Oil company road maps from Austria

Austria flag

After the first World War, Austria had to find a new position in Europe, and saw itself as a possible rival to neighbouring Switzerland for attracting wealthy tourists to its ski-slopes and mountain resorts. Despite this, few tourists made their way there by car between the wars, so Austrian road maps from this era are quite uncommon.

1937 Shell map of Austria Map extract from 1937 Shell map 1937 Shell station at Purkersdorf
1937 Shell station at Bruck
1939 Shell map of Linz
The three images on the left above all come from a 1937 Shell map of Austria that was jointly produced with the Österreichischen Automobil-Club by Ed. Hölzel in Wien (Vienna). As the map extract shows, it used differing symbols for states of road and reveals that Austria was still divided on which side of the road to drive! In the West, motorists drove on the right but further East they drove on the left. The blue dotted line marks the border, which passed through the village of Pack, about 70km W. of Graz. Note also the legend "Überall in Jugoslavien" next to a Shell pump, indicating that Shell products could also be found South of the border. Although Shell stations are not located on the map (except at those border posts with Shell-pumps), it does also include two photos - one of a modern outlet at Purkersdorf b. Wien, and one of a picturesque mountain station at Bruck a.d. Großglocknerstraße.
In 1938 Hitler annexed Austria and the German Shell map programme was extended to cover the new territories. Map 91 (above right) covers the city of Linz and dates from ca1939.

Post war issues - 1945-59

Top of PageAfter the Second World War, Austria was partitioned by the Allies until 1955, and branded petrol was unavailable in the Russian sector. Consequently, petrol companies were slower to reintroduce map programmes promoting their chains, although examples are known from Mobilgas and Gasolin. Under the 1955 treaty all the former German oil assets (which included the BV-Aral, Gasolin and Nitag chains, as well as smaller firms such as Donau-Oel and WIFO) passed to the Russians in an organisation called MARTHA, in exchange for their relinquishing the monopoly in the East of the country. However when the Russians withdrew, the Austrian state took over these operations which were consolidated under the Aral brand name. As a result Aral was the largest petrol company in the country until the early 1990s, when the Martha elements were transferred to OMV.
1954 Gasolin map booklet of Austria

1954 Austrian Gasolin outlets by primary function
1954 Austrian Gasolin outlets by primary function

This 1954 Gasolin map booklet has 11 double pages of maps by Freytag-Berndt, allowing the cartographer's standard scale of 1:600,000 to be used. A station listing is annexed at the rear, and usefully indicates the primary function of most of the locations where Gasolin fuels could be bought. Of the 182 outlets - which were still restricted to the Western sectors of the country - only 40 were primarily listed as being filling stations (Tankstelle or Großtankstelle). The largest category were 60 Kaufhaus, most probably pumps outside a village general store, and the third category were Guesthouses and hotels - with 26 sales locations. Relatively few were attached to garages or car or truck repair workshops, although many of the 28 undefined sites may have fallen into this category. Seven were at agricultural engineers (Landmaschinenhaus) and one - which was the Graz location later branded Genol - was attached to an agricultural co-op. Among the others were Gasolin pumps at a car park, a chemists, a tyre depot, a driving school and a textile works.

pre1955 Mobil map of Austria ca1955 BP map of Austria

Most companies eventually produced maps in the 1950s, with the Mobil map dating from before 1955 when Mobilgas was not on sale in the Russian sector. BP started a sequence of maps from Platzer (later absorbed by Freytag-Berndt) with a relatively large format in the early 1950s: the example is from around 1955.

ca1959 Aral map of Austria

ca1959 Shell map of Eisenstadt

Aral was the largest brand after it acquired Gasolin in the late 1950s, as it was also the brand used on the Austrian state's Martha stations. Although it's not clear on the scan, this ca1959 Aral map has a Martha dealer stamp from a garage in Bludenz. At the end of the decade Shell again started to issue city maps, this time for all eight of the provincial capitals, including Eisenstadt which had a population of under 10,000 and so is possibly the smallest town in Europe to have been given the honour of its own petrol company map. All four maps above locate service stations for their respective issuers.

Growth in the 1960s

Top of PageAs in many European countries, during the 1960s the older streetside pumps were replaced by newly built service stations, using common designs for each main company. This expansion, and a desire to create a strong brand image, resulted in a golden era for maps issued by petrol companies.
1964 Esso map for Innsbruck Winter Olympics 1967 Esso map of Austria 1965 Shell section 2 (Salzburg) 1964 PAM map of Austria ca1968 Mobil map of Austria
Esso issued maps typical of its wider European map programme. The special map for the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck was prepared by Freytag-Berndt, but its standard issue was by the German firm of Karl Thiemig. Esso was the only firm to include Yugoslavia on its main Austrian maps - earlier issues also covered Greece!
As well as a national map sheet, Shell covered Austria with six sectional maps at 1:500,000, again by Freytag-Berndt. In the mid-1960s they were issued back to back (section 2, above, covered Salzburg province and part of Oberösterreich and was backed by the Tirol and Vorarlberg). By 1969 Shell had dispensed with a cover, and released the maps as single A3 sheets marking their service stations, but backed with brief touring information, summarising attractions in the main tourist towns with boxes for castles, spas and motor-boating.
In the late 1960s the state's OROP outlets were merged with the Dutch-owned PAM chain to form Elan and this map is one of the last produced by PAM before the merger. Mobil issued a typically tall map at the end of the decade; Rudolf Hautzinger prepared the maps inside.

