By on July 6, 2018

In Part I of this four-part NSU Rare Rides series, we covered the beginning of the NSU brand and its initial product offerings — which included knitting machines. The company moved into bikes and motorcycles, as well as a three-wheeler considered a midpoint between motorcycle and car.

The engineers were certainly busy, but all was not well over at the bank.

By 1929, NSU’s creditors were not happy with the company’s failure to break into the mainstream automotive market, and encouraged the company to conclude its car manufacturing operations. NSU sold its brand new factory’s capacity to Fiat, which then produced NSU-Fiat models. Things were fine for a couple of decades, as Germans happily purchased NSU-Fiat 500s and the like. But NSU was not put off from its goal.

Though NSU was not actually producing any cars at the time, it was dabbling with the idea and commissioning new designs. The company hired an independent designer, Ferdinand Porsche, and asked him to create an aerodynamic family car which would be branded as an NSU. The 1934 Type 32 you see here was the result. NSU ended up passing on the design, thus altering the history of the automobile permanently.

A short while later the inspired shape of the Type 32 helped Mr. Porsche win a contract from one Adolf Hitler, to design his new Volkswagen.

Restarting its operations after the conclusion of World War II, 1946 saw NSU once again produce bikes of regular and motor variety. The company’s motorcycles were particularly  successful, featuring innovative designs in both their engines and suspensions. They also broke numerous speed records, including the 200 mile per hour threshold at Bonneville Salt Flats in 1956.

About a decade later, a legal battle was brewing at the NSU and Fiat offices. The company no longer wanted competitor Fiat cars wearing an NSU-Fiat badge, because across town different cars were being sold as NSU. Fiat still wanted to use the well-known manufacturer’s name on its cars for the German market, where the Fiat name was not as well known.

It didn’t seem the issue could be resolved amicably, so Fiat and NSU gathered their lawyers, and headed to court. In Part III, we’ll find out how it all came down to a piece of paper.

[Images: seller, Wikimedia Commons]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

28 Comments on “Rare Rides: NSU’s New Way to Wankel, the Spider From 1965 (Part II)...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    NSU ended up passing on the design, thus altering the history of the automobile permanently.

    Perhaps. There’s no way of knowing if the design and the factory wouldn’t have simply been seized by the Nazi’s and pressed into service as a “people’s car”.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I see a bit of early Chrysler Airflow in the design of the Type 32, otherwise its very-Tatra inspired, which iirc Porsche briefly worked with one of Tatras designers on the concept that would become the VW Beetle.

    NSU did have decent potential be it the rejected VW prototype design, or the rotary engine which helped Mazda make a name for itself (that and the Miata).

    The rest of this post is OT:
    With the Panther getting a bit rusty I’ll be looking at a “4DSC” Maxima to replace it, what can you tell me about these Corey? Heres the ad if you’re curious, I know that you have a really good eye for cosmetic faults: https://stlouis.craigslist.org/cto/d/lk-1993-nissan-maxima/6631561809.html

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      I’m not Corey, but I do play him on TV.

      At this age, condition matters more than anything else. Little or no rust, look for evidence of past collision repair, window trim not deteriorated too badly.

      You should plan on renewing all the suspension parts (bushings, swaybar links, inner and outer tie rods, struts and all their related bits) to get the sharp 4DSC feel back in the car. The Jatco 4-speed auto should be fine if it operates correctly. Engine will either be the 150hp VG30E single-cam carryover from the ’80s, or the one-generation-only 190hp VE30DE (compact DOHC heads to fit under the Maxima hood). Either way, it’s not going to feel fast by modern standards and will probably need a new timing belt.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        I plan on renewing the suspension one bit at a time, I just hope that parts arent rare/expensive. The engine is the 150mph one, I dont expect super fast speed so long as its quicker than my old Volvos were.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          Research parts online. Be aware of super cheap, no-name Chinese junk. The price is inviting, but finding out it won’t fit after you have the car torn apart to replace it is no fun whatsoever.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Curious that there are no badges on the rear, although it may have been intentionally done. $1000 seems a bit on the “too good to be true” side. If it were a domestic sedan of that age, I’d question it less. Regardless, it wouldn’t hurt to have a shop look it over. For ~$150, it would give you peace of mind. Now, I wouldn’t run if he says it needs more than a tie rod, I mean any car of that age likely will. A good mechanic can tell you if its been wrecked hard or if things look too suspicious. You don’t want to spend a grand and a week later be faced with the choice of dumping it or sinking $2400 into a new transmission or something. But, things like a leaky oil pan gasket or a torn CV boot aren’t reason enough to pass, IMO anyway.

