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NSU Spider with "World's First..." sign

NSU Spider with "World's First..." sign
This name will mean nothing to some. But for fans of classic sports cars, the NSU Spider has become a symbol of madness.

Unfortunately, the magnificent 2-door convertible proved to be the culprit in the failure of the German car company. Founded in 1873, NSU AG produced motorcycles and cars and was famous for its good technical base and innovation.

The emergence of the model

In 1964, the company's management decided to mass produce the world's first machine with a rotary piston engine. Well, risk and courage were among the manufacturer’s virtues.

NSU Spider с табличкой «Первый в мире…» NSU Spider is the world's first car with RPD. Photo: YouTube.com

But the story of Spider turned out to be a bitter experience: following advanced ideas led to the collapse of the company. How could you not introduce something new? After all, the rotor was invented by Dr. Felix Wankel in collaboration with Walter Freude, an employee of the NSU company.

Let's take a look at the model, which fate destined to test the “raw” power unit in practice and become a testing ground.


Outwardly, NSU Spider was an athlete. Users, especially among young people, were attracted by the sleek lines and aerodynamic shape of the roadster. The low-profile convertible with a folding roof had a distinctive wedge-shaped profile, complemented by pop-up headlights and a sloping rear end.

NSU Spider: spectacular front end. Photo: YouTube.com

Machine dimensions:

✅ Length - 3 580 mm
✅ Width - 1 mm
✅ Height - 1 mm
✅ Wheels – 12 inches

The distance between the axles was 2 mm, the weight was 020 kg. Compact and lightweight, the NSU Spider was nimble and confident in movement on a well-designed chassis.


The NSU Spider's interior is a combination of style and convenience. Inside, luxurious leather bucket seats added elegance to the car.

Salon NSU Spider. Photo: YouTube.com

The ergonomic dashboard, made in the style of an “on-board aircraft”, included the instruments necessary for control. There is not much space in the cabin, and even less storage space. But the shortcoming was compensated by the high level of comfort for two passengers.

Features of the layout and characteristics of the engine

The model debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show 1964. An experimental car with a little-studied Wankel engine was built on the basis of the NSU Sport coupe Prince 1959. But the Spider, unlike the Prince, had a radiator grille in front.

The engine is located longitudinally at the rear. The imbalanced weight distribution along the axles was compensated for by a radiator and a 35-liter gas tank: the components were located under the front hood. It is clear that the trunk has become critically small.

NSU Spider engine. Photo: YouTube.com

Gasoline engine parameters:

✅ Volume – 498 cm3
✅ Power - 50 liters. With. at 6,0 thousand rpm
✅ Moment of force - 71 N * m at 2,5 thousand rpm
✅ Maximum speed - 148 km / h
✅ Acceleration dynamics - 14,5 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h

The power plant was paired with a 4-speed manual gearbox. The all-round suspension was independent on springs. There were disc brakes at the front and hydraulic drum brakes at the rear.

Fall of the company

Despite its charisma and innovation, the NSU Spider suffered the fate of a failed project. The car caused the collapse of the manufacturing company. The main problem of the model turned out to be the rotary piston engine technology invented by Wankel.

NSU has tried to lead in this area. But she could not overcome the difficulties she encountered in the production of rotors and the general unreliability of the engine. Design errors RPD, by the way, we analyzed in the earlier material.

In careful hands, the NSU Spider looks amazing. Photo: YouTube.com

Engine problems and the high cost of repairs caused widespread complaints from NSU Spider owners. This led to a serious drop in demand for the model and undermined public confidence in the company.

Ultimately, having produced 2 units, the company stopped the assembly line and closed automobile production. Later, in order to survive, NSU became part of Audi.

At the time of production, the car cost $2, now it costs around $979 thousand.


Photos used: youtube.com

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