Horch street, Audi street, Trabant street: a quick glance at the map immediately reveals that this is all about cars - and not common ones at all! A Horch 303 fire engine from 1927, for instance, with Germany's first standard eight-cylinder unit under the bright red bonnet. Or a DKW F 1 built in 1931, whose front-wheel drive set a new technical benchmark. Even the Auto Union Silver Arrows that have been most successful in the 1930s are part of the collection. A total of 150 major exhibits are displayed by the August Horch Museum, from pre-war vintage cars to recent Volkswagen vehicles. Most of them were constructed exactly where they are showcased today: in the Saxon automotive centre Zwickau. The proper setting of the 6,500 square meter exhibition is the historical Audi plant from 1909 that carries its visitors off to a veritable time travel. They come to a petrol station of the late 1920s, stroll through a replica street scene, experience the working conditions in a still operative transmission workshop and curiously explore the former director’s villa. Film screenings, computer animations, simulators, models, and display boards contribute to making them familiar with the pioneering spirit and ingenuity of a more than 100-year automotive tradition.
Since the times of August Horch German cars are steered on the left, thanks to the pioneer Audi K vehicle from 1921. Other car manufacturers followed suit. Within a few years, the steering wheel changed sides all over the country. Innovation was the main focus when the Audi brand was started with the establishment of the A. Horch & Cie. factory in Zwickau in 1904. Five years later August Horch was forced to leave his own company, due to differences with the commercial management. But it took him a week only to start again just a few steps away. However, the old Horch plant immediately vetoed because the new company was named after August Horch as well. Thus ‘Horch’ became the Latin translation ‘Audi’ and Zwickau found itself home of two leading automobile manufacturers. Today, Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH is based here, with an output of vehicles and engines amounting to several millions. In the meantime, a lot has happened. Pioneering work made in Zwickau significantly leveraged the automotive technology, including, apart from left-hand driving, the introduction of the shaft drive or the four-wheel hydraulic brake. In 1932, the hitherto independent companies Audi, Horch, DKW and Wanderer merged to form the Auto Union AG, then the second-largest automotive group in Germany. The symbol of the four rings was born and later became the signet of the West German brand Audi, following the dismantling of the Auto Union in the wake of World War II. At Zwickau the VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke was established under GDR rule, setting up the workshops within the old Audi and Horch plant. The first of three million Trabant vehicles rolled off the production lines in 1957. In May 1990, right before the German reunification, a small motor show went public in the basement of an assembly hall from the founding years of the Audi plant. Thanks to a generous donation from the Audi corporation, it was completely redesigned in 2002 to 2004 and gained its present size in the years 2014 to 2017.
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Tuesday - Sunday 9.30am-5pm