NSU Motorenwerke AG: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

NSU Motorenwerke AG, (normally just NSU), was a German manufacturer of cars and motorcycles, which was founded in 1873. It was acquired by Volkswagen Group in 1969. VW merged the company with Auto Union, to eventually evolve into Audi as it is known today.



NSU 6/18 PS Doppelphaeton 1913
NSU 6/30 (1928)
NSU Max Standard

NSU began as a knitting machine manufacturer in the town of Riedlingen on the Danube in 1873, and moved to Neckarsulm, where the river Sulm flows into the river Neckar, in 1884. The company soon began to produce bicycles as well, and by 1892, bicycle manufacturing had completely replaced the knitting machine production. At about this time, the name NSU (from Neckar and Sulm) appeared as brand name.

The first NSU motorcycle appeared in 1901,[1] followed by the first NSU car in 1905. In 1932 the car production in Heilbronn was sold to Fiat.

During World War II NSU designed and produced the famous Kettenkrad, the NSU HK101, a half-tracked motorcycle with the engine of the Opel Olympia.

After the war, NSU restarted in a completely destroyed plant with pre-war constructions like the Quick, OSL and Konsul motorbikes; furthermore, the HK101 continued to be sold by NSU as an all-terrain vehicle in a civil version. The first post-war construction was the NSU Fox in 1949, available in a 2-stroke and a 4-stroke version. In 1953 the famous NSU Max followed, a 250 cc motorbike with a unique overhead camdrive with connecting rods. All these new models had a very innovative monocoque frame of pressed steel and a central rear suspension unit. Albert Roder, the genius chief engineer behind the success story, made it possible that in 1955 NSU became the biggest motorcycle producer in the world. NSU also holds 4 world records for speed: 1951, 1953, 1954 and 1955. In 1956 Wilhelm Herz started at the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah. Herz was the first man to ride a motorcycle faster than 200 miles per hour, in August 1956.

In 1957 NSU re-entered the car market with the new NSU Prinz, a small car with a doubled NSU Max engine, an air cooled two-cylinder engine of 600 cc and 20 hp. Motorbike production continued until 1968. NSU's last production motorcycle was the Quick 50.[2][3]

In 1964 NSU offered the first Wankel engine car of the world: the NSU Wankelspider. In the same year Prinz 1000 and derivatives like the TT and TT/S followed. As a family car the Typ 110 (later 1200SC called) was launched in 1965 with a more spacious body design. The last NSU cars with a conventional four-stroke engine had the air cooled OHC four cylinder engine in common.

In 1967 the sensational 2 rotor, 115 hp NSU Ro 80 was presented to public and soon gained several design awards like "car of the year 1967". Despite its public acclaim, sales of the Ro 80 were disappointing.


Volkswagen Group takeover

The development of the rotary engine was very cost-intensive for the small company. Problems with the tip seals of the engine rotor significantly damaged the brand's reputation amongst consumers. In 1969, the company was taken over by Volkswagen Group, who merged NSU with Auto Union. The new, merged, company was called Audi NSU Auto-Union A.G and represented the effective end of both the NSU and DKW marques with all future production to bear the Audi badge (although retaining the four interlocking circles of Auto Union). The management of the Neckarsulm plant moved to Audi's headquarters in Ingolstadt. Since the small rear engined NSU models (Prinz 4, 1000, 1200) phased out in 1973, the Ro 80 was the last car still in production carrying the NSU badge. Audi never made use of the brand name NSU again after April 1977, when the last NSU Ro 80 was sold.

Even as production of the Ro 80 continued in the Neckarsulm plant, production of larger Audi models like Audi 100 and Audi 200 was started. The Porsche 924 and later Porsche 944 were also assembled in the Neckarsulm plant. Those models were joint venture projects of Porsche and VW, but Porsche did not have the internal capacity to build the 924 and 944. In the present day, Neckarsulm is the production plant for Audi's topline vehicles like Audi A6, Audi A8 and Audi R8. Furthermore, it is the home of the "Aluminium- und Leichtbauzentrum" where Audi's aluminium-made space frame bodies are designed and engineered.

NSU is primarily remembered today as the first licensee and one of only three automobile companies to produce cars for sale with rotary Wankel engines. NSU invented the principle of the modern Wankel engine with an inner rotor. The NSU Ro 80 was the second mass-produced two-rotor Wankel-powered vehicle after the Mazda Cosmo. In 1967, NSU and Citroën set up a common company, Comotor, to build engines for Citroën and other car makers. Only Mazda continued developing the Wankel engine. Mazda currently has a reliable sportscar, the RX-8, in its portfolio looking back on a successful Wankel engine family.

A museum in Neckarsulm, the Deutsches Zweirad- und NSU-Museum, has many of NSU's products on display.

NSU cars

NSU Wankel Spider 1964 - 1967
NSU Prinz 4

NSU produced the following post - war cars:

NSU motorcycles

NSU had several successes in the Isle of Man TT races in the 1950s. NSU holds 4 World records for speed: 1951, 1953, 1954 and 1955. During the 1930s, and in the mid 1950s NSU was the largest motorcycle producer of the world.

The NSU Quickly was the most popular moped of its time. It was produced between 1953 and 1966 in over 1.000.000 examples and still can be found today all over the world as more than 60% were exported.

Military vehicles

  • NSU Kettenkrad halftracked motorcycle (1940-1949)

See also


External links


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