Rare Rides: NSU's New Way to Wankel, the Spider From 1965 (Part II)
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]
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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.
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