The NSU Motorenworke AG in then West Germany produced the NSU Prinz (Prince) car from 1958 to 1973. During this time there were several models built. The company founder was Christian Schmidt.

prinz 1200 tt
1967 Prinz 1200 TT

NSU Motorenworke AG

NSU actually began by two young mechanics as a knitting machine manufacturer. Next the company took on building bicycles which at the time was a hot selling item. Next, not surprisingly, were motorcycles. The first being introduced in 1901. By 1903 the company was building motors with some six models available.

Without stooping building motorcycles which were selling well, NSU began building automobiles with the first being introduced in 1905. This car had a 3 horsepower engine. In 1909 the cars sported V-twin motors.

During World War One NSU produced vehicles both cars and motorcycles, for the Wehrmacht. After the war and into the 1920’s,NSU was very active with race cars. When World War Two opened up on the Continent, NSU was told to produce motorcycles and half-tracks for the Nazis. It was during the war that the NSU factory in Nackarsulm, thus the name “NSU”,  was badly damaged in an Allied air raid. Ironically, this occurred just a few weeks before the end of war.

prinz air cooled engines
Four cylinder air-cooled engine

NSU Prinz IV

The  NSU Prinz IV  was introduced in 1961 at the Franfurt Motor Show. The 2-door sedan model replaced the previous Prinz I-III models.

If you think the automobile has a resemblance to the Chevrolet Corvair you’re right. The Prinz was smaller than a Corvair. This Prinz model however was powered by a two cylinder air cooled engine. Top speed for this model was rated at 75 MPH with an advertised 36 horsepower.

NSU Prinz 1000, Type 110 and the 

A larger bodied Prinz 1000 came out in 1963. This automobile had the Prinz IV design with a more lively engine. Coming out in 1965 was the Typ-110 having a larger body as well as a more powerful engine. The Prinz 1000 and the Typ 110 both had air cooled four cylinder rear mounted engines. The Typ 110 and the Type 110 SC, due to the more powerful 66.2 cubic inch engines plus their light weight, could out perform many sports cars. In 1967 the cars were given a 71.8 cubic inch engine.

The Prinz models all had a four speed manual all-synchromesh gear box.

After 1967 the Prinz Typ 110 took on a new name as the Prinz 1200.

The Design for Rear Engined Vehicles

You will find that the rear mounted engine has it’s center of gravity past the rear axle. The fact that the weight of the engine is at the rear, the rear tires have more weight exerted on them thus better traction. Another advantage for automakers is that a rear engine drive trail can be installed as a unit. This can’t be done with front mounted engines and building a rear engine car has manufacturing advantages. With this being said, most automakers no longer build rear engine automobiles with the exception of Porsche.

An iconic automobile with a rear engine you’ve most likely see was the DeLorean DMC-12.

The Wankel Engine and NSU

During the late 1950’s, NSU Motorenworke AG began working with the Wankel engine in which they built a prototype in 1957 and began using it on production models after 1960. The Wankel engine was invented by a German and was an internal combustion engine. In 1961, NSU collaborated with Mazda to do more experiments. The first out with this rotary engine was NSU when they introduced their 1964 Spider model. Mazda displayed their engine at the Tokyo Motor Show that same year.

nsu prinz automobiles
NSU Prinz 1200 TT

The primary operating difference between the Wankel and the piston engine is that instead having pistons moving up and down with a particular firing order, the Wankel has all parts moving in a single direction. The engine by design is lighter than a common piston engine which is a performance advantage.

1961 Prinz 4 Specifications

The Prinz 4 was powered by a four cylinder air cooled engine putting out 36 horsepower. The 1967 Prinz 1200 TT featured in this article is powered by an inline four cylinder engine delivering 65 horsepower. There was also a  1000 cc TTS engine available that could provide 70 horsepower and will a special tune could reach 83 horsepower.

The car’s dimensions included an overall length of 135.4 inches, width of 58.7 inches, height of 53.5 inches and a wheelbase of 80.3 inches.

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prinz 1200 tt dashboard
67 Prinz 1200 TT dashboard

Prinz Automobiles as Collector Cars

The NSU Prinz cars are rare in the U.S. but if you can find one they appear to be reasonably priced.

The cars found are primarily in the U.K. and the Continent. NSU was the first licensee company to build a car using the rotary Wankel engine. As mentioned above, the design of the NSU Prinz IV is smaller but has a remarkable body design similar to the Chevy Corvair.

We have seen a low mileage 1969 Prinz 1200 C with an asking price of $3,900. A 1961 NSU Prinz III (last year for the III’s) with a price of $7,600. We found another adorable 1960 Prinz III for sale in the U.S. for $10,000. You may also see NSU Prinz project cars for sale at significantly lower prices than these.

References used for this article incudes….NSU Prinz 4 by NSU Motorenwerke. For more information regarding the NSU company, there are several good articles on website…..

(Article and photos copyright AutoMuseumOnline,