A successful road car as well as the most successful German hillclimber of its time – the small and simple “Prince” was both.
At the Munich Motor Show in 1963, the NSU car company presented several novelties. One of them was the beautiful Wankel/Spider cabriolet with an innovative engine, the other was the slightly more conservative Prinz 1000 model, which represented a larger alternative to the already produced Prinz 4. It also shared the rear-engined concept with it – as its name suggests, it was about air cooled liter four-cylinder with OHC distribution.
The output was only a modest 29 to 32 kW depending on the design, but the car weighed only 650 kg. Buyers soon took a liking to the new NSU, nicknamed the Tausender (Thousand Woman), and after production began in early April 1964 at the new six-line factory in Neckarsulm, 1,150 customers ordered it within the first month.
Its engine could be tuned well thanks to the optimization of the camshaft, Weber carburettors and better exhausts, the ride was helped by lowering the chassis. A very competitive racing vehicle was born, tuned by motorman Siegfried Spiess himself. Instead of pursuing a career as a businessman, he preferred to help his parents at the NSU dealership. The Prinz 1000 took him to the title of German hillclimb champion in 1965, winning eight of the eleven races and finishing second in the remaining three. He also added to this success a victory at the Tour d’Europe and the Corsica rally. He eventually won four mountain climbing titles and retired from racing in 1971.
He also achieved success behind the wheel of the Prinz TT version, which, together with the even better TTS model, was added to the brand’s offer in 1967 after the end of the “better” version of the Prinz 1000 TT with a 1.1 and 40 kW engine. Shortly after the premiere with the TT model, competitor Günther Irmscher won the Tour d’Europe and was also successful in South America in the hands of pilot Bill Allen.
The TTS had more aggressively set deflections and sports shock absorbers, a racing package could be ordered from the factory for even better characteristics, but with this the car lost the ability to drive in normal traffic. The difference between the improved models was also in the engines – the TT had an increased volume to 1.2 liters, the power was 48 kW, but in the racing versions it was up to 96 kW, which could give a good workout from a car weighing up to seven hundred kilos. The top-of-the-line TTS received 52 kW from the liter engine in serial form.
Production of the Prinz ended in 1972, but the car had not yet said its last word. The Jägermeister car you see in the gallery took Wilhelm Bergmeister, the owner of the NSU dealership, who had been racing since 1968, to the German Hillclimb title in 1974. His Prinz TT had 96 kW, enlarged intake and exhaust ducts, a better carburettor and increased displacement, he drove up to 190 km/h.
And since the mountain champion is called a Bergmeister in German, the headlines at the time read “Bergmeister is Bergmeister.” The driver later switched to circuits, finished second in the ETCC series in 1979, and won in an Audi 80 GLE a year later. In a way, he remained loyal to the NSU brand, as Audi bought it in 1969 and closed its factory in Neckarsulm in 1975.