AMAG Classic Day commemorates car assembly
In June 2022, the AMAG Schinznach-Bad premises – the site where the history of the Beetle began in Switzerland in 1948 and where car production ran for decades – staged the first AMAG Classic Day.
AMAG Schinznach-Bad can look back on a long and successful history: the AMAG Group began importing Volkswagen to Switzerland in 1948, followed by Porsche in 1951, Audi in 1967, SEAT in 1984 and Škoda in 1992. Between 1949 and 1972 the import centre Schinznach-Bad also saw the assembly of around 30,000 Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge, DeSoto, Standard, Studebaker and VW Karmann-Ghia vehicles.
Fifty years after ‘Automontage Schinznach’ ceased and one year on from the launch of AMAG Classic, the first in-house centre of expertise for vintage cars and modern classics, the inaugural ‘AMAG Classic Day’ was held in Schinznach-Bad on 25 and 26 June 2022. ‘Automontage Schinznach’ is also the theme of a special exhibition. Former apprentices relate how things were in those days, visitors can get up close with selected ‘Schinznach vehicles’ from 1949 to 1972 and be transported back to the old days on guided tours of the old assembly halls.
We will be delighted to see owners of any ‘AMAG brand’ vehicles that are more than 20 years old – from the VW Beetle to the Chrysler Valiant, from the VW camper van to the Audi quattro, from the Standard Vanguard to the Škoda Favorit, from the SEAT 600 to the Porsche 911. Although the team at AMAG Classic will also be delighted to welcome any owners of other classic and vintage vehicles and, it goes without saying, visitors who do not own a classic car.
Visitors who don’t own a classic but would like to know how it feels to drive one had the chance to test drive one for themselves at Classic Day. There was also food and drink and musical entertainment: a bar, a range of food trucks and a band guarantee a good time for all. There were even attractions and a painting competition for younger visitors. Plus, there was a special highlight in store just a few minutes’ walk from the show ground: part of the historical AMAG collection opened its doors to the public for the first time.
Entrance is free to all visitors, whether or not they are classic car owners.
Opening hours Saturday, 25 June: 12 noon – 8 pm, Sunday, 26 June: 9 am – 4 pm
Automontage Schinznach AG
Switzerland had its own independent car production industry led by the likes of Martini, Turicum and others. Switzerland also fitted top brands with refined bodywork. In addition, foreign manufacturers’ vehicles were fully assembled in Switzerland. Over 70 years ago, Schinznach-Bad became one of Switzerland’s major car assembly centres. In 1947, the opportunity arose to purchase an old cement works with production halls. The factory had become insolvent before the second world war, and during the war years the army used the halls to store straw and hay. That same year, it was converted into what was, at the time, considered a cutting-edge assembly plant for cars. ASAG (Automontage Schinznach AG) began assembling the first Plymouth and Standard saloons in 1949.
But what led a car trading company to assemble vehicles in Switzerland? As is often the case with decisions of this kind, tax regulations played a key role. The amount of duty the Swiss tax authorities levied on complete vehicles from the US was protectionist in all but name. Importing parts, on the other hand, was very cheap because parts created jobs.
Over the years, the tax regulations played less and less of a role, The manufacturing quality of Automontage cars was clearly superior to that of fully assembled vehicles delivered directly from the US. ‘Montage Suisse’ became a label of quality.
Towards the end of the sixties, however, the US car industry became obsessed with the idea that bigger was better when it came to displacement and performance, and the end of the fixed exchange rate between the dollar and the Swiss franc led to a depreciation of the dollar. General interest in the new, bigger Valiants and Darts underwent a steady decline. At the same time, thanks to Auto Union AG, which Volkswagen had acquired, AMAG suddenly had a new, more fuel-efficient range of mid-range and upper-mid-range vehicles in the Audi 90 and Audi 100. The demand for vehicles assembled in Switzerland experienced a steady decline. It was no longer possible to achieve a profitable margin from assembling vehicles. While assembly operations in Schinznach-Bad had begun with a Plymouth, they came to a close 50 years ago after 29,227 units.
The assembly plants at the Schinznach-Bad site were decommissioned.
After a number of modifications, the assembly halls now house a large workshop with a body shop, paint shop and spare parts warehouse. Over 70 years on, Schinznach-Bad is still an important garage site and has been the home of AMAG Classic since 2021.
Our specialist team is dedicated to classic models of all the AMAG Group brands, whether VW Beetle, VW Golf, camper van, Audi quattro, Škoda Favorit, SEAT Ibiza or US vehicle from the Automontage Schinznach days. But the team at AMAG Classic, who are experts in classic vehicles, also love to work with classic and vintage cars of all brands.
Here’s what AMAG Classic offers:
Service and repairs of classic models of all ‘AMAG’ brands (including all vehicles assembled at AMAG in Schinznach-Bad between 1949 and 1972)
Restoration (including bodywork and paintwork in our own workshop)
Replacement parts search
Classic vehicle hire
Purchase and sale of vintage cars and modern classics
AMAG Schinznach-Bad remains a trusted partner of the VW, VW Commercial Vehicles and Škoda brands as well as a service partner for Audi.