I had a day off in Holland last weekend (travelling for work again) so I went to Den Haag and visited the Louwman museum. As “car museums I’d never heard of” go: pretty damn impressive. Warning: lotsa photos inside.

The Louwman claims to be the oldest privately owned car collection in the world (which sounds dubious to me), and to have the world’s largest collection of pre-1910 vehicles. Certainly they have the world’s largest collection of Spykers (the original marque not the modern one) - they own most of the remaining global fleet.

Apart from the pre-WWI and Spyker collections, it’s a well curated display with a strong focus on pre-1960 luxury vehicles, a nice microcar section, and a respectable selection of racing cars, as well as some individually significant vehicles.

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Well worth the time if you ever have half a day to kill in Den Haag (or Amsterdam for that matter - it’s only an hour and a half from Schiphol by public transport).

Photos: Might as well lead with the glamour big guns...

1935 Deusenberg SJ with double phaeton coachwork by LeGrande. First owned by WW1 ace Reginald Sinclair. Cost $20k new, at a time when a Ford was $500. That is one sexy roofline..
1937 Talbot Lago T150SS Coupe by Figoni & Falaschi. One of the first cars with metallic paint, F&F being enthusiastic adopters of newfangled technology. Despite the appearance, this is a racecar: an identical one came 3rd at Le Mans in 1938. That is one sexy everything-line...
1948 Talbot Lago T26 Grand Sport Coupe by Saoutchik. The T26 Grand Sport was the only postwar Talbot Lago to have coachbuilt bodies, everything else was in-house by this time.

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Another Talbot Lago T26 Grand Sport, this time a 1949 by Chapron.
The Chapron Talbot Lago again. Dat ass...

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1946 Delahaye 135MS Coupe by Portout
1922 Joswin Town Car. Powered by Mercedes aero engine. Believed to be the last remaining Joswin.

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Joswin interior. Rosewood and ivory ceiling, silk curtains, brocade upholstery and the list goes on. Just a little luxurious.
1925 Isotta-Fraschini 8B dual-cowl Phaeton

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This, ladies and gentlemen, is what a shooting brake really looks like. 1910 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost shooting brake by Croall & Croall. According to the Louwman, the distinguishing feature of a shooting brake is not the number of doors but the presence of inwards-facing seats in the rear.
Stags head mascot on the Silver Ghost. Before the Spirit of Ecstacy came along in 1911, coachbuilders fitted whatever mascot took the owner’s fancy. Apparently RR commissioned their own mascot because they were fed up with some owners not having the greatest taste. So some things haven’t changed.

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Speaking of the Spirit of Ecstacy coming along: Spirit of Ecstacy, Bronze, 1911. One of the original run of 8 showroom models
1925 Rolls Royce Phantom 1 Torpedo Tourer by Barker. Polished aluminum body. Originally owned by the Nawab of Hyderabad.

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From the coachbuilt we make our way into the customised (or perhaps from the sublime into the ridiculous)...

1915 Cadillac Model 51 V8. One of the worlds first V8s and one of its first pimped rides. Owned by the president of a phone company, this car has everything, including a refrigerator, stove, car alarm, air suspension, swivel seats, a double bed, and probably the world’s first carphone (which worked by stopping at the roadside and extending a telescopic pole to hook into the overhead phone lines: you can do that when they’re your lines).

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1932 Graham Blue Streak coupe and Curtis Aerocar Land Yacht. Used by banker High MacDonald for the commute between his home in Long Island and his Manhatten office. The trailer is doped fabric over a cable-tensioned spaceframe - cutting edge early-30s aviation tech - and contains an office, kitchen and bathroom. The “cockpit” has a full set of instruments, plus levers to aim the floodlights.
1955 Daimler “Golden Zebra” coupe. The last of the famous Docker Daimlers

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Gold plated trim, zebra skin upholstery, and an ivory dashboard. Classy,
1910 Brook Swan Car. Built for an eccentric (really?) Scotsman living in Calcutta. Features include light-up swans eyes and the ability to jet steam from the swan beak to clear a path and squirt whitewash from the rear for added realism.

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Also included: brushes to remove elephant shit from wheels
...and an 8 tone exhaust driven horn which can be played from a keyboard in the back.

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Ten years later the owner commissioned locally a a matching miniature electric car “Cygnet” for use around the estate. This is believed to be the first Indian made car. Which explains Tata’s quest to take revenge on the whole British car industry...
2008 Deco Rides “Sedan Delivery Decoliner” with Harley Davidson “Deco Scoot”. Inspired by the 39 Lincoln Zephyr, built on a Chevy Blazer chassis, and SBC powered (boo!).

