Museums

8 don’t-miss museums for Volkswagen brand enthusiasts

A Volkswagen ID.3 electric car stands on an elevator platform inside one of the twin towers used as storage at the Autostadt promotional facility next to the Volkswagen factory on October 26, 2020 in Wolfsburg, Germany. The facility contains a multi-brand museum.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Volkswagens hold a place in many hearts. From the classic Type 2 Bus to the sleek Karmann Ghia to the Beetle, there's a heritage of Volkswagens for nearly every type of enthusiast. Museums across the world are dedicated to sharing those models, including some of the rarest Volkswagens ever made. Scroll down to see some of the best places to see VWs.

LeMay – America's Car Museum (Tacoma, Washington, USA)

Volkswagen Type 2 at Lemay America's Car Museum

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen: "America's Car Museum preserves the history, technology and influence of cars in the U.S. through its 12 rotating exhibits. Among the museum's collection of over 250 cars is a light green 1967 Volkswagen Type 2 double-door camper (shown above), which has been restored with its original interior, wood cabinets, fold-down table and bed. The car was donated by renowned blown-glass sculptor Dale Chihuly, who was born in Tacoma. The museum also features a turquoise 1962 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, which was owned by museum founders Harold and Nancy LeMay."

AutoMuseum Volkswagen (Wolfsburg, Germany)

AutoMuseum Volkswagen is one of the few museums in the world dedicated entirely to Volkswagen branded automobiles. Among the models in the collection are a 1958 Volkswagen Beetle 1200 Convertible, 1969 "Herbie" Beetle, 1971 "Basket Beetle", and 1963 T1 fire brigade pickup truck.

Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing (Ocala, Florida, USA)

Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen: "Automotive engineer and racecar driver Don Garlits is considered the father of drag racing. As a young man, Garlits would buy a new Volkswagen every year, and the vintage vehicle wing of his museum reflects his love of the brand. Most notable in his collection is his green 1974 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia that he purchased from a car dealership auction. The vehicle has only been driven for 27 dealer test miles and has never been titled. From the same auction, Garlits also purchased a black 1950 Volkswagen Beetle — one of only 151 that were imported to the U.S. that year — and restored it himself before displaying it at his museum."

Lane Motor Museum (Nashville, Tennessee, USA)

Lane Motor Museum has a rotating collection, of which five are Volkswagens: 1956 Volkswagen Beetle, 2002 Volkswagen Beetle, 2003 Volkswagen Beetle, 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit "Rocket Car", and 2014 Volkswagen XL1. The '81 and '14 models are the most unique. The Rocket Car has Buck Rogers fiberglass bodywork that helps the car reportedly get over 50 mpg. VW's XL1 is a diesel-powered plug-in hybrid. Just 200 were sold.

Volo Museum (Volo, Illinois, USA)

Volo Museum

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen: "On your next trip to the Windy City, head to the suburbs to see the Volo Museum's exhibits of classic cars, including many from TV and movies. The pearl white, No. 53 Beetle is a movie star worth visiting. About 35 models of the iconic car were built for the 2005 sequel, 'Herbie: Fully Reloaded,' but this model really does come to life, thanks to over a mile of wires concealed under the hood. The museum has rigged it to a motion sensor, so the Beetle still reacts when someone walks by."

ZeitHaus (Wolfsburg, Germany)

The Zeithaus museum is housed within the Autostadt, the world's largest new car delivery center. ZeitHaus is a multi-brand museum with over 60 brands represented. The museum is filled with examples of all aspects of automotive past and present, including concept cars, early autos, and examples of the automating process. Museum managers frequently change out the vehicles on display

The National Automobile Museum (Reno, Nevada, USA)

The National Automobile Museum

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen: "See over 200 vintage vehicles dating as far back as the 1890s in downtown Reno's National Automobile Museum. An air-cooled, four-cylinder black 1947 Volkswagen Type II Limousine is on display. Visitors are often surprised to see that the small four-seat car is called a "limousine," but in Germany where the car was built, the term simply means "full-sized sedan." A ruby-red 1964 Volkswagen 1200 Deluxe Convertible is also on display, after being completely disassembled and restored by the museum."

