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Nope, we’re not looking at a Beetle this Saturday. While being both German, rear-engined and air-cooled, and of course offering cheap motoring for the public, that’s really where the little NSU’s similarities with the Beetle end. Arguably the small NSU’s were cars of a higher caliber.

When the widely acclaimed motorcycle manufacturer NSU turned their attention to production of automobiles – right from introducing the first Prinz in late 1957 – they were immediately meet with approval especially concerning their engineering capabilities and not least the quality of their product. Those early Prinz were indeed very small cars with only a 2-cylinder engine propelling them forward at a rather sedate pace. But their high level of engineering made them both easy and cheap to maintain, and that in return made them popular with the buying public. A sound base was established and NSU continued to develop the little people’s car from there. Four years after that initial Prinz, they launced the larger Prinz 4, and this lead to the even larger and much more refined Prinz 1000 being introduced late in 1963.

I’ve personally always felt that the three small round taillights either side was one of the visual highlights of the Prinz 1000, lending it a both stylish and rather sporty rear end.

Not only did the Prinz 1000 grow a full 9 inches in wheelbase and 13 inches in overall length, but more importantly, the diminutive air-cooled 2-cylinder 598cc OHV engine was replaced by a much more powerful and refined engine. While still air-cooled, the bigger Prinz was now sporting a 4-cylinder 996cc OHC engine, which quickly proved to be every bit as reliable as the smaller 2-cylinder unit, but naturally also offered much improved performance and comfort, despite its still rather humble 40hp.

 

The design was clearly inspired by the period Chevrolet Corvair, but worked every bit as well in this much smaller packaging.

But the Prinz 1000 wasn’t merely a reliable and economical family car. The new 4-cylinder engine proved to be rev-happy, lively and not least highly responsive to tuning. Add to that the low weight and the excellent handling characteristics, and the little NSU was soon found to be quite the giant-killer on both hillclimbs and tracks. Thus, in 1965 NSU gave us the excellent TT which at first produced 55hp, and then with an increase in capacity to 1,177cc in 1967 upped the power even further to 65hp. And then there was of course the legendary TTS which punched out 70hp in regular road trim while still maintaining the use of the smaller 1-litre engine. However, only about 2,400 examples of the TTS were built, so they are now highly collectable and priced thereafter.

The NSU 1000 TTS was a true giant-killer!

Of course, despite the strong performance both as a family car and an impressive racer, it all came to an end in late 1972. Volkswagen had acquired NSU in 1969, and they now found the superior little NSU to be stealing too much of their Beetles market. So NSU and Auto Union, which Volkswagen had previously purchased, were merged to become Audi, and the rear-engined NSU was killed off, with a very different and more upmarket Audi 50 (basically a posh VW Polo) taking over from 1974, thus leaving the Beetle to continue its reign.

While the epic TTS would obviously be heaps of fun, the ordinary Prinz 1000 makes for a charming little classic car too. Especially now where we at ViaRETRO have been promoting Youngtimers as the affordable way into classic car ownership. Perhaps even more so in light of last weeks Prime Find of the Week, where we went back to look at a proper classic, which however lead to a £30 grand plus entry fee. Found for sale in Northern Ireland right now is proof that a real sixties classic can indeed still be found on a very humble budget. This 1969 NSU 1000 CS seems to present surprisingly well, and highly original retaining its none-TT/TTS oval headlights and a thoroughly stock appearance. The private vendor does admit that the NSU could do with some minor cosmetic repairs, but goes on to say that it’s structurally in exceptionally good condition, mechanically perfect, and with an almost faultless interior. The NSU has covered 97,000 miles from new, is still used regularly, and is supposedly ready to drive anywhere. Here are a few pictures borrowed from the advert:

Even allowing financially for the cosmetic improvements, an asking price of £3,950 does seem quite reasonable to me. Of course it would be nice to know exactly how extensive those repairs will be. Regardless, you’re unlikely to ever meet another one at your local classic car show or on your Sunday drive along your favorite backroad. For the full advert just click here: 1969 NSU 1000 CS

 

 

With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to primefindoftheweek@viaretro.co.uk

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About The Author

Anders Bilidt

My passion for Bavarian classics is profound. But all classics are charming. My fantasies range from Imps over quirky Panhards to my dream Montreal. I appreciate originality, but most importantly, regardless of origin, year or value, classics are meant to be driven. Anders’s keeper is a 1973 BMW 2002. But then there’s also his nerdtastic lust for classics from the Country of the Rising Sun…

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