The German’s Corvair

At the 1961 Frankfurt Motor Show, NSU then presented the Prinz 4 series, the best-selling and most loved of this model.

If we think of the small cars of the 60s that circulated, for example in Italy, surely come to mind, first of all, the Fiat 500 and 600 among the most popular. In reality in that period a small German car made by NSU made its way; his name was Prinz. At the end of the 1950s, the latter appeared on the market without capturing too much attention; his revenge came, however, in the following years. But let’s come in order, the Prinz was officially born in 1958 at the Neckarlsum Strickmaschinen Union, car manufacturer founded in 1873 and among the oldest in Germany.

The first Prinz was nothing special, it had small dimensions, a high roofline and a 20 HP air-cooled rear engine, which gave it very modest performance. At the 1961 Frankfurt Motor Show, NSU then presented the Prinz 4 series, the best-selling and most loved of this model. The line was revised and, evidently inspired by the American Chevrolet Corvair (obviously with smaller dimensions), it was square, robust and reassuring. From the mechanical point of view, the engine and rear-wheel drive scheme remained the same, while the engine increased in displacement and reached 30 HP.

The car became in all respects a comfortable and reliable car and it was these characteristics that made Prinz 4 a success. The success that will last for a decade and will leave the line almost unchanged, although it must be said that, in 1967, the second series came out, the main changes of which were in the front with a new bumper and a whisker that connected the circular headlights. From the Prinz 4 came the 1000 model, with increased displacement and a car body length, increased by 30 cm, the engine was an air-cooled four-cylinder engine which delivered 43 HP, guaranteeing respectable performance; the latter will be further increased in the TT sports versions with powers that reached 85 HP. In 1965 the Typ110 was born, even larger than 1000, with a new 53 HP engine and in 1967 the Prinz 1200 which due to a greater weight did not have a better performance than 1000. All versions of the model and its derivatives came out of the price lists in 1973. A total of 1,200,000 specimens of the entire range were assembled, including 650,000 Prinz 4.

The NSU brand went into crisis due to the Ro80 model with the Vankel rotary engine, the design of which led to a large investment by the small company, without however finding the desired commercial response. The epilogue came, first with the absorption of NSU by Volkswagen and finally with the definitive closure of the brand in 1977.

Text by Tommaso Lai

Translation by Norman Hawkes

Copyright © Cars Forgotten Stories. All rights reserved.


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