Automobile Museum

Automobile Welt Eisenach
Friedrich-Naumann-Straße 10
99817 Eisenach
Fon: +49 (0)3691 7 72 12

The Automobile Museum was founded in 1967. It moved to its new home in June 2005. The exhibition called "Automobile Welt Eisenach" traces Eisenach's history of car manufacturing, which goes back over a hundred years. Vehicles on display range from a Wartburg made in 1899 to a Wartburg 1.3. The collection's sports vehicles, prototypes and special editions are shown in an exciting exhibition which leads through over a century of automobile history.


Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday 11am to 5pm

(Closed on Mondays)



Admission prices


Adults:                                                              5,00 Euro
Concessions:                                                      3,50 Euro
Children up to 12 years:                                       free
Children over 12 yaers:                                        3,50 Euro
Family ticket (2 adults, two children to 16 yaers):  10,00 Euro
Groups of 10 or more, per person:                         4,00 Euro
School groups of 10 or more, per person:               2,00 Euro



Travel information: take the B7/B84 (Rennbahn) to the main gate of the former car factory (AWE). The museum is 100 meters behind the gate on the left hand. On-street parking nearby.

The museum

In 1998, to mark the centenary of car manufacturing in Eisenach, initial preparations began for Eisenach Automobile World. Automobile World is being designed as a presentation of the fascinating progress in mobility and technology since the invention of the motor car. The exhibition in the original O2 factory building, which dates from 1935, will look at both the history of car manufacturing in Eisenach from a technological angle and at the wider cultural and sociological implications of motor vehicles, including their human and environmental repercussions. Eisenach Automobile World is still in development.

