10 Favorite Displays from Le Cité de l’Automobile

Picks from an amazing French collection that’s big on Bugatti

Bob Merliswriter, photographer

Situated in Mulhouse, France, Le Cité de l'Automobile houses upwards of 400 truly astounding cars on public display. The French national auto museum that sprang from a collection amassed by Hans and Fritz Schlumph that focused on Bugatti and other high-end classics.

The Schlumphs are long gone but the Bugattis, more than 100 of them, are still here—fitting, given that the museum is located a mere hour's drive away from Bugatti's hometown of Molsheim. These include three Type 41 Royales, one of which was built by the Schlumphs on an existing chassis with Bugatti spare parts. "The car of kings" weighs 7,000 pounds and is 21 feet long.

Apart from Bugatti, it houses one of the greatest aggregations of "Les Grandes Marques" under one roof that the world has ever seen. This includes an impressive number of pre-turn of the last century cars that underscore France's leading role in the origin of the automobile. French makes like Voisin, Panhand & Levessor, Delahaye, Delage, Renault, Talbot, De Dion-Bouton, Hotchkiss, and Citroën dominate, but other counties are represented as well. There are significant models from Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Isotta Fraschini, Maserati, Benz, Mercedes, Mercedes-Benz, Horch, Maybach, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Aston-Martin, Hispano-Suiza, and many more—both notable and obscure.

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