If NSU isn’t the most recognizable name to you in German car history, you’re not alone. Few remember one of the more creative producers of cars and motorcycles out of Germany, notably, NSU developed the first Wankel rotary engines, pioneered small car designs, and notably developed the first real aerodynamic family sedan in the often praised Ro80. Additionally, the Prinz-based TT and TTS would offer a practical and very sporty package to the masses in Germany; sound familiar, Mr. 02? Imported in small numbers, there are still a few examples floating around, though show up at most shows and you’ll leave many scratching their heads. Today there is a beautiful example of one of the less-celebrated models available, a pristine Prinz 1000:
Year: 1966 Model: Prinz 1000 Engine: 1.0 liter inline-4 Transmission: 4-speed manual Mileage: 61,000 mi Price: $20,000 Buy It Now
You are bidding on an absolutely unique 1966 NSU Prinz 1000 with a four synchronized speed transmission. It was repaired, customized and updated in 2009. It was stored until October 2012 when it was registered and driving it since, taking it out only in nice weather. The engine is standard 998 cc but with a TTS camshaft, manifold and Solex carburetors. TT Oil cooler. It is also updated with a Bosch 65 Amp alternator, Bosch Solid state ignition, remote oil filter, oil thermostat and oil temperature gauge. Priming electric fuel pump. Custom header. The compression ratio is standard 1:7.5 allowing the use of regular gasoline. The car is extremely desirable, people are taking pictures of it every where I go. However, I do not claim the car is perfect and the buyer should have expectation of typical minor blisters, chips and small scratches. Seller makes no guarantee, or warranty expressed or implied of this car, it will be sold “as is”.
While it is a bit of an automotive orphan, the NSU Ro80 is perhaps one of the most significant vehicles of the last 50 years. This car blended aerodynamic styling with advanced technology to create a vehicle unlike anything the world had ever seen. Its twin rotor Wankel engine proved to be a headache for many owners, but the forward thinking design outweighed many of the negatives for would be buyers at the time. Today, these are relatively obscure cars in the US, but are steadily gaining recognition in Europe and beyond. With the twin-rotor Wankel’s thirst, these cars pushed the envelope at a time when the world was going through an energy crisis and consumers began to eschew comfort for economy. This Ro80 for sale in The Netherlands has had but one owner and is complete, right down to the dealer brochures.
Unique! This stunning LHD NSU Ro80 is coming from its original Swiss Owner (all taxes paid) with only 39,000 km’s from new. PERFECT ORIGINAL CONDITION! Full history, including all papers etc.
With the equivalent of 24,000 miles and priced just over $20,000, I’d say this is a very attractive alternative to your typical Mercedes or BMW from the period. The last Ro80 we featured was priced closer to $25,000, so I’d say this example is priced just about right. As time has passed, the Wankel engine has become less troublesome due to modern fixes that cure a lot of the teething issues the cars had from the start, such as apex seals.
While the NSU Ro80 wasn’t a car of any particular firsts, it was the combination of advanced technology that made it seem out of this world upon its introduction in 1967. Yes, you read that right. 1967. While it looks like it could have stepped out of a design studio in the current decade, this is a 45 year old design we are dealing with here.
First and foremost, the engine was the centerpiece of the Ro80 equation. A smooth, twin rotor Wankel that displaced just under one liter powered the car through its front wheels. The transmission was a three-speed semi automatic, similar in concept to Volkswagen’s automatic stick shift. Other forward thinking touches included four-wheel disc brakes, four-wheel independent suspension, power steering and a low coefficient of drag as a result of its streamlined look.
It was unfortunate that so many Ro80s were scrapped due to teething problems with its rotary engine. With the technology available to us today, issues such as apex seal wear can be easily remedied. This particular Ro80 for sale in the Netherlands has been lovingly cared for by one owner over its lifetime.
Rare, beautiful. Had only one owner. No rust, Wankel engine excellent, bodywork excellent, semi-auto transmission excellent. Unique car, collectors item, good investment.
Almost $25,000 USD for an Ro80 is about the top of the market for one of these. Realistically, one in good shape should command anywhere between $10,000 and $15,000. These cars have seen values creep up a bit, if not to the same level as that other avant garde sedan from the period, the Citroën DS. These were the last vehicles to wear the NSU badge, with the last ones rolling out of the factory at Neckarsulm in the Spring of 1977. For all their faults, NSU certainly went out with a bang with this car.…
NSU Motorenwerke was a fascinating company before it was bought by Volkswagen in 1969 and merged with Auto Union to form the Audi brand. Even after the company was absorbed into the Volkswagen conglomerate, certain engineering feats lived on in various models, such as this Volkswagen K70 we featured last year. One of their greatest achievements was being first to market with a rotary engine in their Spider model in 1964. This engine lived on in the impossibly futuristic Ro80 sedan in 1967. While these engines had their teething troubles, these are legendary vehicles in their own right today.
Often glossed over is their smaller Prinz model, which was introduced in 1957 with an air cooled two cylinder engine mounted in the rear. This model paved the way to the NSU 1000, TT and TTS. A popular car on the racing circuit, these were tenacious little beasts that terrorized hill climbs and venues such as the notorious Nürburgring.
Here is a nice example of a 1000 TT for sale in Tenerife, Canary Islands.
Original racing classic, original engine, original color, original upholstery. We also have the original tires with hubcaps. Very difficult to get. Dashboard tachometer goes up to 8,000 rpm.
My father, while stationed in Europe in the late 1960s, used to participate and organize hillclimbs and rallyes in Southern Germany and Austria. He has told me on several occasions that these NSUs were formidable opponents for their time. I’m a personal fan of how such a diminutive little car can have an aggressive look, especially with that Abarth style rear hood cracked open.
Here’s a good video of some of these cars in action at the TT Cup at the Homburger Bergrennen in 2007.
Here is an example of the first vehicle in the world powered by the engine Mazda would later popularize, the Rotary Wankel engine. The name Wankel derives from its inventor, Felix Wankel, who was a German engineer. He created the first prototype of his revolutionary engine design in February 1957, and was first presented in running form in a converted NSU Prinz in 1960. The Spider would debut in 1964 and only 2,375 examples were built between 1964 and 1967. The original engine had around 50 horsepower, but it was a very free revving engine and made for a lively package in such a small car with light weight. NSU Motorenwerke AG was purchased by Volkswagen in 1969. They merged the company with Auto Union which later became Audi.
The seller includes a very comprehensive description. Here is an excerpt:
Excellent Condition!! This car has ALWAYS been stored indoors in a heated space and covered with double quilted car covers. The underside is very, very clean. The photos show a very small area of paint peeling above the rear left bumper and below the license plate. These are hardly noticeable. In the driver’s front under tray there is a hardly noticeable repair at the end of the spoiler.
Values can be tough to pin down on such a rare vehicle, but $19,000 seems reasonable for such a revolutionary and historically significant vehicle. Rest assured, you most likely will be the only one at your local car show with one of these. This example does have a few modifications, but these changes can be forgiven due to the scarcity of parts and efforts to make the vehicle more reliable than when it was first produced. This fantastic vehicle has been featured by Jay Leno in a short video on his website, Jay Leno’s Garage:
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