      Good luck with it, or with whatever you find.

    • 0 avatar

      Well hello. I’ve had a busy day today.

      The lack of badges bothers me, and it looks like the tires don’t match. Why are there three antennas drilled into the trunk? that could mean there is some funky wiring stuff left over from whatever dude set them up in the ’90s. I also question (if it’s so nice) why it doesn’t have any plates on it? Maybe it’s been sitting quite a while.

      The state of the sun visors makes me think it’s been an outside car for a long time, lot of UV damage probably present on all plastics. Speaking of, the front bumper is warped on the passenger side.

      Other than what these two covered already, the VQ30 is a very nice engine. I had an I30, and it never really felt underpowered. It doesn’t look like it has rust, but check under the wheel wells, and any bumper to metal seams.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        As I said, you have a good eye for details, thank you for looking it over.

        The antennae thing does bug me both for the wiring and the extra holes, the cheap black one looks to be over where the factory one may have been, but the other two perplex me. I can deal with dumb wiring but I dunno if I want to fill in holes.

        Dont these usually have a badge across the lower strip on the back? I didnt think that came off separately. I’d have to add it back on, if anything I’m worried that the neat “4DSC” badges have been removed.

        If the interior is heavily UV damaged I may have to pass, Nissan made good plastic back then but I dont want to be replacing all of it.

        I THINK the front right corner may have hit something, I noticed that myself in close ups. I’m suspicious at the lack of a decent front end shot myself.

        Really my biggest concern is the back end nonsense though, I’ve had a few cars with custom radios, 2 out of 3 had battery issues from cheap exposed wiring I had to remove. Then you have the antennae, by the time thats patched up this car will look like an ex-cop cruiser.

        At JohnT:
        Good advice on the inspection! The transmission could be an issue, its a known weak point for this generation of Maxima if you’re rough on it.

        If you’re curious as to what else I’m looking at its kinda oddball stuff. An ’85 Camry (the dork generation), an LTD Crown Vic (this one could be a pita), hopefully I’ll be able to announce what I get in a more fitting topic. My P71 has been a great car, I just wish Ford had better white paint back then!

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          I had an ’86 Camry LE, it left me walking enough that I swore off Toyotas. Watch for a 2-3 shift flare/jerk, mine had it bad. It would also randomly stall and refuse to crank for quite a while. Toyota dealer could find nothing wrong. The last time it did that on me, I traded it in.

          Also, the Neutral Start Safety switch failed on me, and since a replacement could only be had from Toyota (at that time any way), I bought a used one and it lasted a whole week, lol. I ended up by-passing it, which allowed the car to start in drive, but at least it would start. Sometimes. When it felt like it, which was evidently not in the middle of a busy intersection in Everett Washington during rush hour on a Friday evening.

          This was a one-owner that didn’t have many miles (about 100k less than my Taurus does now), and it wasn’t that old at the time. I’m not saying every Camry will be like mine, just like I can’t say every Taurus will be as good as mine. Just relating my experiences.

          You want oddball? Lol let me scan St. Louis craigslist.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

      I’d also be wary of what I’m 99% certain is an aftermarket sunroof installation.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    I had an ’86 Camry LE, it left me walking enough that I swore off Toyotas. Watch for a 2-3 shift flare/jerk, mine had it bad. It would also randomly stall and refuse to crank for quite a while. Toyota dealer could find nothing wrong. The last time it did that on me, I traded it in.

    Also, the Neutral Start Safety switch failed on me, and since a replacement could only be had from Toyota (at that time any way), I bought a used one and it lasted a whole week, lol. I ended up by-passing it, which allowed the car to start in drive, but at least it would start. Sometimes. When it felt like it, which was evidently not in the middle of a busy intersection in Everett Washington during rush hour on a Friday evening.