The Petersen Museum (Los Angeles, California, USA)

The Petersen Museum

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen: "With over 100,000 square feet of exhibits and 300 vehicles, the Petersen Museum is one of the world's largest automotive museums. Its exhibits feature many iconic Volkswagens, including the yellow 1979 Volkswagen Transporter Van driven in the 2006 film, "Little Miss Sunshine." Also on display is the 1966 Volkswagen Type 2 "Jenkins Bus," formerly used by civil rights pioneers Esau and Janie B. Jenkins in Johns Island, South Carolina. The bus was used to transport hundreds of residents of the island to Charleston, where they could attend high school. The Jenkins family helped Black citizens pass discriminatory voting literacy tests, and later opened businesses on Johns Island to support the community. The bus has been carefully preserved and still bears the marks of its over 40 years with the Jenkins family."

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Interesting backstory

Volkswagen Bus part inspired popular dog toy

The classic VW Bus inspired one of the most popular dog toys of all time.

Volkswagen

Product designs sometimes take inspiration from the places we expect the least. Moments of genius are driven by finding solutions to unique problems, and as it turns out, that's exactly how we ended up with KONG. The beefy, durable dog chew toy is modeled after a Volkswagen Bus part.

Joe Markham's shop Markham needed a dog for security, but he unexpectedly got a chew-crazy pet.Volkswagen

KONG's inventor, Joe Markham, adopted a German Shepherd to help with security at his auto repair shop in downtown Denver, CO. The dog, while a great addition to the shop, came with a few bad habits. The dog's most worrisome hobby was chewing, which he would do with almost anything he could find, especially rocks. As you might imagine, chewing on rocks is not good for the dog's teeth. Markham needed a durable chew toy, but nothing seemed to work, from animal bones to radiator hoses.

The solution came from an unlikely place: While working on a 1960sVW Type 2 Bus, Markham discovered that the rubber axle stop made a perfect chew toy. The dog had gotten ahold of the rubber stop, and while he was chewing viciously, neither the stop nor his teeth were damaged.

The discovery led Markham to spend the next six years experimenting with various rubbers, sizes, and shapes for his dog toy. After working with rubber experts in Germany, the design was finalized and the KONG was born. The shape for the toy ended up being very close to that of the axle stop. The funky, bulbous design meant that the toy wouldn't bounce like a ball, and would instead flop around randomly, which is similar to the way that small animals run away from predators.

VW Bus axle stop The axle stop from a VW Bus inspired KONG's shape.Volkswagen

It's worth noting that you should not intentionally let your dog chew on any part of your vehicle. Even unused automotive parts can contain chemicals and other harmful materials that could make your dog sick or worse. This isn't a pitch to buy a KONG, just a warning about the hazards of car parts being used as dog toys.

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The new Tiguan sports an all-new front-end design.

Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Tiguan is an interesting compact SUV with a fun-to-drive personality and plenty of style. After 14 years on sale, the Tiguan is just in its second generation, but VW has given it a significant update for the 2022 model year that brings new tech, updated styling, and a refreshed interior.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan The rear has been massaged with new badging and standard LED taillights. Volkswagen

The restyled Tiguan is available in four trim levels: S, SE, and SE R-Line Black. All models get a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, but VW's 4Motion all-wheel drive can be optioned in.

Styling updates are the big story for the 2022 Tiguan. The front end is entirely new and carries design cues from the larger Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport. LED headlights are now standard, and an illuminated light line is available for the SUV's grille. On the rear liftgate, the Tiguan model name lettering also mirrors that of the Atlas, with the name spelled out underneath the VW logo.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan Most trims get an 8-inch touchscreen.Volkswagen

Inside, the Tiguan now comes standard with heated seats, while a heated steering wheel and ventilated seats are available. Cloth upholstery is standard, while mid-range trims get leatherette. The top SEL R-Line comes with leather and a perforated leather-wrapped sport steering wheel. Front-wheel drive models come standard with three rows of seating as well, making the Tiguan one of the more family-friendly vehicles in its class.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan The top trim gets upscale leather upholstery.Volkswagen

The base Tiguan S comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen running Volkswagen's excellent MIB 2 software, but all others get MIB 3 infotainment software running on a glass-covered 8.0-inch touchscreen. The automaker notes that it's a capacitive touch system, which functions more like a smartphone than other infotainment systems, which sometimes require pressure to register a touch input. All Tiguans get a digital gauge cluster with an 8-inch display, while the top SEL R-Line upgrades to a 10.25-inch configurable gauge cluster that offers full-screen navigation and other views.

Pricing for the 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan starts at $25,995 for the base S trim with front-wheel drive. Adding all-wheel drive pushes the prices to $27,495. All Tiguan models will see a $1,195 destination charge tacked on at the bottom line.

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