Autoworld: discovering the amazing Belgian museum

As vintage car enthusiasts flock to Brussels for the Interclassics show this weekend, they are strongly advised to extend their stay to discover Autoworld. This car museum located in the heart of the Kingdom’s capital is worth the tour… see the tour in general!

Yes, we are not offering you a total discovery. We have talked about the Autworld museum many times, but often highlight the temporary exhibitions. This time, it’s a visit to everything around that we have to offer you.

A brief history of the Autoworld Museum

The museum is located in the Parc du Cinquantenaire in the east of the Belgian capital. Here the great halls of glass and steel were built for the Universal Exhibition of 1887. Later, the area was used extensively before becoming museums.

Autoworld was opened in 1986 at the initiative of Mahys. These renowned collectors displayed a small part of their collection (consisting of more than 1,000 cars) of restored vintage cars there. The museum has clearly been developed to offer new themed spaces and offers many temporary exhibitions for those who want to return without getting bored!

Now we are spinning.

The Ferrari exhibition

We’ll start with the temporary exhibition because, after all, it’s the first thing you see when entering Autoworld’s grand nave. It is dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Ferrari brand. You can see it until December 4.

We have the right to start and find 6 rare cars. The closest to us is the Ferrari Monza, a difficult one to approach. Then we chain the legends: F40, Dino 206 GT (ex-Eric Clapton, big fan of the brand), 500 Superfast, 330GT 2+2 and finally, the oldest Ferrari in the show, the 195 Inter with bodywork by Ghia.

On the other side of the main axis of the museum we can see other beauties. In order, we start with a 365 GTS/4, the rare convertible before moving on to another rarity, because it is unique, the Daytona NART Spider designed by Michelotti. On its side we find a more classic beauty, a 275 GTB “Alloy” followed by a 365 GTC 2+2.

that’s all ? Not allowed. Going up the central axis we see another unique model, the Ferrari Omologata, produced in 2020 based on the 812 Superfast. Behind you is a 355 Challenge, a Testarossa, then two cars packed like Bburago: a 308 GTSi and a 365 Daytona.

If you want more, no problem, they saved the best for last with five Ferrari 250s! We start with the GT Drogo, a car we’ve already seen on the circuit in Peter Auto races. We continue with a 250 GT LWB Berlinetta “Tour de France”, a California Spider LWB, a Coupe Series II and finally a GT Boon.

Done with Ferraris, let’s now move on to Autoworld’s classic collection.

Visiting Autoworld

It’s a rather atypical museum in the sense that there isn’t really any point in visiting. We walk by our feel and use the audioguide app. Of course, you can also do it silently as the panels are, admittedly, short, but relevant enough for everyone to understand, in French, Dutch and English.

The first part we visited was facing the Ferraris. These are old cars, ancestors in fact, that allow us to immerse ourselves in an era far from standardization. Thus, we discovered cars of different brands, obviously French because the hexagon was then the largest producer of cars in the world! Delage, Renault, Lorraine Dietrich, Rochet-Schneider, there are also some motorcycles of the period and really all different bodies.

This is an opportunity for the visitor to look at some details such as the odometer integrated into the wheel of the De Dion-Bouton DX, the mascots or the massive chassis and the magnificent engine of the Rolls Royce Silver Ghost.

We continue to one of the last open spaces in the Autoworld Museum, a space dedicated to cartoon cars. More specifically, we see here two cars that we can see in the Tintin albums. The first is Tintin’s Ford T in the Congo, the second is Tintin’s Red Jeep in the Land of Black Gold.

Autoworld Museum 114- Autoworld

Next to it are the oldest cars from the Autoworld Museum. Léon Bollée cart, Automoto M3, Tricycle Cudell, before falling to the more famous brands: De Dion-Bouton, Peugeot, Cadillac or Buick.

