Cite de l’Automobile, Schlumpf Collection

The Schlumpf Collection, in Mulhouse, France is one of the the most prestigious car collections in the world, and contains the most comprehensive collection of Bugattis to be found anywhere.

Brothers Fritz and Hans Schlumpf started the collection in the 1940s, storing the cars in the various textile mills they ran. In 1957 they purchased the Mulhouse woolen mill, now the site of the current museum, to store their growing collection. Unlike many enthusiasts who restored, maintained and ran their cars, the Schlumpf bothers were only interested in collecting as many Bugattis as possible for their own private viewing. Other than the brothers and a select number of mechanics who worked on the cars in secret, few were ever allowed to see the cars.

After a series of acrimonious strikes and confrontations, during which the brother fled to Switzerland, disgruntled mill employees in broke into the storage area on the 7th March 1977 and discovered the collection. The sheer size of the collection was staggering; there were 247 cars in the ‘museum’ that Fritz and Hans had created and another 150 were subsequently found stored in workshops. What was more amazing was the variety and rarity of the collection, including two of the six Bugatti Royales and no less than 22 Type 57s.

In addition to Bugattis, other marques included Rolls Royce, Mercedes-Benz, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Maserati and Ferrari, plus many French marques such as Peugeot, Renault, Panhard-Levassor, De Dion and Citroen.

With the textile mills placed into receivership, and arrest warrants issued for the brothers on charges of embezzlement, the museum was seized by the French Government, along with all their other assets. Today, the museum is known as the Cite de l’Automobile.