Fewer maps in the 1970s/80s

Top of PageAs elsewhere, the first oil price crisis led to the start of widespread closures of marginal service stations. Fewer maps appear to have been produced in Austria in this period, and they were no longer available for just a few groschen, as can be seen from the BP map below which cost 6 schillings.
1973 Elan map map of Austria ca1977 BP map of Austria 1970s (?) Texaco map of Austria 1978 Agip map of Austria1980 Aral map of AustriaElan and BP continued to use large format maps from Freytag-Berndt/ Platzer - these come from 1973 and ca1976/7.

They were joined by Texaco which had acquired DEA, and used a similar style of map.
Image courtesy Walt Wimer Jr,

In contrast Agip had Hallwag prepare its 1978 map, featuring the Brenner motorway on the cover. Aral's maps followed its international style, being prepared in Germany by Busche - this one dates from 1980.

The 1990s return to plenty...

Top of PageAustria is unusual in that all major companies continued to issue branded maps right into the 1990s, long after programmes had been curtailed in most other lands. The maps shown here are only a small selection of the range of issues that have been issued in the decade. However there appears to have been a distinct curtailing of map programmes at the end of the 90s into the new century.
1996 Esso map of Vienna 1997 Shell map of Vienna ca1996 OMV map of Vienna 1998 Aral map of Austria 1998 Avanti map of Austria
Austrian petrol companies have issued a plethora of maps, street plans and road atlases in the 1990s. These three examples of street maps of Wien (Vienna) all date from 1996-7: Esso and OMV used Freytag-Berndt, but Shell used Fleischmann u. Mair. The OMV map is reversible, with a national map on the other side. OMV was a name introduced at the start of the decade as the former Martha outlets were removed from the Aral brand; by 1999 Elan had also been subsumed into OMV, as well after the former Total chain. Aral continued to have a small operation in Austria and produced a range of maps and atlases for sale or free distribution as its service stations. The 1998/9 map was for free issue, marking Aral locations on a 1:600,000 map by Ed. Hölzl. Also for free distribution, the Avanti map represents the smaller brands of petrol that have seized a significant market share in Austria since 1980, although Avanti itself was sold to OMV in 2003. Avanti's Freytag-Berndt map again located its service stations, including some that it had recently taken over from Shell.

...but few maps again in the 2000s

Top of PageDespite the significant number of maps on offer at the very start of the decade, few new titles appear have been produced since 2000. Most service stations just sell Freytag-Berndt maps, with a few stocking other cartographers' issues including Marco Polo (Mairs) or Falk.
ca2007 OMV atlas of Austria and Europe

Both maps shown here are atlases produced by Freytag-Berndt in 2007. OMV's is a stock spiral bound atlas of Austria at the scale of 1:150,000, with a small European section at 1:3.5mn. Doppler, which supplies almost 200 stations under the BP, Turmöl, Shell and Arriva brands, sells a bespoke atlas at 1:500,000, marking all its stations with a blue blob. Both have street plans of the provincial capitals, adding all European capitals (including Chisinau and San Marino!) in OMV's case, and the Austrian city of Wels for Doppler. OMV's atlas cost €16,95; Doppler's around half the price.

2007 Doppler Atlas of Austria

This map is something of a curiosity, as it is a ski-map (not a road map) of Kärnten (Carinthia), produced jointly by Agip and the local tourist board for the 2007-8 season, and given away at Agip service stations. As well as a relief orientation map of the province, it includes ski-maps for 13 resorts, plus information on holiday packages and a competition. The maps were based on designs drawn as far back as 1976 by Kartographie Moser. It is unlikely that any other provinces were covered by similar maps.

2007-8 Agip ski map of Carinthia

Other Austrian Petrol Maps

There are a number of other Austrian maps shown on this site, including relatively recent examples from the independent brands A1 and Genol. Older maps are shown shown from Aquila, Montan Union and OROP, and there are several more maps shown on pages for BP, Agip, Avanti, Esso, Mobil and Shell (in the 1960s and 1990s sections). An AVIA map is also known to exist, but it may have come from the Swiss chain rather than the small Austrian one. TOTAL maps can be found from both Total Austria and Tank Rumwolf, a large distributor based at Klagenfurt in Kärnten.

Top of PageOther brands that may have issued maps, but for which none are known to me, include API, Jet and Sopi. Smaller independents that may have issued maps include Disk and Stroh, which is now owned by OMV. As always, if you can help me out with any of these gaps, please send me an e-mail!

Text and layout © Ian Byrne, 2000-15

All original copyrights in logos and map extracts and images are acknowledged and images are included on this site for identification purposes only.