six-cylinder engine, four-wheel brakes, and not to mention the first petrol-engined four- wheel drive car ever made.
To try and mention each and every car and how impressive they all are would take up volumes. Everyone who has ever been to Louwman will know exactly what I’m trying to say. But for those of you who have not been, then a visit should make it your bucket list. And please don’t be fooled: photos and the Internet just cannot replace experiences such as being a few metres away from Taruffi’s 1948 Maserati or seeing your own reflection in the side of a 1937 Talbot Largo. At the end of this visit I was in total car overdose mode, and I must confess that when going through my 400+ photos when I got home I realised that there were cars behind cars that I didn’t even notice at the time. An afternoon is simply not enough time to visit this magnificent museum. You’ll need a full day – maybe even two. WH