As an enthusiastic car lover and a collector of Hot Wheels, I have longed to visit the Shanghai Auto Museum for a while. Following the hype of the recent 2016 antique car rally, Moving Legends, I made the pilgrimage to the holy land for Chinese car collectors – the Shanghai Auto Museum. Located in Anting, an hour’s drive away from Shanghai’s downtown area, the museum is China’s first dedicated auto museum. It was co-designed by the Architectural Design & the Research Institute of Tongji University and IFB from Germany and officially opened to the public in 2007.
I’ve been to most of the car museums in China and compared to the Changchun International Automotive Museum and Beijing Automobile Museum, the Shanghai Auto Museum was much more diverse and much more interesting. Many museums in China actually have this problem, where they might look spectacular from the outside, but once visitors are inside they will disappointingly discover a lack of noteworthy content. Being government owned, the Shanghai Auto Museum has outdone itself in so many ways. Being able to see the 1886 Benz Patent Motor Wagon, 1935 Rolls-Royce Phantom 2, and the Hongqi CA-72, which was used during the Chinese national day parade in 1959, all on display in one place made for an amazing experience.
The museum is divided into three pavilions: the History Pavilion, Antique Car Pavilion, and Exploration Pavilion, with a majority of the most interesting vehicles exhibited in the first two pavilions. The ticket costs 60 yuan and the museum has both Mandarin and English-speaking guides available. The first area is the History Pavilion, a space that houses a total of 27 cars, all of which represent milestones in automotive development. The guide told me the museum is continuously updating their collection, and by the next time I visit, there might be new additions to their collection. If you don’t know much about automotive history, this area offers a great learning opportunity. Besides the collection of rare vehicles, there are other points of interest in the History Pavilion, such as a wall that displays the changing gas prices over the last few decades and the speed records of some most famous racetracks around the world.
The Antique Car Pavilion houses the most amazing vintage car and model car collection in China. In this area, visitors can browse more than 200 model cars in different scales, with a majority of them made by the famous German model car manufacturer CMC. The main section has 40 cars from 20 different manufacturers dated between 1900 and 1970. Iconic Chinese two-wheelers are also on display in this area, such as the Phoenix 28 bicycles, Xingfu 250, as well as the Yangtze and Donghai 750 motorcycles; all of them are of course kept in pristine condition.
If you are a fan of American cars, you can spot the 1970 Pontiac GTO, 1957 Chrysler 300C, 1954 Chevrolet Corvette, and 1964 Ford Mustang. For Japanese car lovers, there is the 1967 Mazda Cosmo, 1970 Datsun (predecessor of Nissan) 240Z, and 1966 Toyota Corolla. German car enthusiasts will be happy to see the 1964 Porsche 356C, 1960 BMW Isetta and 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL. For fans of Italian or British cars, the 1967 Jaguar Type-E, 1951 Jaguar XK120, 1967 Alfa Romeo Giulia GTV, 1929 Bentley 4 1/2 Litre, among others are also on display. During the 2016 Moving Legends car rally, you could actually spot many of these vintage cars being driven through Shanghai. There was so much to see at the museum that spending just a single afternoon there didn’t feel like quite enough time.
如果你是美系粉，这里有1970年的庞蒂亚克GTO，1957年的克莱斯勒300C，1954年的雪佛兰科尔维特和1964年的福特野马等。日系粉们，能找到1967年的马自达科莫兹，1970年的达特桑（日产的前身）240Z和1966年的丰田花冠等。对德系粉有1964年的保时捷356C，1960年的宝马依赛塔，1955年的奔驰300SL等。当然了，喜欢意大利和英国车的人，这里也有1967年的捷豹E型，1951年的捷豹XK120，1967年的阿尔法罗密欧茱莉娅GTV，1929年的宾利4 1/2 升等等，定能让你大饱眼福，在2016的古董车拉力车期间，你还能在馆外看到很多古董车型飞驰在路上。
The Exploration Pavilion has an interactive movie theater, engine models, and some concept cars, which admittedly was not as exciting to me as the first two pavilions, but definitely still worth visiting. Also parked there are vintage Ferrari Mondials from different years. Visitors wondering where all the cars come from might be surprised to find out that most of the vintage cars were donated by American philanthropist Kenneth E. Behring. When you leave, there is a gift shop at the exit, which offers many beautiful model cars for interested consumers, including models made by local Chinese brand Almost Real and the famous German brand CMC.
All in all, any car enthusiast visiting the Shanghai Auto Museum will be impressed. No matter if you’re a model car collector like me or a fan of vintage cars, you can find something of interest at the museum. If you’re interested in seeing one of the most impressive collection of vintage cars in China, the Shanghai Auto Museum is definitely worth visiting.