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The bike and ramp withdraw into the car electrically.

And from there back to the sublime: Bugattis - they has some. Eight, in fact, though not including a Royale.

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1934 Type 57 Grand Raid by Gangloff. Commissioned by Bugatti for the Paris Motor Show to show the possibilities of the Type 57 chassis. “Raid” was already French usage for an endurance rally through rough terrain,
1932 Type 54 Bachelier roadster. Started life as a Grand Prix car but was rebodied as a road car by Bachelier for his own use. Five Type 54s were built , and two of them killed their owners. I guess a 300hp 5.0L engine, SWB, and ‘30s suspension and brakes will do that for you.

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1932 Type 50T Coach Profilee. Styled by Ettore’s son Jean, aged 23. Jean died in a testing accident 7 years later.

Mercs: they doesn’t has as many. Only three that I saw, but those include Kaiser Wilhelm’s personal limo, plus these two gems:

1936 500K Spezial Roadster. 23 of the 350 500Ks were this body style. Fricking gorgeous. This particular one is known as “the butchers car” because in the 50s it was owned by a London butcher who used it as his daily, before sticking it in a barn for 30 years. As you do...

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Interior of the 500k. Mother of pearl dashboard, nom nom nom.
1929 SSK. Probably the most original remaining: unrestored and all matching numbers. One owner from 1941 to 2004. The museum discovered after purchasing it from the owner’s estate that it had matching numbers except the crankcase, and then found that the crankcase for this car was in a car now owed by Mercedes, who they persuaded to swap it for the one this car had acquired at some point.

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Now a couple of professionally relevant cars: Louwman’s money originally came from owning a Dodge dealership, though he lost most of it during the war. In 1964, he had the foresight to acquire the northwest European distribution rights for a little-known Japanese car company: Toyota. This is how they can now afford a collection of 230 cars dominated by serious exotics and are routinely found in the winners circle of world-class Concours (a number of the cars shown here are past Pebble Breach winners).

1914 Dodge Touring car. Produced in the first month the Dodge brothers began making cars. This is the first car in the Louwman collection - it was purchased in 1934 as a “display piece” for Louwman Motors’ showroom. Fortunately they managed to hide it during the war.

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This car is also interesting because it had all the available options fitted. This included curved side glass and a combination lock steering lock (visible on the steering column just in front of the wheel)
It also included a “fat man” steering wheel, the forerunner of modern tilt-away wheels. The wheel hub can be slackened by a lever, allowing the wheel to slide up on the two parallel spokes, giving extra clearance for belly entry and egress.

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1936 Toyoda AA. This is the oldest known surviving Toyota, and the only model AA. Even Toyota don’t have one. It was found in a barn in Russia in 2008 and acquired from the grandson of the original owner. Getting an export license from Russia was apparently non-trivial. It is, obviously, unrestored....
Soichiro Toyoda’s modest and battered desk and chair, from behind which he ran Toyota for 20-odd years. Donated by Toyoda-san to the museum.

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Right, lets move to Italy. Alfas! Ferraris! Maseratis! Lamborginis! We has them all! There are enough that I’m not even going to bother showing you the Alfa 6C in which Enzo Ferrari won the Circuit di Modena, or Tazio Nuvolaris’ Maserati 8CM Monoposto.

Loadsa red cars. And a blue 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Le Mans car, raced by Scuderia Ferrari in their first Le Mans. Interestingly, the supercharged 2.3L straight 8 engine is actually 2 4 cylinder blocks hitched together

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More red cars. 1968 Tipo 33/2 Daytona, yum.
Alfa flat 12 F1 engine, hnnnngh. Behind it a 1976 Tipo 33/SC/12 (SC= monocoque, 12 = cylinders). Alfa won the World Sportscar Championship in 75 and 77 with flat 12 Tipo 33s (but not 76, the year of this car). Love that rear vision mirror. Hear it in action here (the good stuff starts at 1:40)

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1965 275GTB Lightweight. Original, unrestored, and still on its original tyres (after 50,000km, which shows how much longer tyres used to last)
1965 500 Superfast Speziale. Originally owned by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, this one-off factory special is a mashup of a 500 America Superfast and a 330GT 2+2

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1957 Ferrari 625 New Zealand Tasman. Kiwi racing driver Pat Hoare was a personal friend of Enzo, and at his request Ferrari built him a car to race in NZ’s Tasman Cup series. It’s an older Tipo 500 chassis with a bored out ex Le Mans engine, a Tipo 555 GP car transmission, and some Lancia bits. After Hoare blew up the engine and asked Enzo to send him a V12, Ferrari instead built him a whole new car: it’s nice to have friends! This is the first one.