    This was a one-owner that didn’t have many miles (about 100k less than my Taurus does now), and it wasn’t that old at the time. I’m not saying every Camry will be like mine, just like I can’t say every Taurus will be as good as mine. Just relating my experiences.

    You want oddball? Lol let me scan St. Louis craigslist.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      I’m curious if the “shift flare” is a common thing, this was one of the earlier cars with an electric transmission so I could see there being bugs Toyota quickly sorted out.

      My only experience with the old Camry is looking at one at a super shady car dealer, they hid rust and a serious coolant leak. After a year of not selling it the car ended up at a Pick n Pull. Had it been drivable PnP would have sold it as a driving unit so something must have bugged up.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I have no idea if its common, but the Toyota dealer didn’t seem to be too surprised with it.

        Your story of a shady dealer and the car ending up junked reminds me of a 1987 Tempo LX I looked at on a pot lot. It had neglected maintenance, had a busted windshield and they wanted over retail (book) for it. I made an offer (admittedly lowball), they rejected it, and I walked. A few months later, I ended up with a 1987 Tempo coupe, which I wrote about in the K car article a few days ago. I found the LX at pull-a-part, and I bought its grille for the coupe. I know what that junkyard paid for cars (I outbid them at auctions before), and my offer to the dealer was quite a bit more. I bet they wished they had taken my offer.

        I was actually at the dealer looking for something to replace the Camry. I ended up getting a 1990 Ford Festiva L at a different dealer, which I traded the Camry for (I only paid the taxes on the Festiva out-of-pocket). Only car I’ve ever traded in at a dealer. I had actually stopped to look at an ’80s BMW 318i coupe, but its engine was louder than my dad’s 7.3L PowerStroke (the engine itself, not bad exhaust), and I spied the Festiva in the back (they had just got it in) and liked it, so it worked out.

        I hate slimy dealers with a passion. There are good people in the car business, but you’d hardly guess that after dealing with some of those [email protected]$Гards.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    I had an ’86 Camry LE, it left me walking enough that I swore off Toyotas. Watch for a 2-3 shift flare/jerk, mine had it bad. It would also randomly stall and refuse to crank for quite a while. Toyota dealer could find nothing wrong. The last time it did that on me, I traded it in.

    Also, the Neutral Start Safety switch failed on me, and since a replacement could only be had from Toyota (at that time any way), I bought a used one and it lasted a whole week, lol. I ended up by-passing it, which allowed the car to start in drive, but at least it would start. Sometimes. When it felt like it, which was evidently not in the middle of a busy intersection in Everett Washington during rush hour on a Friday evening.

    This was a one-owner that didn’t have many miles (about 100k less than my Taurus does now), and it wasn’t that old at the time. I’m not saying every Camry will be like mine, just like I can’t say every Taurus will be as good as mine. Just relating my experiences.

    You want oddball? Lol let me scan St. Louis craigslist.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    https://stlouis.craigslist.org/cto/d/81-zephyr/6624526094.html
    ^I would buy that one NOW, even if the [email protected]$$ thinks it has 4k miles. I wouldn’t care if it had 204k, I’d love it.

    https://stlouis.craigslist.org/cto/d/1990-oldsmobile-cutlass-low/6636323909.html
    ^Ransom says there are many miles left in that one.

    https://stlouis.craigslist.org/cto/d/96-chevy-corsica/6635982337.html
    I’d drive it.

    https://stlouis.craigslist.org/cto/d/1996-toyt-camry-sw/6625066951.html
    One for Gtem

    https://stlouis.craigslist.org/cto/d/toyota-camry-trade/6624715452.html
    Trade Queen Victoria for it.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Mileage is a bit high on the blue Camry, thats not a bad generation though for sure. Thank you for the suggestions.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        That is just stuff I’d drive, but I’m a weirdo. I would love that Zephyr, assuming it had the Inline 6. I had two, I miss them badly, I plan to have another one day.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          I heard that I6 was the engine to get on that one, for the good ol’ 5.0.

