A New Kind Of Auto Destination
During a recent trip to Germany, I was invited to tour Motorworld, a new type of auto facility that is developing across Europe and might be heading west if the owners can find the right partners and property.
The facility I visited is housed at an old, World War I military airfield in Böeblingen, near Stuttgart also home to the Mercedes and Porsche museums so well worth a visit. The airfield opened in 1915 as a training facility with runways, hangars, and other facilities. At the end of the war, the airfield was shuttered until the 1920s when flying schools used it unofficially. In 1925 it became the state airport and commercial aircraft used it initiating the construction of a hotel, restaurant, customs, and baggage handling. With eight daily flights, passengers could fly to Zurich, Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, and Switzerland. In 1929, the world-famous Graf Zeppelin airship landed at Böeblingen, in front of a crowd of 100,000. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Böeblingen boomed with the opening of the German Aviation Museum and a Lufthansa airmail route to South America. However, the war was looming and Böeblingen reverted to a pilot training school.
After the Second World War, the U.S. took over the airport and used it as a repair facility for Army vehicles. The various buildings were used as offices and storage until 1992 when the U.S. Army vacated the premises. It then stood vacant for more than a decade until 2008 when construction began on Motorworld. Images on their website: www.motorworld.de/en/portfolio_page/historie/ show some pretty derelict buildings. Nevertheless, Motorworld, the vision of Andreas Duenkel, a major real estate developer and petrol head, opened in 2009 and I have to say the place is impressive. Not only had Andreas and his partners salvaged and restored a historic site but he’d built an amazing destination for auto enthusiasts from around the world.
At the entrance to the 540,000 sq. ft. Motorworld facility is a huge 7-story cylindrical tower announcing your arrival. Below is a Harley dealer and the Tower 66 Steakhouse and Bar. Across the way, there is a Porsche facility. Interestingly, some young auto-paparazzi stood on the corner photographing all of the supercars that buzzed around them like flies.
Across the street and facing the old airfield that is now an extensive show field, are all the original buildings refurbished to house an impressive array of facilities: Restaurants, meeting rooms and spaces, retail shops, restoration shops, classic car dealers and even glass-walled storage units for your classic or supercar. The retail tenants include the official representation for Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Bentley, Maserati, and Lotus, as well as several large classic car dealers and clothing and lifestyle shops.
Indeed, a McLaren GT was just parked in the hallway alongside the 56 double-stacked, climate-controlled car storage units where well-heeled patrons can keep their prized possessions. The structure houses the usual array of Ferrari, Porsche, and Mercedes as well as other supercars of similar ilk.