Over 100 years of car manufacturing in Eisenach

It is more than a century since the first car was built in Eisenach. That event marked the start of a tradition that continues today and still plays a major role in the economic fortunes of the town. It was a proud moment when Eisenach celebrated its centenary with the slogan "100 years of car manufacturing in Eisenach" in 1998.
The Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach AG factory was founded in 1896 by industrialist Heinrich Ehrhardt (1840-1928). During the early days, it manufactured cycles and military vehicles, for transporting munitions and horse feed, for example. 1898 marked the start of production of Wartburg cars, and the Eisenach car factory became the third car manufacturer in Germany after Daimler in Cannstatt and Benz in Mannheim - although Wartburg cars were still rather reminiscent of horse-drawn carriages. In addition to its range of cars, the Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach AG also produced motor bicycles andtricycles, small buses, fire engines, electric cabs, vans and trucks.
Over time however, these vehicles - all built under French licence - failed to deliver the commercial success anticipated, although Wartburg cars won 24 gold medals/first prizes in road races and on long-distance tours, and even the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach was interested in them. The company's dissatisfied shareholders finally persuaded Ehrhardt to step down as chairman, and he left Eisenach in 1903 together with his various patents and licences.
After 1904, the Eisenach car factory began developing and producing its own cars - Dixis. New overseas export opportunities were also secured.
The outbreak of war in August 1914 brought sweeping changes to the factory's production programme. Military trucks for the German army, ambulances, field and fortress artillery and other materials of war were produced instead of cars.
But when the first world war was over, production of the pre-war Dixi models began again. In 1921, the Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach AG was merged with the Gothaer Waggonfabrik AG, which meant a loss of autonomy for the Eisenach plant. The centaur was adopted as the new company badge adorning the front of all Dixi cars. By 1927, 26 models of car and 17 different trucks and buses had been produced.
But spiralling inflation and increased competition both at home and abroad led to financial difficulties at the factory. Its fortunes took a turn for the better when, in 1927, the Austin Motor Co. of Birmingham granted it the licence to build the Austin Seven - the most successful small British car of its day. During this era, manufacturing processes started being tailored to the new requirements of industrial production,
and cars began to establish themselves in modern society's consciousness. With its new product - the Dixi 3/15 (DA1), the German version of the Austin Seven - Eisenach car factory was poised to take advantage of this development in society.
But the Gothaer Waggonfabrik AG again succumbed to the economic turbulence of the day. In November 1928, Eisenach's Dixi factory was taken over by BMW of Munich. In 1929, BMW underlined their reputation for high-quality, dynamic, sporty vehicles with victory in the German Automobile Association's Empire and Alpine Race. During the 1930s, the commercial success of Eisenach BMWs was assured both in Germany and abroad by BMW's 6-cylinder cars and their motorsport prowess - the 328, for instance, was virtually unbeatable.
The Eisenach factory continued making civilian BMWs until 1941, but during the second world war, it also produced armaments such as the PAK 38 anti-tank gun. In 1942, BMW transferred its entire stock of motorcycle spare parts and production of the R75 motorcycle - developed for the army - from Munich to Eisenach. The R75 was produced in Eisenach until 1944. In 1945, many famous European car factories lay in ruins. The Eisenach factory was also badly damaged. However, it escaped the Allied order for German industrial companies to be dismantled. Production - of the BMW 321 and the R35 motorcycle - resumed at the Eisenach factory under the Soviets as early as November 1945.
In September 1946, the factory became part of the Soviet state company Awtowelo. In 1949, the BMW 340, developed from the BMW 326, was exhibited by (SAG) Awtowelo Werk BMW Eisenach at the Leipzig Fair. The division of Germany and the founding of the two German states after the war led to a new direction for what was now the state-owned Eisenach car factory. In 1952, the blue and white BMW badge was replaced with a red and white EMW (Eisenacher Motoren Werke) badge - in Thuringia's colours - and the company was renamed VEB IFA Automobilfabrik EMW Eisenach.
In 1955, the EMW factory changed its name to VEB Automobilwerk Eisenach. That year also marked the end of Eisenach's production of 6-cylinder limousines. In 1953, production of the IFA F9 was transferred to Eisenach from Zwickau, marking the start of the two-stroke engine era.
In 1956, the Wartburg 311 made its debut, the car that was to symbolise Eisenach car manufacturing until 1991. By 1965, there had been eleven versions of the Wartburg 311, and it had been exported to over 50 countries. After 1966, the Wartburg 353 - after 1975, the 353W - went into mass production. By 1988, 1,224,662 of these vehicles had come off the VEB AWE assembly line.
In the early 1980s, Volkswagen AG took over the production of the Alpha engine series - for Wartburg and Trabant cars - in the former East Germany. In 1988, the Wartburg 1.3 was unveiled - with its long-overdue four-stroke engine. Politically and ideologically motivated industrial development in post-war East Germany was responsible for missed opportunities in the motor vehicle industry. But the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked a turning point for Eisenach's car industry. The last Wartburg came off the production line in 1991 and the company moved out of its old factory on Rennbahn after more than 90 years.
In 1991-92, a new car factory was built in west Eisenach by Adam Opel AG. It is one of the most modern car production plants in Europe. Now, with Adam Opel AG established in Eisenach and with the return of BMW AG - at their new vehicle technology plant at Krauthausen - the long tradition of car manufacturing "at the foot of Wartburg Castle" is set to continue.


History of vehicle production in Eisenach

(selected models)

cars Motorcycles Year manufactured Model 1898 - 1900 Wartburg 1907 - 1913 Dixi R 8 1927 - 1929 Dixi 3/ 15 (DA 1) 1929 - 1931 BMW 3/ 15 (DA 2) 1933 - 1934 BMW 303 1934 - 1936 BMW 309 1934 - 1937 BMW 315 1935 - 1937 BMW 319 1936 - 1941 BMW 326 1936 - 1941 BMW 327 1937 - 1939 BMW 321 1945 - 1949 BMW 321 1949 - 1955 BMW/ EMW 340 1950 - 1955 BMW/ EMW 327 1953 - 1956 IFA F 9 1956 - 1965 Wartburg 311 1966 - 1975 Wartburg 353 1975 - 1988 Wartburg 353 W 1988 - 1991 Wartburg 1,3 seit 1991 Opel Vectra Opel Corsa Opel Astra year manufactured model 1942 - 1944 BMW R 75 1945 - 1955 BMW / EMW R 35

Contact and further information:
automobile world eisenach
Friedrich-Naumann-Straße 10
99817 Eisenach
Tel. +49 (0)3691 77212