Expo Autoworld Brussels 2

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Electric and Amphibious Cars

By Jun-Jun Junia

AFTER seeing a jeepney and seeing lots of old cars inside the AUTOWORLD Expo, it made me realize that I’m inside a vintage car museum. Now that made it more interesting. It’s car heaven.

There is one nook that caught our attention. It was a selection of different car models from vintage-looking to futuristic-designed vehicles. As we went closer to the area, there was a sign that read “EVOLUTION OF ECO CARS” and there I saw, in the corner, a 1916 Detroit Electric.

1916 Detroit Electric

Yes, you read it right, there was an electric vehicle (EV) during those times. I’m not sure if it was running but the body is in perfect shape. This EV was popularly sold in the 1910’s, selling around 1000 to 2000 cars a year.

The Detroit Electric was mainly sold to women drivers and physicians, as this car starts immediately without the physically demanding hand cracking of the engine that was needed with early internal combustion engine vehicles. They outsold all other types of cars since they did not have the vibration, smell, and noise associated with gasoline cars.

Autoworld2 for web

The question is, what happened to them? In my research, I learned that in the 1920s, internal combustion engine autos became more common and inexpensive, sales of the Electric dropped. The stock market crash of 1929 forced the company to file for bankruptcy. Detroit Electric cars were available only until 1942.

Amphibious Car

Of course we all know that now, electric is in again due to imminent environmental concerns that made car manufacturers develop hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles. So car manufacturers went back developing electric vehicles after all, to eliminate emissions and save the world.

Amphibious Car Propeller

Going to the second floor of the museum, we saw a car displayed near the stairs. It blew our minds away. We thought this type of car was only intended for films, perfect for a spy movie. It’s a 1950 Amphicar, a real amphibious car which can be driven into water and converts into a boat. Just like in the movies! I’m amazed with the design of this car.
At the back, underneath the car, near the location of the muffler, was a propeller. The propeller is sealed and there was no muffler in the area, meaning this can really be converted into a speed boat. Amazing! Looking at this car reminded me of the floods in our country.

I guess this car design is the answer to the flood prone areas in the Philippines since heavy rainfall nowadays causes chest deep waters, or sometimes even worse. Imagine if you have an amphibian car when it’s raining hard and you need to go to work…have nothing to fear, amphibian car to the rescue! You don’t have to be afraid of parking your car in flooded parking areas, all you need is an anchor.

Overall AUTOWORLD is a big car museum with over 300 interesting vintage cars on display. From an 1890s three-wheeled car to a recent electric one, race cars from the 60’s to 90’s with Formula 3 and formula 1 cars, to add, some vintage motorbikes and royal carriages were included as well. The place was really a car lover’s paradise!

Expo Autoworld Brussels

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An Exhibit of Automotive History 1

By Jun-Jun Junia

LAST month, my wife and I visited her best friend in Brussels, Belgium. Coming from Paris and Italy, we were sort of sick of going to another museum so we looked for alternatives in Belgium. The car geek that I am, I was more than happy to find out that they were holding a car exposition called AUTOWORLD. We didn’t think twice about going.



The Expo Autoworld is at Parc du Cinquantenaire Jubelpark in Brussels. It was a very beautiful venue with sophisticated architectural design. Seeing the sign Autoworld felt like a kid about to enter a candy store.
As we approached the entrance of the building, we heard the raging engine of a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO about to storm out of the the through the front entrance.


This gave me a boost of excitement. I saw the car closely when it stopped in front of me and, to my surprise, the car wasn’t finished like a show car with the usual flawless paint, detailed engine, shiny mag wheels. It did not have the expected show-car appearance.

Evolution of Eco Cars

This gave me an impression that the cars inside were not only for display, but cars that were really used everyday—driven by the owners and not just parked on their garages like figurines.

It was a ‘62 Ferrari 250 GTO–for crying out loud—which some say the greatest Ferrari of all time, going out of the building, really amazing!

We were convinced to buy tickets and see the exhibit.
At the entrance I saw a Porsche 911 displayed with the back drop saying Ferdinand Porsche, The Heritage, from electric to electric. I wonder what it meant but its seems it has something to do with the exhibit’s inspiration.
Inside were a hangar-full of cars, mostly vintage, organized per year of make. We were clearly educated on the history of cars, like going around another museum.

The first impressive car I saw was a 1911 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. When I looked at the engine, I assumed it might have been the first 6-cylinder car available in the market during those times, equivalent to sport cars nowadays.
Beside the Rolls was a 1911 Benz. We noticed that the old logo of this German car (popular now with a three pointed star) is just the word BENZ.

You are probably asking why they are now called MERCEDES BENZ? Where did the word Mercedes come from? We learned while going around the expo that MERCEDES is a Spanish girl name meaning “grace” and was the name of the daughter of Emil Jellinek the guy behind Daimler-Mercedes engines. That’s why we saw a girl’s picture beside a 1933 Mercedes Benz type 370, it was Mercedes.

At one corner we saw a famous vehicle in our country. The original vandalized vehicle, the Philippine pride, uniqueness at it’s best: The Jeepney built by Francisco Motors. I took a lot of pictures of it even though I was asking myself, “What am I doing? They are all over Manila.” But looking at it in an Auto Expo in Brussels Belgium makes me feel proud so I clicked away!

Going around Autoworld taught us mostly about the automobile industry’s history. We saw mostly the evolution of the logos which interested me. There I saw the four rings of the AUDI logo but when I looked closer, I saw the name AUTO UNION in the center of the four rings. The name of the car is HORCH 930 V 1939 and it bore the logo of the four rings of Audi.

After further research, I learned that in 1932 Audi merged with Horch, DKW, and Wanderer, to form Auto Union. It was during this period that the company offered the Audi Front that became the first European car to combine a six-cylinder engine with front-wheel drive. So I learned that the four rings symbolizes the merger in 1932 of four previously independent motor vehicle manufacturers: Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer. (To Be Continued)