Moving versions of art – Cars: Turin’s auto museum

The National Automobile Museum in Turin is perhaps one of the only museums in the world that reinforces the  thought that cars are just not machines. The museum goes a step beyond and highlights how cars are not just a medium of transportation, they are actually borne out of an artists imagination.

Vintage Collection

With a collection of more than 200 cars, your first brush with art comes from the vintage cars that the museum house. Some of the vintage cars of the museum date as old as 1892.

Fiat Mod HP: Driven by the founder of Fiat, Giovanni Agnelli, this car was one of the first of the various cars Fiat has produced up until now. There were 8 of these cars in the starting line of the first Giro d’Italian and all made it to the finishing line.
This car is the one surviving example of a model engineered by Florentia, a Florence factory running from 1903 to 1913 that produced its own cars , after which it manufactured cars under the Schneider licence. The car is a living example of the consolidation in the industry right from 1900s itself.
Prior to the 2nd world war, Packard was a leading maker of rich, aristocratic cars. Their style, engineering and elegance kept them in par with the limousines in Europe.
Called as Palombella, or little dove, this luxurious vehicle was made by Italy’s leading coachbuilder Cesare Dala of Milan. This was made for Queen Margaret of the Savoy family. The foldaway step ladder is worth noting for the evolution of car building from then to now


Moving beyond Vintage

But the museum is more than just a collection of vintage cars. The museum enlivens cars and transforms them into narrators of interesting stories of the 20th century. The Trabant is one such car.  Various murals, and events commemorating the collapse of the Berlin Wall, feature the Trabant as symbol of change.

Berlin Wall Trabant Graffiti is a popular mural iconizing the collapse of the wall.(Source Wikipedia)


The Trabant’s story is simple. A cute little car, the Trabant was the most popular vehicle in East Berlin. After the fall of the Berlin wall, when thousands of Trabants forged into West Germany, the car came to be regarded as a symbol of East Germany and the fall of the Eastern Bloc.


The Citroen 2 CV of 1948, on the other hand, given its small size became popular with people who distanced themselves from mainstream consumerism and showcased love of the environment. The Citroen 2 CV model of the museum is done up in a unique floral style which wonderfully depicts the car’s hippie story.


The E-type Jaguar tells its story of how it came to be regarded as the 1960s sex symbol.


My favourite section was the section on Italian cars. Italian cars in the 1960s were designed for the resurgent Italy that had been largely affected by the excesses of the Second World War. The cars were designed to be small so that they could easily parked in the centre of the city where commuting was particularly difficult.


My personal favourite was the Italian Vespa – that still today symbolizes the carefree charm of the Italian life.

Fast Forward: Hot Wheels

And last but not the least, the museum houses its collection of art – that remains the neighbour’s envy and owners pride – Italian sports cars, that stand as the emblem of art transformed into quick motion.

The Ferrari and the Maserati or rather the premium car segment today stands as the one of Italy’s major economic drivers. Limited competition, kept so given the stylistic designs by Italian car design houses like the Pininfarina are the reason for this.

Which is why I think – Italy is much more than just Venice or Rome. Turin’s Autogallery is a wonderful case in point.



And so, all in all, Turin’s auto gallery makes for a wonderful Sunday visit. It gives a great perspective of how the auto industry played an important role in the resurgence of Turin – the industrial capital of Italy. An absolute recommend – I hope you can enjoy as much as I did.

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