The Schlumpf Automobile Collection, National Auto Museum of France
Big-scale car collectors are often described by adjectives such as consummate, eclectic, or discerning. In the case of the Schlumpf brothers, manic is the word you’re looking for. The Schlumpfs plundered the considerable fortunes of their Alsatian textile firms for decades to amass a private and for many years secret museum of over 500 vehicles. Best known for their obsession with Bugattis (122 models!), Fritz and Hans Schlumpf’s collection was known in its day as Europe’s most valuable.
Historically this book is noteworthy in that its three authors, all German motor journalists, were the first ever to do what many tried and all failed: to show in photos a complete inventory of the vast Mulhous collection at the time of the museum’s first brief opening in May 1977. In addition, the book describes the brothers’ backgounds and personalities and chronicles the hubris and vanity that culminated in L’affaire Schlumpf in detailed and unsensationalistic manner.
The book is tri-lingual (German, French, English) and the English version leaves one occasionally puzzled. The 150-page photo section is arranged alphabetically (Alfa Romeo to Zedel) and thus obviates the need for an index. In fact, the book itself could be thought of as an illustrated index to the Schlumpf Collection. All photos are captioned; some more, some less (year, model, coachwork, and brief engine specs). At the end two pages each are devoted to motorcycles, miscellaneous (bicycles, carts, sleds), and a floor plan of the exhibition space. Due to the fact that the museum is crowded and most cars are rigidly mounted on axle stands, camera angles and lighting are sometimes less than ideal.
First published in 1977 (ISBN-13: 978-0903192163) this last 1989 edition is still widely available; 480 photos of things you rarely see for under $20 ought to be a bargain in anyone’s book.
Copyright 2010, Charly Baumann (speedreaders.info).