Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile Torino

I visited here in 2011, just after it had re-opened following a complete restoration. 

It is a large and impressive museum, mixing the informative (exposed engines and bare chassis) with the glib (new Fiat 500s bursting through kitchen walls). But you need to get them in and presentation is important, especially if you are accompanied, as I was, by someone who does not find cars at all exciting.

Obviously it majors on Italian cars and, in a way, it should probably concentrate on them entirely. The landmark vehicles of other nations seem not to have had the same care lavished upon them as the home team. Thus a nicely restored pastel Fiat 500 compares very favourably with a tired bodged up Mini Cooper complete with the worst boy-racer alloys – revenge I guess for the Italian Job.

A Ro80, a piece of hugely ambitious technology wrapped in an elegant and logical body from a firm that extended itself too far, is presented as a ropey, unrestored banger, excused by the lame expedient of positioning it in a garage workshop set. And the Citroen Traction, again unrestored, has what might be called in some circumstances a characterful patina but, in a museum that should be showing its audience what an incredibly advanced car this was in its time, it just comes across as a wrinkled oldie.

But these are niggles. You can spend a long time there, the vehicles are imaginatively displayed following a history of the motor car (though they are lit more for dramatic effect than forensic investigation by the nerdish) and there is a changing exhibition on the Ground Floor. Well worth a visit.

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