The Collection Schlumpf – Mulhouse, Francie

Cité de l’Automobile, Musée national de l’automobile, Collection Schlumpf je fascinující automobilové muzeum na francouzsko německé hranici ve městě Mulhouse.Unikátní a výjimečná sbírka vznikla díky obětavosti švýcarského průmyslníka Fritze Schlumpfa (1906-1992), jehož jméno muzeum v podtitulku nese. 

Doslova stovky a stovky aut jsou vystavena v mnoha halách. Kromě šlapacích autíček ale žádný bicykl v expozici nenajdeme. Pár jich skrývá pouze depozitář. Jeden velociped stojí opravdu za zmínku neboť je velmi důležitý pro historii kola. Michaux velociped s vlnitým rámem z období kdy Michaux sídlel krátce na adrese uvedené na výrobním štítku 19 Rue Jean Goujon a to od března do května 1868. Z tohoto období unáme pouze dva dochované exempláře a jeden je právě v Mulhousách.


199/B - Michaux 1868


Collection Schlumpf Cité de l´automobile national museum – Mulhouse

Adresa: 17 rue de la Mertzau, 8 100 Mulhouse, Francie







Hans and Fritz Schlumpf were born in Italy in 1904 and 1906 respectively. Their father was Swiss and their mother, Jeanne Becker, was from Mulhouse, where the family settled in 1906. Their father, Carl, worked as an accountant for the horticultural company Becker. However, his health declined and he died in August 1918.

Hans was sent to a private school in Switzerland and obtained a Higher Diploma in Business. He then worked in two banks before going into business with his brother in 1929. Fritz attended and graduated from Mulhouse state high school. He found employment in the textile industry, and started his own business as a wool broker in 1928.In 1935, the two brothers founded SAIL (a public limited company in the wool industry) and bought their first shares in the Malmerspach spinning mill.  They took control of various companies in 1940 and again in 1956 at Erstein and Roubaix.



Photos were find on the internet 

 1957 - 1965 : HKD, A TEXTILE FACTORY

 In 1957, the Schlumpf brothers bought the HKD textile factory, a former woollen mill in Mulhouse. Between 1961 and 1963, Fritz Schlumpf secretly bought large numbers of classic cars. To make these purchases, he linked up with various buyers in France, Switzerland, England, Italy, Germany and the USA. Some of these contacts were particularly fruitful - half of his collection (over 200 cars) came from just 13 of them. These included Mr Rafaelli, a Renault dealer who owned several Bugattis and agreed to be his buying adviser – a collaboration that lasted several years. Fritz Schlumpf continued to use his industrial wealth to buy up classic European cars, while avoiding American models.

In May 1965, the first article revealing the size of this secret collection appeared in the Alsace press. Only a privileged few had been allowed access to the warehouses holding the cars.

1966 - 1976 : THE “SCHLUMPF MUSEUM”

In 1966, work on displaying the collection began. Fritz Schlumpf’s aim was to reveal to the public for the first time the exceptional collection that he had managed to bring together in just a few years. He developed part of the factory warehousing to create the “Schlumpf Museum”. This substantial project took several years. All internal walls, which had separated the various production areas, were removed from this sawtooth-roof building. The newly created exhibition hall with 17,000 m² of unified space was subdivided into 23 “districts”, each containing 10-20 cars. These were surrounded by a couple of miles of wide, tiled walkways, with names such as “Avenue Carl Schlumpf”, “Avenue Jeanne Schlumpf” and “Rue Royale”. Various service areas were developed around this.  

At the same time, restoration work on the cars was stepped up. This required seven assistant mechanics, two upholsterers, two body-work specialists, an assistant body-work specialist and five painters. Purchasing and exhibiting this collection cost Fritz Schlumpf around 12 million French francs over 10 years.

By 28 June 1976, the textile factory was in crisis and its employees were on strike. The unions condemned the Schlumpf brothers for “lack of consultation” and “illegal acts”. The brothers tried to sell their factories for a symbolic one French franc. But when no offers were received, they quit and took refuge in Basel. They would never return to France. 

At the end of 1976, the 20 remaining workers at the HKC factory (the renamed HKD factory) were made redundant and the building was sealed. A long period of legal battles between the Schlumpf brothers and their creditors followed.

1977 - 1979 : THE “WORKERS MUSEUM”

On 7 March 1977, the warehouses were occupied by the unions. The “Schlumpf Museum” was renamed the “Workers Museum”. It was overseen by the CFDT union and entry was free. A collection was taken on the way out to cover both running costs and the costs of ongoing legal action. “I used to earn 1,400 francs a month: here’s where the rest went” read one of the many placards placed on the grill of a racing car. This was the beginning of “The Schlumpf Affair”…

In 1978, at the instigation of Jean Panhard, the French Council of State classed the collection as a Historical Monument, meaning that no part could leave French territory.  

In 1979, the Colmar Appeals Court ordered liquidation of the Schlumpf brothers’ personal assets including the collection of classic cars restored using company funds. A few hours after this Order, the CFDT handed over the keys to the factory.


In October 1980, the French supreme court authorised the sale of the collection and the following year it was purchased by the National Automobile Museum Association. This association comprised the City of Mulhouse, the Haut-Rhin Département, the Alsace Region, the Mulhouse Chamber of Commerce, the Automobile Club de France, the Panhard Company and the organisers of the Paris Motor Show. It was chaired by the President of the Haut-Rhin General Council and raised the 44 million Francs required to purchase the collection. This valuation was to be contested by the Schlumpf brothers, who won their case 20 years later and obtained a further 25 million Francs.

