Or you could call it by its real name – Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile di Torino – that way, when you’re wandering around the outskirts of Turin, Italy without a map trying to find the place, the Italian-only speaking locals won’t look at you with a blank stare when you ask for directions. Hint: get off at the Lingotto Metro stop and walk towards the river a few blocks. Turns out it’s not as difficult as I made it out to be.
A little bit of background: the car brand Fiat, which is huge in Europe but only sells the 500 minicar in the States, is an acronym for “Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino,” or in English, that’s “Italian Automobile Factory of Turin.” So Turin is quite well known for the auto industry and specifically the FIAT group, which started as far back as 1899 and includes Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Abarth, and parts of many more that would require more explanation than I have room here.
Skip ahead a few decades and enter the Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile di Torino – one of the world’s biggest and best automobile museums. After a complete restructure in 2011, the museum now hosts nearly 200 vehicles representing eight countries over 20,000 square feet over three rather large floors. The tour begins on the second floor (that’s the third floor for Americans) and starts with the very beginning of the automobile, from the earliest Fiats and Mercedes-Benzes and plenty of brands we’ve never heard of that catered to the wealthy to a 1904 Oldsmobile Curved Dash (first mass-produced vehicle ever built) and Ford Model T (first affordable mass-produced vehicle.)
Moving through the decades, and we see some of the earliest Ferraris, race cars, Rolls Royce, and a great display on the history of the internal combustion engines and evolution of the wheel and tire:
A 1941 Jeep sits on a special US military display and brings back memories of watching Hawkeye Pierce and Hotlips Houlihan going at it. The Jeep features a 2.2-liter, four-cylinder engine producing 60 hp:
Next to the Jeep, the Trabant has a cool display, showing the history of how terrible a car it was, but after the falling of the Berlin wall, becoming a bit of an icon:
I couldn’t finish this article without mentioning what is commonly regarded as one of the prettiest cars in the world: the Jaguar E-Type:
Next up is a cool section that allows people to sit in their own display and watch car commercials from the ’50s up until those of today:
They also have a large display showing race cars from the beginning all the way up to today:
Then we come across future cars and concepts, including some commentary on alternative fuel and waste:
And an awesome collection of rare concept cars:
And a concept F1 car called the Fioravanti LF1, which is not only gorgeous but is built using the new upcoming F1 regulations and features a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine:
And last but not least, one of my personal favorites, one of eight Ferrari F40 Competiziones:
Keep scrolling, and you’ll find a gallery of all the pictures I took while at the museum.
If you’re ever near Northern Italy, it’s more than worth it to stop by the Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile di Torino and spend a few hours looking around. It’s fascinating to see the history of the automobile from the very beginning into the future, all in one building over three floors.