Places, Shows & Races

PLACE: A visit to the incredible Bettelbrünneli Documents Collection

The great thing about car community is, there is always a guy more crazy than you are. And from time to time, you just run into these people. This is the story on how i ended up in what is probably switzerlands biggest archive of Automotive related documents. Or as Marcel, the owner, says, “for everything with 3 or more wheels”. Welcome to the “Bettelbrünneli Collection“, which is named after a spring found next to it’s former location. But since then it has outgrown that place and moved to a new location. I didn’t expect too much when i walked towards a nondescript industrial building basically out in the nowhere, but boy was i wrong. This is Automotive literature heaven:

The place is super cozy, and privately owned. The DIY-shelves and location just add to the vibe. It’s more of a hangout rather than a library. But when there is not a pandemic-related lockdown, he has times when he opens it to the public to have a chat and flip through some of the documents. those times are usually communicated via an email newsletter.

He sells a lot of duplicate documents online and is currently trying to sort through all the stashes and put a lot of them online on his website. But he also admitted there is probably more coming in than he is able to sort through. I mean this is just a hobby besides his regular job but he spends a remarkable time there doing his work.

The amount uf stuff is just crazy. He’s not the typical hoarder, but a person very willing to help and share his incredible knowledge about any car brand you never heard off. Much of the stuff is also very well organized and listed in a database, sorted by brand or document type. And he told me there are plans to hand over big part of his Mazda literature collection (from one of the biggest former swiss mazda dealerships) to the Mazda Museum in Augsburg, which i think is great!

There are totally two rooms full of countless shelves full of any automotive printed document you can ever think off. Magazines, Catalogues, Press releases, books, Dealer documents, Microfiches, Technical documents, advertizing,… More than you ever can imagine.

We had a very nice chat, and flipped through some random documents just for giggles. Marcel also told me a bit of the story on how he ended up with many of the documents in his posession initially, before the collection somehow escalated (which is worth a blog post itself…)

The nice thing is, the collection doesn’t really have a focus. Any Automotive thing, from buses to army trucks, from weird industrial machines to race cars. You name it, he has it. From the old vehicles of yesteryear to brand new car catalogues straight from the dealership showrooms. It’s not even limited to switzerland, but you can find documents from all over the world.

Since i didn’t have enough time to read through the incredible stash of documents. he was nice enough to allow me to take home a few of the Datsun / Nissan related documents to scan them, before returning them to him. I don’t think it’s what is usually allowed, so i’m very thankful for the trust. since most of these documents in here are one-off information with a historical value. I will definitely post more about what’s inside those boxes. it’s basically the (very intertesting, and sometimes really hilarious) history of Datsun & Nissan Switzerland.

More coming soon! Shout out to Marcel again and make sure to put the Bettelbrünneli-collection on your Automotive bucket-list – it’s definitely worth it!

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