The visit continues with cars from the 20s and 30s that have gained in size but also in refinement. There are also brands known for Mercedes-Benz, Chevrolet, Bugatti, Rolls Royce and we must not forget the little Dixi (ancestor of BMWs) or the original Cord 812.

Another thing to remember: look up. As if on a shelf, a set of cars retraces the adventure of famous vintage cars. Renault 4, Cox, Mini or Trabant are shown at Autoworld.

We go back a few decades by attacking the end of the 1930s. In this new space we see a Derahaye 135, an Adler Trumpf (the first patent traction series Gregory), a BMW 326, an Olsdmobile F35C, a Chrysler Airflow and there are already several Belgian cars from the same period.

Small order dedicated to motorcycles and more specifically to Belgian motorcycles, Gillet, FN, Saréola, etc.

We continue with cars from World War II and then post-war cars. Easy to recognize Peugeot 403 and Simca Arondebut Autoworld surrounds them with more original motorcycles and cars (for a Frenchman anyway) like a Standard Vanguard, a Moskvitch Type 400 or a Tatra!

Our opportunity brings us in front of the big Americans. Prestigious cars, former royal cars in particular, and other more original, legendary and iconic cars are scrutinized. Originally, Autoworld was in front of these huge cubes that displayed a skewer of electric cars from all eras (with a big gap).

Did we forget something? Of course it is! Autworld does offer a large collection of Belgian cars. If we have forgotten the existence of these marks, they are simply too old. So we talk about FN, Minerva, Belga (license of Sizaire and Naudin) and let’s stop confusing the FN 1400 S whose body is silver plated and wood!

Now let’s go upstairs! If the mezzanine is not occupied by an exhibition (like the Alfa Romeo we show you here), there’s still a whole Autoworld tour to explore.

The Type E, Audi R8, Cadillac Eldorado face a multimedia space focused on place rather than cars. In addition to we will find a beautiful space dedicated to different but well-known cars, from Traction to Golf by Panhard Dynamic, an Avion-Voisin or a Delage-D8 120 bodied local by d’ Ethereal. Add the master wood used to build Facel II bodies or even an Alfa 6C and a Borward Isabella… we don’t know where to turn! There is also the Bugatti Type 57 with original bodywork or recent concept cars including the Lancia Hyena.

We then moved on to the Autoworld racing portion. The reconstructed stands include an Alpine M63 or a Porsche 550 Spyder. Opposite is an exhibition of cars that shine at Francorchamps (we don’t say Spa in Belgium) from the Peugeot 405 Touring Car to the Ford Capri through the BMW 3.0 CSL.

Another racing space, with cars 100% made for that, shows the 2008 Renault F1, a Jaguar Type D, a Bugatti Type 35, an Omega and a Renault before we discover another Belgian specialty: a single-seater with Valiant colors.

Then we continue the visit with pleasure cars from 60s to 80. The panorama is wide, mixed Matra Murena, Renault 5 Turbo, Lamborghini EspadaAlfa Romeo 2600 Sprint Zagato, Opel GT, Mercedes Pagode, but also some more famous cars like an R5 GTL, an Autobianchi A111 or a Daf 33. And I’m far from getting all the inventory!

And you know? When we went down the stairs, we were done! Sacred visitation!

What do I think about it?

Somewhat personal opinion: a sense of visit would be good. If it’s chronological, it’s even better! Otherwise, the museum collection is perfect. It is more varied and less “boring” than the main French museums (one in particular) and the explanations allow the uninitiated to find all the important information.

A recommended museum. Autoworld can be visited in 2-3 hours without rushing, a little more if you want to read everything.

Practical information

Cinquantenaire Park 11
1000 Brussels

schedule :
Monday to Friday: 10am-5pm
Weekends: 10am-6pm

Adult: 13€
Children (-11 years old): 6€
Seniors (+65): €11

Tickets and other information:

We’re leaving with one last series of photos from Autoworld, because “when there’s more, there’s more”!

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