History of NSU:
The first generation Prinz was
available in a saloon body with an upright roof line and
seating for four people. The noisy twin cylinder engine was
located at the back where it drove the rear wheels via a
"crash" gearbox (later versions gained synchromesh). In 1958
a little coupé was added, the Sport Prinz.
The Sport Prinz was designed by
Franco Scaglione at Bertone studios in Turin. Approximately
20,831 were manufactured between 1959 and 1967. The first
250 bodies were built by Bertone in Turin. The rest were
built in Neckarsulm at a company called Drautz which was
later bought by NSU.
First models had the Prinz 30 engine (583 cc), later ones
had the 598 cc of the Prinz 4.
The NSU Prinz 4 replaced the original Prinz in 1961. It got
a new body, very similar to the Chevrolet Corvair, but of
course much smaller. Like the original Prinz, it was powered
by a 2-cylinder, air-cooled engine in the rear. The Prinz 4
was much improved and continued to be a well-engineered car,
like its predecessors. The engine carried on the tradition
of eccentric rod driven camshaft inherited from NSU
motorcycle engines and interestingly had a dynastart
combined starter/generator built into the crankcase. Later
four cylinder engines adopted the more conventional
(pre-engaged) separate starter motor and alternator.
The NSU Prinz evolved into the somewhat larger bodied NSU
1000, NSU 1000TT, NSU 1200TT and NSU TTS models, introduced
in 1963. All had the same body with 4-cylinder aircooled OHC
engines and were frequently driven as sports cars, but also
as economical family cars as well. The engines were very
lively, and highly reliable. Paired with the low total
weight, excellent handling and cornering, both the NSU 1000
and the much higher powered NSU 1200 TT/TTS outperformed
many sportscars. Even today more than thirty years later, it
remains difficult finding an economical car for seating four
to five adults with such high levels of performance,
handling, reliability and robustness.
In 1965, an even larger model was added, first called Typ
110, from 1967 on NSU 1200. It offered more place, so it was
a better family car, but it was not as sporty as the smaller
models. Therefore, the NSU 1200TT used the 1200 cc engine of
the 1200, but in the smaller body of the NSU 1000.
When NSU was acquired by Volkswagen, the name was changed to
Audi-NSU AG, and the small, rear-engined NSU models were
quickly phased out, as they were far too competitive against
Volkswagen's own Beetle. It was after acquisition of NSU
that the VW organisation became known for making affordable
modern front-engine cars.