Porsche & Bad Wimpfen, Germany

Jason R. Matheson
6 min readApr 29, 2023

--

You can plan all you want but some things are out of your control. The weather is a good example. It was raining Friday morning and expected to continue all day (hey, it’s April). So I headed south for the Stuttgart suburb of Zuffenhausen and the Porsche Museum. A pretty nice consolation, right?

You parked under the museum which was convenient since you didn’t have to dodge the rain. Evidently plenty of Porsche folks had the same idea on this wet day because the lot was full of cars with tags from all over Europe. Honestly, I spent nearly an hour down in the parking garage just admiring the visitors’ vehicles before finally making it up to the museum.

It was interesting to see different eras of Porsches mixed together in the lot. I realized just how much bigger cars are generally now than they used to be. Below is a modern Porsche Boxster next to a 911 from the 1990s.

The Porsche museum sat across a massive roundabout from the factory in Zuffenhausen. The architecture itself communicated brand values from the futuristic lighting to the high-tech materials. Really, the cars themselves were the show.

An escalator whisked you to the top of the building and then you wound down several levels with the displayed vehicles taking you through the history of the brand.

Not many car manufacturers have the very first vehicle built wearing its name. The 1948 Porsche 356/1, below in silver, was the first real car created by Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche. While the body was an original design, most of the mechanicals were derived from the Volkswagen Beetle which Ferry’s father, Ferdinand Porsche, had designed.

One of the biggest strengths of the Porsche brand is that you recognized one when you saw one. The design has always been evolutionary from the very first prototype.

Plenty of technical exhibits emphasized this design continuity. In one interactive display, I could line up the front and rear of different eras of the 911. Again, you could clearly see how modern cars had grown larger.

On Saturday, it was still overcast but thankfully dry. This time I headed north along the Neckar river valley to another of my favorite German towns, Bad Wimpfen. Just the name earned it points. “Bad” is bath in German and towns that had this in their names were designated spa towns.

I’d been here before back in 2015. But those years in between were just a blip in the history of this ancient town. Around 98 A.D. the Romans established a defensive castella here including a wooden bridge crossing the Neckar river. A beam salvaged during excavation works in 1957 was proved to have originated from the old bridge.

Today, Bad Wimpfen sat peacefully overlooking the west bank of the river. Several towers, walls and stone buildings from the 1100s remained and I climbed the “blue tower” for an aerial view of the historic town. Bad Wimpfen survived World War II almost undamaged and was administered by the United States army following the partition of Germany by the Allies.

After all the hiking and climbing, I enjoyed a cappuccino and some streusel at a small cafe in the old town. Somehow, I avoided being covered in powdered sugar. Thankfully a big wind didn’t blow most of it into my lap.

It was relatively quiet this Saturday in Bad Wimpfen with no farmer’s market. It was the tourist shoulder season here in April so there were very few other non-Germans too. I took my time wandering down one twisty cobblestone lane after another.

I noticed the town’s eagle with an upturned key in its mouth decorating signs and monuments around many corners. This symbol from its coat of arms had been established since at least 1250.

After hiking back to the car, I drove on to another Neckar river town, Mosbach, and checked out a nearby castle in Neuenstein. The clouds had grown darker and a few drops chased me back to the car.

I’d wrapped up my time in Baden-Württemberg. I needed to eventually make my way back up to Copenhagen within the next week to return my rental car. I think I’ll head over to the Moselle river valley and hike around Burg Eltz, a castle I’ve wanted to see for some time. Somehow we missed it the last time we explored that area.

……….

Thanks for coming along on the trip. If you have questions or suggestions, tweet @JasonRMatheson. Missed an entry? Click here.

--

--

Jason R. Matheson

I prefer to travel slow. Enjoy history, design, architecture, cars, sports digital. Auburn alum, Sooner born.