Please note that the cars or exhibit items shown in this database are part of our collection but may not be on display when you visit.
The NSU trademark was first used in 1892. Motorcycle production began in 1901, and the first NSU-badged car was introduced at the Berlin Motor Show in 1907. Car production stopped in the late 1920s while the company prospered with motorcycles. Although the factories were destroyed by repeated air raids in 1944-45, by the mid 1950s, NSU was the world’s largest motorcycle maker. Predicting the end of the motorcycle boom, they turned their attention back to cars. NSU, probably better known as a motorcycle maker than a car maker, ceased motorcycle production in 1963.
In 1955 development began on a small 4-seater car, and in 1956 the first NSU Prinz cars rolled off the line. Introduced at the 1957 Frankfurt Motor Show, NSU’s tagline read, “Fahre Prinz und Du bist König”, i.e. Drive a Prince and You’re a King. The Prinz line was updated several times, and was quite successful, remaining in production well into the 1970s.
Lane Motor Museum loaned this 1959 NSU Prinz 1 for James May’s segment on the Apollo space program for Season 3, Ep. 9 of Amazon Prime’s The Grand Tour. Most astronauts drove Chevrolet Corvettes that were given to them by GM, but Mercury astronaut John Glenn instead drove an NSU Prinz 1. The Prinz got better fuel mileage than the Corvette, as Glenn had a longer commute than his fellow astronauts, allowing him to save for his children’s college fund; the more economical Prinz made financial sense.
Manufacturer: NSU Motorenwerke AG
Country of Origin: Germany
Drivetrain Configuration: Rear engine, rear wheel drive
Engine: 583cc, 26 hp, 2 cylinder, air cooled transversely mounted
Transmission: 4 speed manual
Top Speed: 62 mph
Years of Production: 1956-62
Number Produced: 94,549
Original Cost: $1,195