BF Auction: 1965 NSU Spider

Asking: $11,999Make Offer

Owning a classic car involves dedication and, quite often, sacrifice. Sometimes we must choose between one of life’s luxuries or spending that money on the project parked in our workshop. Some people are more successful in those endeavors and find themselves with more than one classic occupying their garage. That is the case with the owner of this 1965 NSU Spider. It represents part of a small private collection, but the owner’s decision to rationalize means it may be the first of several cars needing a new home. The Spider is a rare vehicle from a small production run, and its drivetrain combination makes it genuinely fascinating. If you feel the need to own a small, rare, and unusual classic, this NSU is listed exclusively here on Barn Finds Auctions.

Like many vehicle manufacturers, NSU (or Neckarsulm Strickmaschinen Union) did not have its beginnings in the automotive industry. Founded in 1873, its roots lay in knitting machine production before venturing into the world of bicycles in 1892. From there, it seemed a natural progression into motorcycles and, eventually, automobiles. Most of its cars fitted into a category between microcars and sub-compacts because they were affordable for customers and inexpensive to run. The company diversified by releasing the Sport Prinz in 1958, with styling by Bertone. In 1964, it took the bold decision to unveil a drop-top version called the Spider, which utilized the Sport Prinz platform. It never sold in significant numbers, with construction ending as the company released its revolutionary Ro 80. This Spider is from the second year of production, and the White paint cloaking its panels is one of only two shades offered by the company on that model. The paint looks pretty nice, raising the possibility that the buyer could leave the exterior untouched to retain the car as a survivor. The panels are straight, and there’s no rust to cause potential buyers sleepless nights. That last fact is unsurprising because NSU had a strong focus on build quality, which meant their offerings were less prone to such problems compared to the competition and standards of the day. There are no missing trim pieces, and any that won’t respond to an old-fashioned polish would be prime candidates for a trip to the platers. Impressively, the car retains its original wheel trims, and although they can be damage-prone, these look excellent. If the new owner elects to leave the exterior untouched, the only parts they need to source are a new convertible cloth top (the mechanism is present) and a replacement windshield.

One of the highlights of this Spider is its interior. If my assessment is correct, the buyer will spend more time than money whipping it into shape. It retains its original vinyl upholstery in a combination of Red and Black, contrasting beautifully against the White exterior. There is no appreciable wear and no evidence of physical damage. The dash looks excellent, and the gauges feature crisp markings and clear lenses. If the factory tachometer doesn’t make the interior feel sporting enough, that sweet two-spoke wheel should seal the deal. I believe that a deep clean would have the interior sparkling like a new penny, meaning this could be the least expensive part of the project.

When anyone mentions the Wankel rotary engine, most people’s thoughts turn to those produced by Mazda. It’s true that Mazda sank considerable money into the development of these revolutionary powerplants. However, other companies were keen to use an engine that seemed to defy logic. The physical dimensions were tiny, and the capacity was small, but the performance became legendary. It is little wonder that General Motors, AMC, and DeLorean had the Wankel on their radar. If you’ve never driven a rotary-equipped car, you’ve missed out on one of life’s great pleasures. You aren’t aware of what feels like genuine torque, but the engine provides eerily seamless acceleration. NSU could see the benefits of the Wankel and its compact dimensions when developing the Spider. Therefore, it produced a single-rotor engine with a nominal capacity of 498cc. That tiny rear-mounted motor churned out an incredible 64hp and 53 ft/lbs of torque, which fed to the road via a four-speed manual transaxle. Combined with an overall weight of 1,508lbs, the Wankel launched the NSU through the ¼ mile in 19.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 95mph. To improve weight distribution and handling, the Spider features a front-mounted nine-gallon fuel tank while stopping duties falling to front disc brakes. This Spider is mechanically complete, and the engine turns freely. It doesn’t currently run, but returning it to that state may not be challenging. Even if a rebuild proves essential, most workshops with Mazda experience should have no issues breathing new life into this giant killer.

Although NSU produced the Spider for four years, only 2,375 rolled out of the factory for worldwide sales. That made them extraordinarily rare when new, and that rarity has only increased as many disappeared over the ensuing decades. The best indication I can provide about the scarcity is that after ten years and more than 40,000 cars, we have only seen four of these classics at Barn Finds. This one is a little gem, and its restoration would seem straightforward. It may not possess the pure performance potential or the street cred of some cars, but it is almost guaranteed that if you returned this one to active duty, you would be unlikely to park next to another at a Cars & Coffee or in a shopping mall car park. There’s nothing wrong with being slightly different, and if you feel that way, maybe the time is right to submit a bid on this little NSU.

  • Location: Lyons, Illinois
  • Mileage: 13,665 On Odometer
  • Engine: Wankel Rotary
  • Transmission: 4-Speed Manual
  • VIN Number: 5601809
  • Title Status: Clean

Bid On This Vehicle

High Bid: $6,500 (Reserve Not Met)
Make An Offer
Ended: Dec 16, 2022 1:06pm MDT
Top Bidder: Dave G
Buyer Premium: 5%
  • Dave G bid $6,500.00  2022-12-16 13:01:24
  • BMC56 bid $6,000.00  2022-12-16 13:00:22
  • Dave G bid $5,800.00  2022-12-16 12:59:59
  • BMC56 bid $5,700.00  2022-12-16 12:59:33
  • Dave G bid $5,550.00  2022-12-16 11:34:38
  • BMC56 bid $5,200.00  2022-12-15 15:38:05
  • Gregorio bid $4,900.00  2022-12-13 13:18:23
  • Dave G bid $3,200.00  2022-12-10 19:01:39
  • GeorgeB bid $2,500.00  2022-12-09 13:09:06
  • Roger Irvin bid $2,000.00  2022-12-08 15:02:11
  • Dave G bid $1,660.00  2022-12-08 10:33:43
  • JGA bid $1,307.01  2022-12-08 05:19:51
  • shane0319 bid $700.00  2022-12-07 12:46:03
  • Salish bid $600.00  2022-12-07 12:10:32
  • shane0319 bid $500.00  2022-12-06 15:46:47

Comments

  1. Luki

    A 356, 2002 and an Isetta. Nice little collection going there.