          I kinda respect that era of Fairmount/Zeyphr, they were essentially Fords interpretation of the Volvo 240 (boxy RWD mid sized sedan with a 2.3 4 cylinder). I had a fox-Mustang that wasnt too bad beyond a constant stalling issue that no one could sort out.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            I had a 1983 Zephyr GS sedan, same color as that one, but with the better interior. I also had a 1978 Z-7 coupe. Both had the 3.3L 6, I loved rhem.

            It was a reliable engine, but I plan to put the 250 cid that they put in the Granada, put the Australian aluminum head with MPFI. I also plan to upgrade it to 5 lug using parts from a 1990s Mustang, and use a 5 speed from one as well. You can find such a Mustang with a blown 3.8L for cheap.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Oh look…an actual car article…and 18 replies. There was a time when this comentariat was considered “the best and the brightest” with respect to cars. I am not even convinced that 3/4 of them actually like cars now. And what is with breaking this article up? Is Farago back with his strict word count? One can only dream I guess.

    Having said all that, NSU is a great story that I am glad is being told here. Again, I am greatly saddened that a Wankel story gets a whopping 18 responses. Car people my butt. If the headline said “mid sized truck” or Trump this would be at like 200 responses. Think about that.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      And Bertel would have written an article about having sex in one of these

    • 0 avatar

      There is a word length limit – not even reviews can be longer than 1500-1600 words. Standard news/feature posts are 300-600 words in length.

      People don’t *read* things longer than that, so may as well break it up into sections.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Well Corey, I can’t argue with the people won’t read it of it is longer bit. You are not wrong. I’m really not trying to be a prick…I know you guys aren’t exactly raking it in for your work here…I just really miss the automotive discussion and wish we could limit all the other stuff. It is relevant, I will grant that, but does it really need to comprise such a high percentage of the content? I know clicks pay the bills and this excellent story hasn’t been killing it in that department, but maybe less of the clickbait would drive away some of the a$$hattery.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    And your only comment is complaining about other commenters, the subject matter barely gets a mention.

    Its not like a lot of us have experience with NSUs, or even rotory engines at all. I enjoyed the article (and the series its a part of), but I have nothing to add since its not a subject I’m familiar with. I’m sure many others are similar.

    Since when is it a bad thing for “car guys” to comment on midsize trucks? So far as politics goes, yeah, lots of people have strong opinions that inevitably clash with others’ strong opinions. Duh.

    There are some here who don’t seem to like cars at all, I grant you that. One in particular has a screen name that rhymes with “SandRoyalty”.

    And yes, an unrelated sex story is just what is needed to get the car conversation going. I’m sure Jack B. can conjure up something for you.

    *edit, damn, this site is buggy lately. I replied to Art Costanza and it ends up here. And I bet I’ve had to login 20 times in the past few days. Plus, the multiple posts of my comment above

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I am just sick of the deluge of politics and was excited to see a car article. And…like 18 comments.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I get that, and I feel the same way, man. But, a rare German car from post WWII isn’t likely to spark hot debates that rage on and on (unless someone found a way to make it political, of course). I don’t like all the politics, either. Like you, I come here for cars, not Trump vs the world 24/7. If I wanted to discuss that stuff (and believe me, I don’t), there are plenty of sites that cater to it.

        I also get why the subject is brought up here, tariffs and such do affect the car world, so its unavoidable to some degree. I try to ignore the articles on the subject, because if I read some of the comments, I tend to respond and feed the trolls. And, that’s exactly what leads to 200 comments on a “Trump sneezed in a Mercedes once, more tarrifs coming?” article.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • SPPPP: If he had kidnapped a Walmart customer FROM WALMART, then I think so.
  • Lightspeed: The roof at the header is rusting on my 2000 Lexus. It’s really irritating because it’s in a...
  • Lie2me: They also had a maple leaf on the steering wheel hub
  • DevilsRotary86: Back in 2015/2016 when I was considering a new car, Mr Kyree Williams on here suggested that I should...
  • Superdessucke: This makes me realise how much I miss the hot hatch. We have the ancient GTI which is pretty much...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States