Places, Shows & Races

PLACES: A visit to the Swiss Car Register in Safenwil

Yesterday i had the chance to visit the Swiss Car Register in Safenwil. It’s located in an old beautifully restored textile mill on the same premises of the Emil Frey Classics museum but not related directly.

So what is the Swiss classic car Register? It’s basically a library of the rich swiss coachbuilding history and automotive history.

You will find everything related to cars and transportation.
– Drawings, specifications and technical documentation of swiss coachbuilders
– Old magazines
– Microfiches, glass-negatives, etc.
– Parts, owners and service manuals
– General information about brands, designers and international coachbuilders
– Books about the wealthy people who owned those cars
– Books and press releases from all the major motor shows (Geneva, Paris, Frankfurt, London, …)
– Generall swiss car indexes, number plate indexes
– Technical books about metal specification and Paint buildups used in old car manufacturing.
– Samples of old leathers, fabrics, and other materials.
– Race car details
– Diecast car collection of very rare models and prototypes
– Old law-books of automotive law and Traffic regulations
– Random coachbuilding apprentice exam works
– and much, much more.

Along that, you will find random memorabilia from yesteryear like running (Müller-)Martini Engine,

a lot of badges from swiss coachbuilders, Automotive sketches by famous designers, and stuff donated by famous collectors and celibrities. They’re also partners of the Verkehrshaus in Lucerne (the excellent swiss museum of transportation), where they regularly organize exhibition parts and parts.

Pininfarina signed Prints and original drawings is just one of many very valuable and rare parts they have:

It’s and incredible collection for anybody to find out details about any historic relevant car. From a special hydrogen driven hatchback, to autonomous driving cars in the 70ies to your one-off Delaheye, to swiss coachbuilt “Sharkfin” Postal Busses.
Here are some exmaples of a Nissan Shatai factory brochure (they had one of the oppama plant and most other nissan factories as well) and a fairlady roaster SPL311 parts manual:

If you want to know anything about a special rare car, who built it, how it was built, when it was built, etc. You’ll find it here. But bring some time, because there is a building on four levels full of printed documents. And the information will be spread in many different (albeuit well organized) locations. some of the stuff is from the very beginning of automotive history as you can tell by the paper used and the handwritings:

There are drawers full of original blueprents of swiss and international coachbuilders. Here’s an example for a wood dolly. Required to build a body over it:

The owners and curators can be counted to the who-is-who of the rare-car scene. The guide of our day, Urs, regularly goes to the major global concours d’elegance to pick cars for local shows and also selects some of the cars for the Villa d’Este concours d’elegance. He has organized some of those events (Klausen pass historic hillclimb race, etc.) been in the Jury of those big events and knows everything and anyone related to designing, building and owning these cars. He’s even related to one of the big swiss coachbuilders of yesteryears and collected all their stuff. Fun fact. His family was also once a Datsun dealer.

During the time of our visit, also another colleague of them showed up, to check some details of Swiss historic vehicle Federation SHVI FIVA Identity card.  If you don’t know. the FIVA is an international identity card for valuable and historic cars. You can apply for it. an expert will check the authenticity of your car (in locations like this archive!) and then give it a rating. The rating does not rate the quality of the build, or the quality of the car in it’s current state, but it rates the originality. Has it been modified in the past, later, is it all original, unrestored, are serial numbers correct, have modifications been made later and are they safety related, or other modifications? With this FIVA ID, buyers and sellers in this very high-priced segment (but also for your average VW Golf 1) have the possibilitly to have an approval from an expert about the authenticity of a car, which has an influence on the value. See here. Anybody can apply for such an ID if you have a special or historic car.
The swiss Car register is also the home of all swiss original FIVA application forms where they are collected and stored, if a buyer or seller needs proof that their car is authentic.

At the same time in the building next to it, there was a gathering of switzerland oldes car veteran club, the SMVC
Then, another expert showed up to research something about a few cars. The regular visitor showed up in a beautiful and rare Czech made Tatra:

You see, if you go there, bring a lot of time and you will be soaked into the world of the rich and famous and their extraordniary cars from the past until today, but will also find a lot of information about your regular daily commutir, technology and transportation in general. It’s absolutely worth a visit. and if you bring enough time, make sure to combine it with the Emil Frey Classics car center museum visit (Emil frey is the importer of Toyota, Land rover, Jaguar and other brands) next door. The exhibition there is varying, but you can find anything from a Group B toyota Celica, a 2000GT, but also Winston churchill’s Landrover, or a perfect replica of a Jaguar E-type leightweight.

Special Thanks to Dome and his family for setting up the appointment for this and of course to Urs, Stefan and their collagues to show us around and chat about cars and answer our questeions. I will definitely come back to research some details.

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