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Imperial Speed

Imperial Speed

High-speed vehicles of the Habsburgs 1814 – 2014

Opening in May 2018, visitors to the Imperial Carriage Museum are now able to admire an exceptional and ultra-modern exhibit: The “ArtCar” was designed in 2014 by the artist collective Sabina Lang and Daniel Baumann for the young racing driver Ferdinand Habsburg. The son of Karl and Francesca Habsburg is regarded as a promising Formula 1 candidate. With his first artistically styled racing car (a Formula Renault 1.6), he follows in the footsteps of his illustrious ancestors: they also enjoyed driving fast, and their magnificent vehicles now on show in the Imperial Carriage Museum have always been decorated by outstanding artists.

The museum’s completely redesigned permanent exhibition with sophisticated architectural installations and compelling lighting effects first takes visitors on a journey through life at court from 1700 to 1918, with a particular focus on “Empress Elisabeth – The Lady Diana of the 19th century”. By contrast, the last section of the tour is dedicated to the subject of “Imperial Speed” and showcases three remarkable vehicles from three different centuries. To begin with there is an extremely elegant ornamented “biroccio”, a two-wheeler with a gold-plated chassis and artistic decoration. The vehicle was built for Emperor Franz I in 1814 as his personal sports cart: it was driven two in hand and reached speeds of up to 16 km/h.

Exactly 100 years later, completely different possibilities had already opened up. Whereas Emperor Franz still had to make do with two horsepower, his descendant Emperor Karl I had no fewer than 45 hp at his disposal. Constructed in 1914, this “im-perial car” is the only surviving court automobile.  It has a petrol engine, 5 gears (including reverse) and reached breathtaking speeds of up to 90 km/h. The emperor enjoyed driving it himself on private journeys, though on official trips there was always a chauffeur at the wheel. The third and last exhibit is the “ArtCar” (140 hp and 230 km/h) created exactly a century later. This was the vehicle with which Ferdinand Habsburg, the great-grandson of the last emperor, catapulted this illustrious series into the 21st century.

The Habsburg tradition of artistically decorated vehicles began around 1500 with Dürer's triumphal procession and lasted until the end of the monarchy in 1918. With the ArtCar this tradition finds an exciting new beginning that translates the complex relationship between power, art and speed into the formal language of our time.

Discover more exciting videos about the exhibitions at the Imperial Carriage Museum on our YouTube channel.

About Ferdinand Habsburg

Ferdinand Habsburg was born in Salzburg on 21st June 1997 as the son of Francesca and Karl Habsburg. After gaining his first experience with a go-kart at the age of eight, in 2014 the young racing driver started racing automobiles with ArtCar. Thanks to his many successes, he has already made a name for himself as a talented young driver whom experts regard as a promising candidate for Formula 1. In 2017 he achieved no-table wins in the Formula 3 European Championship. Besides a number of podium wins, on 28 July 2017 he achieved an impressive victory on the legendary Ardennes racing circuit of Spa-Francorchamps. He also attracted international attention in the dramatic unofficial race of the Formula 3 World Championship in Macao last November, when an accident in the last corner prevented him from gaining yet another spectacular victory.

About the artists

Sabina Lang (*1972) and Daniel Baumann (*1967) live in Burgdorf (Switzerland) and have been working together since 1990. Their work includes installations, sculptures, large wall or floor paintings and architectural interventions. The two artists work in a wide range of materials – wood, metal, paint, carpet, inflatable structures: Their real medium, however, is space. Most of their works are site-specific, though some are modular and can be adapted to different situations. Many of the works can not only be viewed, but also used; others merely feign usability, or cleverly sabotage it. By precisely analysing each location and the context of their interventions in advance, the artists enter into a dialogue with the situations they encounter. Lang/Baumann question accepted standards and patterns of perception – often in a playful way. With their opulent imagery, they consciously embark on a tightrope walk between clearly defined areas: public and private space, the familiar and the unfamiliar, art and functionality.

Amongst other venues, their work has been shown at the Centre d’Art Contemporain (Chelles, France), FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais (Dunkerque, France), the Wilhelm Hack Museum (Ludwigshafen, Germany), Kunsthalle Bern, Zentrum Paul Klee (both Bern, Switzerland), Fundación Proa (Buenos Aires, Argentina) and Futako Tamagawa Station area (Tokyo).

Further information can be found at


About the design

The motif of a multi-coloured striped wave developed by Lang/Baumann adapts perfectly to the shape of the car, emphasizing its sporty appearance with brilliant colours. However, at the same time, the strictly graphical wave shape stands in clear contrast to the object itself by dynamically superimposing its shapes.

“The exciting challenge for us was to develop a painting which we knew would remain incomprehensible as a whole. Although designed as a cohesive drawing, each side of the object displays a completely different picture as it flashes past you.”



Museum of Carriages and Department of Court Uniforms
Schloß Schönbrunn, 1130 Wien

Opening hours

15.3. until 30.11.
Daily, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
1.12. until 14.3.
Daily, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Holiday opening hours

Technical specifications of ArtCar

Formula Renault 1.6
Year of construction: 2014
L: 4.12 metres
B: 1.67 metres
H: 0.99 metres
Engine: Renault 1.6 litre displacement
Transmission: 5 speed sequential
Weight: 485 kg
Maximum performance: 140 hp at a maximum engine speed of 6,750 rpm

Maximum speed: 230 km/h

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