The National Automobile Museum opened to the public on 10 July 1982.


In 1989, following Orders from the Paris Appeal Court, the National Automobile Museum was forced to add “Schlumpf Collection” to its name and to all documents mentioning part of the collection.  

In 1999, Museum operation was entrusted to the company Culturespaces. On 25 March 2000, after considerable renovation and modernisation work, Culturespaces opened the world’s largest car museum to the public. Three objectives had guided the museum renovation work: preserving its identity, effectively displaying its collection and designing a modern, vibrant project. A new layout using the latest multimedia innovations brings it to life, while respecting the spirit of the original.  


In July 2006, Culturespaces opened new areas designed by Studio Milou Architecture. These include the entrance to the Museum (forecourt, footbridge, atrium, projection wall) and the three exhibition spaces at the end of the tour.  The main aim of this project was to move from a closed collection to a museum open to the outside world, where both beginners and enthusiasts can explore the whole of this former mill which extends over an area larger than eight football pitches. The designers wanted to highlight the exceptional architectural heritage of this former factory. The Museum now has a highly original layout with a new visitor circuit around the various period buildings (1880 – 1930) and the factory courtyard. The National Automobile Museum has become La Cité de l'Automobile – National Museum – Schlumpf Collection.

original text concentring to history of museum:

Malmerspach Collection

199/D - Malmerspach Collection


Ard op de Weegh

16 Mai 2008, in the evening, died Madame Arlette Schlumpf –Naas; the widow of Mr. Fritz Schlumpf at the age of 76 years. This brave woman had her great years beside her husband till 1977 and in the years after that she fought with her husband against the injustice that has been done to them by the French government, the French court of justice, the Trade Union, the press and the misled public opinion. It was an intrigue against them of jealousy, injustice, instigating people and the bankrupt of the factories of Schlumpf in 1977 came for the politic and the socialists as a gift from heaven to prove that the capitalists were to blame for the bad economic situation. They forgot to mention, that the problems in the textile industry were caused by the much cheaper textile out of Asia. All over Europe textile factories had to close.

What after that happened to the Schlumpfs was scandalous. It’s my opinion, that the French government, the French court, the city of Mulhouse, the writing press of that time and the trade union are due to a serious apologize to Arlette and Fritz Schlumpf. In 1977 and the roaring years after that many private properties of the Schlumpfs were taken away from them. Among them the entire car collection.

At the 18th of April 1992 Fritz Schlumpf died disappointed at the age of 86. Arlette kept fighting for the rehabilitation of her husband and her daughter. In 1999 she got back as a gesture of the French government a very small part of the entire car collection of Fritz, the so called Malmerspach collection; 62 cars that were not restored yet in 1977 when the French government confiscated them. As Arlette regained these 62 cars – among them 17 Bugattis – they were in a bad shape. Many parts of the cars were stolen, even a complete car: the Alfa Romeo Cabriolet décapotable. Arlette sheltered the cars in a big shed in Wertolsheim and they stayed there until six weeks after she died. Before her dead she spoke to two automotive salesmen; the Dutchman Jaap Braam Ruben and the Frenchman Bruno Vendiesse. They could buy the cars if they promised that the best part of the collection would stay together. Jaap and Bruno kept word. Five weeks after the dead of Mrs. Schlumpf they removed the cars from Wertolsheim to a little village in the neighbourhood of Lille. From 12 Bugattis are waiting to be shipped to the US. One will be restored in Peable Beach condition, the others will be shown in the museum of Peter Mullin in Oxnard in California.

On Monday the 28th of July I was allowed by Jaap en Bruno to see the collection together with my son. It was a kind of emotional to me to see this collection. Arlette fought as a lion to get these cars back. There were even eight Bugattis that Fritz Schlumpf bought from William Shakespeare in 1964. These cars – except some T57 Gallibier - will return to America after 44 years.

Most of the cars were still in a pretty good shape, although there was nothing done with them since 1964 if you don’t mention the thieves in the 22 years the French government guarded them. At first I walked around between the cars, overwhelmed by the mystic. I considered the history of these cars as a symbol of the brave fight of one little woman against the state. It had not been because of these cars, but it was about the rehabilitation of her husband Fritz. I felt deep respect for Arlette. Then I was struck by the mystic and the charisma of these unrestored cars. Real beauty lasts for ever in what state cars are. It’s in the character. So this collection is one big monument for Fritz Schlumpf but surely for Arlette, too.

I am very happy, that we saw the cars unrestored before their shipping to America. In this condition the cars were during the time, that Arlette fought for them. Arlette is no more, but the story of the Schlumpfs hasn’t ended yet. We will write a book about the affaire, tell the truth, demask the intrigues and lies and rehabilitate Hans an Fritz Schlumpf. But for all we will give the respect to that woman who earns that. Arlette Schlumpf. The battle has begun.

 Future of this collection:

 Some of the Galibiers will be sold in Europe. Braam-Ruben and Vendiesse will each keep a Stelvio. All other Bugattis will go, together with several other interesting cars to the museum of Peter Mullin in Oxnard, California.

The cars will be exhibited there UNRESTORED! The vehicles will be displayed exactly as they were. At the moment only the Delage D8 and the Peugeot will undergo a restoration.

Robert Štěrba. "thank you very much to author of this importatnt article"