Luxury cars are the only reason anyone really likes cars. Without them, the concept of "automobile" would just be metal cages rolling down the street; convenient ways of getting to work in the morning. Some are nicer than others. And then there are these cars. The ones that are built with enough precision and engineering panache to make every driver feel safe as a nestling baby while their engines roar with the intensity of a shuttle shooting off into the sky. The production lines of Lambos, Ferraris, BMWs, Pagani’s, and Benz’s are in themselves technological innovations; every company does it a little different. Wanna change your perception of a car? Go straight to the chrome.
Ferrari Factory and Track Tour, Italy – photo by Karen
Ferrari fanatics and even apathetic drivers who enjoy looking and shiny metal on wheels that can go really, really fast should not miss out on this chance to get up close and personal with the sexiest cars in the world. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, but when in Maranello, get on a flaming red Ferrari and go, go, go, even if it costs 100 euros for a 10-minute ride. However, the factory tour that guides visitors through the assembly floor, Red Carpet where fresh-built Ferraris are driven out every 18 minutes, and all the showrooms of the F1 racers and V8 cars (458 and 599s, Spiders and California) will convince every passerby of the artistry that goes into these cars.
The Lamborghini Museum and Factory, Italy – photo by Symbolic Motor Car Company
Ferruccio Lamborghini started his long and colorful career in automobile manufacturing in tractors, of all things. After having built up a hefty career for himself as an entrepreneur, he continued his passion for car collecting. As a mechanic, he found faults in his Ferrari 250GT, brought these dissatisfactions up to Enzo Ferrari, got brushed off, and started his own luxury car company. Visitors to Bologna who decide to stop at the Lambo factory will uncover this history and much more, as well as view the Aventador assembly line to check out every stage of construction, from engine production lines to see how the beasts are assembled by hand, and the upholstery department, which manually stitches together the quality pieces of leather. Those who want to go a step further can even take a little tour around the town in one of the sexy supercars.
Bmw World, Munich – photo by Filip Demuinck
In contrast to the age-old tradition of quality, painstakingly hand-made Italian goods is the efficiently automated and always uniform creation of pristine BMWs, which largely occurs in their plant in Munich. Here 800 to 950 cars are produced daily: presses create the body parts, and robots lift the panels, apply the glue, weld the parts together, create and install the engines and paint the cars in perfect, dance-like synchronicity. The 2.5-hour tour through the plant leads visitors in English and German through press shop, body welding, paint shop, engine assembly, final assembly and testing. The tour also includes a stop at the BMW Museum, where visitors can learn about the history and innovation of the BMW brand and product through 125 exhibits and a dazzling amount of chrome.
Pagani Factory Tour, Italy – photo by propot3ntial
Step into the world of ultra-precision at the Pagani Automobili in San Cesario sul Panaro, Italy, the home of the famous Italian supercars. Supposedly, it took Horacio Pagani, the founder of the company and former chief engineer at Ferrari, seven years to build his first Zonda. Now, the waiting time for Pagani customers is closer to two – in the company’s 14 years of existence, Pagani has built only 132 cars from their modest factory. It’s the details that matter, in the painstaking construction of every tiny or large carbon fiber component; every piece of aluminum is created from a larger block, produced by a Swiss watchmaker. Even the nuts and bolts used by Pagani features an engraved logo and costs 18 euros – that’s dedication to craftsmanship. Visitors get an indepth look at the detailed process, as well as a tour around the sleek, clean finished products.
Mercedes-Benz Museum, Stuttgart – photo by travelblog
In the world-renowned architectural marvel that is the Mercedes-Benz factory in Stuttgart, Germany, visitors can get a tour through the body shop, riddled with robots that weld, rivet, laser weld, measure and attach the moveable parts; and stop by the paint shop, where large tube-shaped robots layer on various coats of high gloss water-based paint, polish, and a non-scratch coat. Not only are tours led through the remarkable production process, visitors can stop by the atrium and admire the impressive collection of prototypes of their iconic automobiles, such as the G 230 "Popemobile" or the ML 230, which debuted in the movie Jurassic Park. The showroom takes visitors through the history of Mercedes-Benz automobile making, from the original Motorwagen trike to cutting-edge racecars.