Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Shanghai automobile museum

The number of museums this city houses is simply spectacular. Even a determined traveler could spend years to cover the breadth and depth. The more astonishing aspect is the variety of tastes the city can cater to. I was hence very surprised to find this hidden treasure - which I believe is the city's attempt to catchup with the Deutsch and Japanese titans.

Parking at Shimao Weifang rd..
Shanghai treats you with the best of automotive world in a very natural and seemingly organic way. I Initially thought: You don’t need a museum for cars here; if you want to meet the stars, we could stand at any intersection ( LuJiaZui, Jingan, Huaihai, or elsewhere), or:  take the elevator to the basement of any residential parking (Proof from our apartment inset). I was keen to find out what a museum could do - in a city where perhaps the streets had more to offer.

So off I went, like Alice - tumbling down the rabbithole. 

Getting here: (a) Cab - ~50 mins from Lujiazui or (b) Metro line 11- Anting road station (some 50 minutes from the business district) + 2 min cab/ 10 minute walk.

Cadillac M (1907

The beginning.. Respect your CTS - it has a rich heritage indeed.

Toyota Corolla - Nothing to say. Just thinking about the journey. From this to the becoming the largest selling automobile of the planet. Our family had one: Minus the boredom, it was one of the most dependable things that served us.

If you thought only the Rolls Royce of today's age looks classy; think again... You could walk around admiring this ancient but regal creature for hours.

The original Land Rover. Think of a modern day Discovery - Now we know why it is necessary to evolve, yet respect your heritage.

When Mr. Bond needs to quickly make a dash for Martinis.. The Aston Martin

Breathe… Say a silent prayer - the way you do before thinking of your God.. Good.. Now you may worship the two legends: 

The revolutionaries: The Ford Model T and the VW Beetle in the background 

American Muscle is a tricky area for me.. Not sure if I hate them or love them, but regardless of my religious beliefs, I have to bow to those three letters: GTO (Pontiac)

And then we have the flagbearer of American muscle - the Ford Mustang : in its original glory. Serving the American dream from 1964.... 

Now the God of three letters - BMW. This piece deserves more respect as it is one of the earlier one of that genre 'M'.  Proud to note that my friend Varun and his family have entered that relationship with an X4 - M recently.

Datsun 240 Z: This started the lineage of Z s - I maintain a personal bias here - The naturally aspirated Nissan 350 Z is one of the most exciting cars I have driven (from archives)

As I was wandering through this magical place, a thought occurred to me. I computed the probability of a friend and you- my dear reader - of trying to own these pieces. For all I know, you could (a) take the billionaire route or (b) the thievery route. Just in case you are planning a heist on this place, and would be kind enough to spare a car from your loot for your dear friend - I ought to submit my preference in advance.

Zhege (this one).. No no. Not the one on the left. The Lamborghini Countach - was indeed one of the most aerodynamic and aesthetically daring design in the history of automobile. While it has the naturally aspirated mid engine V12 mated to a perfect transmission, the Italian durability of those times scare me. Not the one on the extreme right either- the Honda NSX gets too much limelight and class. 

So if you do agree to purloin one for me - it'd be the one in the middle - the 8th generation Nissan Skyline please. Front engine, rear wheel drive - and the design discreet enough to bely the menacing intent of that 2.6 L twin turbo motor. This belongs to the right decade - where automotive engineering was still more about mechanics than electronics.

Other tips:
- The top floor houses a kids area. Kids of all ages could easily spend an hour here.
- Cafe serves decent stuff inside the museum, and a McDonalds at the entrance. For a wider variety, hit the Jiating Hui life mall near Anting road


  1. Sublime and engaging, your writings - as always. Kudos!

  2. Really bringing out your love for all things that go vroom.

  3. Thanks for the encouraging words. Means a lot - coming from both of you.. But alas; I'll be bombarding you more with my ramblings..

  4. Nice and interesting read!!! We could still make a novelist out of you!!

  5. Very interesting read even for a novice like me!!

  6. Interesting read๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

  7. It must have been so difficult for you to write such a meticulously detailed piece when your heart & mind was probably saying... holy smoke. Oh my god. Wow.

    So amazing to see the originals because it gives an idea of how much the cars have evolved over the years.

    I'd go with the Aston Martin!