And while we’re on racecars: wait, there’s more! The collection is very heavily biased towards Le Mans, but there’s one or two well chosen representatives of practically every other flavour of racing.

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Le Mans winning 1957 Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar D Type. Five D types were entered in 57: all were privater entries, Jaguar having withdrawn from racing in 56., They took 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th places. C Types and D Types are the only Jags for which BRG is not the right colour, IMHO. Ecurie Ecosse Blue is.
Le Mans winning 1935 Lagonda M45R. Several copies of this car exist - this one is identifiable as the original because the vestigial tail fin (not visible here) is squint. The team knocked it up in haste the night before the race after they saw Alfa had one. The car won the race despite being out of oil and having steering damage due to a crash, after the Alfa pit crew incorrectly advised their driver he was a lap ahead so didn’t need to push.

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1971 Chevrolet Baja Boot. This is Steve McQueen’s second iteration of the famous “Boot” - the first was built in 68.
1971 McLaren M8F: McLaren’s last series-winning Can Am car. Peter Revson, who drove for McLaren after Bruce McLaren’s death in 1970, won the 71 series in this car, with Denny Hulme second. The next year, the 917 happened, and combined with McLaren having a lot of grief with the M20, this caused them to abandon Can Am to focus on F1.

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1953 “works” Aston Martin DB3 race car. Pretty...
1983 Toyota Celica Group B. Bjorn Waldegard’s Rally Cote D’Ivoire winning car. Not pretty. But motherfucking tough.

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1993 Toyota TS-010 Le Mans car. Dat wing. Aston Martin Nimrod in the background.
1985 Mazda 737C. Not as brutal as the 787B, but still, Le Mans rotary...

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..and then on to random stuff which caught my interest.

Firetruck! They have several - this Ahrens Fox N-S-2 is particularly cool because it served the city of Rotterdam from 1928 to 1971, including right through WW2. The huge pump on the front flows 1000 gallons per minute, and some of the water is diverted through the engine cooling system as the regular radiator won’t handle sustained full throttle on the 16.4L engine. Due to the heavy pump and engine in front, and the lack of power steering back then, firemen had to be specially trained to drive it: it has about a million turns lock to lock and a 72ft turning circle

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As mentoned, they have some Spykers. This one is their most (technically) significant, and gets pride of place in its own turret room. 1903 60HP racecar. Significant because it’s the world’s first 6 cylinder car, the first (single engined) 4WD car, and the first car with 4 wheel brakes (though admittedly only via a transmission brake).
1912 Darracq 12hp. Meet Genevieve, the star of the 1953 comedy of the same name. They also have the rival car in the film, a 1905 Spyker. Genevieve the movie was a huge contributor to popularising classic cars as a hobby in the UK.

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1962 Citroen 2CV Sahara. 4WD, twin engiens giving a massive total of 850cc, and two transmissions linked to a single clutch pedal and gearshift. Also note the position of the fuel filler. Only the French...Triumph Renown and (I think) Toyota Corolla in the foreground.
1943 VW 166 Schwimmwagen. Very rare nowadays - like many WW2 toys, most of the survivors were scrapped after the war.

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1954 Humber Pullman, first owned, in case you couldn’t guess, by Winston Churchill. Churchill preferred Humbers as they were more discreet than Daimlers or Rolls Royces. Customised with an oversized ashtray...
1964 Aston Martin DB5, Bond car. One of four cars fully kitted out (by Aston) for filming Goldfinger, this features all the toys seen in the movie.

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Not a car in sight. The museum also has a large collection of vehicle memorabilia, including a whole art gallery’s worth of 1930s Art Deco and Art Nouveau advertising posters. Unfortunately no prints for sale in the gift shop, or my new shed would be wallpapered by now.

I haven’t yet covered the veterans, or the collection covering the rise and fall (and rise again) of the electric car, and I’ve really only hit the personal highlights of the rest of it - I spared you Fat Elvis’s customised 76 Caddy, for example. But Kinja has decreed that that’s all the photos I can upload, so this is where we stop.

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Veteran cars aren’t my thing - I spent most of my time in hog heaven with the 30s French and the 50s Italians - but that section is clearly an important collection, and shows the development from literally horseless carriages (the 1894 Peugeot still has harness attachments) to the prototypes of the car as we know it - for example the 1899 De Dion-Bouton has.. wait for it.. a De Dion rear end. All the information for (almost) all the cars is on their website, and if you’re there in person, the audio tour is also fantastically informative (though its via a sucky app).

If you get the opportunity, I can’t recommend it enough.