The American car market in the 1950s was a vibrant arena of foreign makes trying to make inroads after Volkswagen’s success (as we discussed in a recent Borgward story). German company NSU made inroads for a brief moment (for example, Ward’s claims over 5,500 were registered in the U.S. in 1959-60), but apparently NSUs were imported into the U.S. over a decade later.
You may know NSU pioneered the use of the Wankel rotary engine in the 1964 Spider, a convertible variant of the Bertone-designed Sport Prinz. The regular Prinz sedan of that era, which was introduced at the end of 1961, was called the Prinz 4 and featured a conventional air-cooled two-cylinder mounted in the rear. A bigger version was introduced in 1963 as the Prinz 1000, which featured an air-cooled OHC inline-four and, two years later, and a similar model on a longer wheelbase was introduced as the Typ 110. This model was later known as the 1200 which, of course, featured a 1.2-liter version of the OHC.
A front suspension with a double-wishbone design, combined with a independent rear suspension, helped them handle almost like a rear-engine BMW. These were popular mid-level cars in the German market at the time, but NSU’s issues with the Wankel led them to be taken over by Volkswagen and merged with Audi, and the brand was dissolved in the mid-1970s.
The Pick of the Day is a 1971 NSU 1200C model, with the C standing for Comfort to signify a higher level of equipment. Most noticeable of this car are the U.S.-spec lighting, including the sealed-beam headlights and side-marker lights that had been mandated since the 1968 model year. Seller claims “the body is extremely straight” with an “extremely solid undercarriage” and that “the interior looks good with the exception of some cracks on the dash.”
The green and tan Teuton hasn’t been on the road since 1981 after accumulating 77,000 miles (yup, not kilometers) per the odometer. The caveat is that “the engine does not turn over due to sitting for a long time,” plus the seller makes no mention of the 4-speed’s condition, so this NSU not for the faint of heart to those not familiar with funky foreign jobs.
The asking price of this NSU 1200 is $9,950. That’s a lot of Deutschmarks for an obscure car that is not running, but where are you going to find another one outside Europe? Cleveland, for starters, as the seller has another one, though infinitely less interesting with an automatic transmission.