2008 Melbourne Motor Show
2008 Melbourne
Motor Show

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OF 2007

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Elvis Festival
Elvis Festival

“Power and Splendour – Carriages for State Occasions”
in the Audi museum mobile



12th March, 2008

Charles de Gaulle in his Horch 830 BL

  • Audi Tradition opens a new special exhibition “Power and Splendour – Carriages for State Occasions” in the Audi museum mobile
  • Eleven cars in which monarchs and heads of state once rode

Starting today, the Audi museum mobile is holding a special exhibition entitled “Power and Splendour – Carriages for State Occasions”. It consists of a cavalcade of eleven vehicles such as have never before been gathered together at one place in Germany until now. Audi Tradition has not restricted its choice to products from the company’s own history. Two undoubted highlights of the display are the cars used by the main protagonists of the Cold War: the heavily armoured ZIL 111 G in which Nikita Khrushchev rode and a Lincoln Continental in which John F. Kennedy is said to have been chauffeured.

The exhibition spans a period from antiquity to the present day. Ever since the invention of the wheel, kings and princes, presidents and other potentates have used carriages, coaches and later the automobile not only as transport but also to impress the people. These vehicles were chosen to emphasise or even exaggerate the owner’s status and to inspire respect bordering on veneration. The oldest goes back as far as the Bronze Age and is a replica of the Sun Wagon of Trundholm.

Visitors will learn that clearly defined preconditions had to be satisfied when a victorious Roman general rode triumphantly in his chariot through the cheering populace on his way to the Emperor’s palace. In the baroque period princes paraded their elevated status before the public in gilded carriages to imply their divine right to rule. Earlier, in the Middle Ages, the greatest leaders rode on horseback and only the peasants went about their affairs in primitive carts.

The exhibition concentrates, however, on the motor car. Audi’s history has contributed three examples used by heads of state. Gerhard Schröder was the first German Chancellor to choose a car bearing the four-ring emblem for his official transport: an armoured Audi A8. But before the Second World War one of the makes that preceded Audi, namely the Horch, was popular in a number of countries. Visitors can see the Horch 400 dating from 1930 in which King Haakon VII of Norway rode, and also a Horch 830 BL with a very special history. French President Charles de Gaulle, when performing his duties as an army general after the Second World War, used this German car for almost ten years, including on many official occasions.

The means of transport favoured by heads of state associated with the Cold War are bound to arouse keen interest. A French museum has made the Lincoln Continental in which former US President John F. Kennedy is said to have been chauffeured available to Audi Tradition. Another unusual exhibit is normally on display at the Motor Museum in Riga, which even before the end of the Soviet era was able to rescue the official transport of Nikita Khrushchev from the scrap yard: it is a heavily armoured ZIL 111 G with a strong hint of American styling. A further motor car from the same period comes from England: the Rolls Royce Phantom VI in which Queen Elizabeth II travelled during a state visit to Switzerland in 1980. A unique exhibit from the collection maintained by the Spanish Seat company is the ‘Popemobile’ specially built by Seat for Pope John Paul II in 1982 to drive past the assembled congregation when he celebrated Mass in the FC Barcelona soccer stadium, Camp Nou. The exhibition in the Audi museum mobile will include this Seat Marbella ‘Papamovil’, which only saw service on this single occasion.

At the beginning of the exhibition, Audi Tradition pays tribute to the coachbuilder’s craft. The aristocratic German house of Thurn und Taxis has loaned a gala coach intended to be pulled by two horses, and built in the second half of the nineteenth century purely for use on great occasions. It is owned by Her Imperial and Royal Highness Margarete von Thurn und Taxis, who was a great-granddaughter of Empress Maria Theresia and was married to Price Albert of Thurn und Taxis, son of Princess Helene and nephew of Empress Elizabeth (‘Sissi’) of Austria. The Habsburg has made two vehicles available: the first is the ‘Emperor’s car’ used by Austro-Hungarian emperor Franz Josef in 1910 – an Austro Daimler like the second, a 28/32 hp model built two years earlier for His Imperial Highness Archduke Franz Salvator, the commander-in-chief of the Austrian military forces during the First World War. The final vehicle in this parade of vehicles used by heads of state is a Mercedes 600, also loaned by the Thurn und Taxis family.

The four rings of the Audi badge symbolise the brands Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer, which were later combined under the umbrella of Auto Union. Auto Union and NSU, which merged in 1969, made many significant contributions towards the development of the car. AUDI AG was formed from Audi NSU Auto Union AG in 1985. Together with the two traditional companies Auto Union GmbH and NSU GmbH, Audi Tradition nurtures and presents the deep and diverse history of Audi. The Audi museum mobile at the Audi Forum Ingolstadt is open daily from Monday to Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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