Those of us into ‘vintage’ motorcycles recognize the German brand NSU, but how much do we know about NSU? WOW…what a history! Here’s the ‘Readers Digest’ version. NSU was a little company making sewing machines in the late 1800’s, they moved on to bicycles and then in 1901 built a motorcycle powered by a Swiss engine. The first NSU was a 234cc, 1.75 HP model with a top speed of a thrilling 31MPH! Side note here, if you live in Southern California or New York City, 31 miles per hour is thrilling!!!
As the founders got more in to motorcycles, development moved faster. In 1905 they developed the first V-Twin with a 3HP motor, in 1909 NSU built the first 1000cc V-Twin. Then came WW1. During that period of time there isn’t much history I could find to fit in this ‘Readers Digest’ version, except that NSU started building cars in 1905 and in 1932 sold the auto business to Fiat. Then came WW2.
Bikes that were built during that time were all sent off to war. After the war, NSU resumed commercial manufacturing. NSU was building cars and bikes. By the 1950’s NSU was huge. In 1953 they developed the first overhead cam pushrod engine, in 1955 they were the worlds largest auto manufacturer, they held four world land speed records (the first of over 200mph!). In the 1960’s NSU became the first to use the ‘Wankel Rotary’ engine in an automobile. There is a lot more to the NSU story and I’m looking forward to digging deeper.
What started this interest for me was this really neat 1937 NSU ‘Pony’ I found on ebay this morning. It has it’s own unique story. During that period the Nazi’s were confiscating vehicles from citizens to use in the war effort, this little Pony somehow escaped (the story is in the ebay posting), now, whether the story is true or not…who cares, it’s a cool little story. The ‘Pony’ is a simple little 98cc 2-stroke motorcycle with a 3 speed, hand shift transmission. It has classic styling, a pillion seat and looks beautiful. The seller says it’s all original…but??? It almost looks too good to be all original? It is a runner, it has all the original paperwork and ‘Third Reich’ license papers and plate…pretty cool.
If you need a bike to add to your German collection or even better want a really special bike from a company with a great history click on the pictures below for more info and more pictures.