    Like 3
  2. TheOldRanger

    What a cool little car!! I wish I had the time and money to play with this one, someone is going to be a lucky owner and I wish them well. This is a fun car.

  3. Mark Member

    Cool. I had exclusive use of a Renault Caravelle convertible for one summer in high school. I had a blast, and it became, believe it or not, a girl magnet.
    This NSU reminds me of some really good times. Good luck, someone who is looking for an entry into our world should snap this up.

    Like 2
  4. Bakes

    To quote my son “that car is freaking adorable!”. Looks like it will be a very fun and easy restoration, and whoever gets it is going to have a very cool and fun little car.

    Like 1
  5. Al

    I recall driving this car, a red convertible. My favorite memory was going side-by-side from a stoplight with a big American sedan and shifting into 4th as I passed him, in excess of 60, and noting a rather surprised look on the other driver’s face. Great fun.

    Like 1
  6. Salish

    Hey There,
    Can you tell me if the ft lower body panel is missing?
    Much Thanks

    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Salish,

      It’s hard to see in the photos, but as I remember there should be a center lower body panel painted body color, it’s got 2 large holes to provide airflow to the radiator. I do think this car is probably missing that lower panel. I also see what appears to be rust in the lower front section of the right front fender.

      That lower panel is different from the Sport Prinz coupe. While they share the same basic body shell, because the Sport Prinz coupe is an air-cooled rear engine, it didn’t have a radiator up front, and the lower front panel is solid.

      The current bid price is way cheap, I suspect the reserve will be much higher. Anyone wanting a Wankel Spider needing a little bit of work, should bid well on this vehicle.

      Like 1
    • Jim Member

      Hello , not sure what do you mean by front lower body panel , if its the part that goes under the front bumper . I believe its there

  7. Adolph John Rettmer

    This car requird a little reverse thinking in my mind. I drove one 57 years ago and i was feel in love with it. My wife was visiting a good girl that she worked with and i looked in the driveway and lost my heart. The car was so small but
    i owed Renault Conv that was just about the same size and the owner came out and offered to give me keys to drive it. I drove it about 1 hour and to this day will never forget it.

    Johnadolph jo

    Like 1
  8. matt

    Tail light seem reminiscent of a ’56’ Packard, could somebody correct mr on this ? I think my uncle had a ’56’ a big car.

    Like 1
  9. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    Matt,

    I’ve owned both a ’56 Packard and a NSU Spider. While the fender angle is similar, the actual taillight lens is totally different.

    Note to buyers: The missing plastic emblem over the air intake on the trunk lid [lower left hole] is made of unobtanium. And as I remember, the windshield is different from the Prinz coupe. It’s probably available in Germany but I would advise the cost be explored first.

    Almost all the single rotor NSU engines are in the same condition as this one is; engine turns, but not running. That usually suggests the rotor seals are no longer providing compression. Back when I had my Spiders {I had 2, one with the factory hardtop}, I had the same issue, and back then no one was making seals due to the lack of demand.

    That said, if I wanted another Spider rotary engine roadster, I would be bidding hard for this one, as nice, non rusted out versions, are very rare.

    Like 2
    • Glemon

      Are the seals usually all they need,I know withe Mazdas the housing can get worn/scored, and unlike a regular block you can’t just bote it out and go to the next size up. Are the seals just a rectangular piece of (material, I know this part is critical) just wondering if a custom piston ring maker could fab something up with specs. Thanks for sharing your knowledge on these.

      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

        Glemon,

        My info is based on what I went thru with trying to find Wankel seals for my 2 NSU Spiders 30 years ago. Even then, there were no seals available from NSU sources.

        The rotor of a Wankel has 3 combustion areas, all have curved seals down the front and rear of the rotor, plus they have 3 end seals to separate the 3 combustion areas. Thinking of it as a 3-D triangle, at all 6 corners, there is a corner seal, the 6 side and 3 end seals all join into 3 slots in the corner seals.

        The side seals have a curvature equating to a piston ring of about 6 feet in diameter, and from what I found out, any piston ring of that diameter has a much wider thickness to match it’s size. No piston ring manufacturer was [at that time] willing or interested in making small runs of seals. And the corner seals are actually ceramic.

        I would suggest you contact the European NSU car club to see if someone has created new seals or has found a way to modify existing pieces to work.

        Like 3
    • Richard

      Was there any resolution to your seal problem? Seems like a motor swap may be the only way to go?

      And that windshield could be a challenge. I’ve heard you can get them custom manufactured for -$3500 but I have no personal experience.

      • Ken M

        Closer to $6000-$7000, I’ve had to do this recently, otherwise I’d be bidding on this.

      • Ken Nelson Member

        Wish I’d kept my Spider, and as for the windshield, one partial solution would be to buy clear hardcoated polycarbonate sheet about 3/16 in. thick – thin enough to simply bend to the windshield curve and anchor it well. PC is very hard to crack and will never shatter like a conventional windshield, unless a solvent like brakekleen contacts it – then it’ll stresscrack. So it is very solvent sensitive, but similar plastic is now in all the clear covered headlights. PC is what made it possible for the stylists to come up with whatever they dreamed of for hdlight covers that are shatteproof. And they take the high heat of most modern bulbs.

        If 3/16 in. pc is too stiff, go slightly thinner. Unless it’s hardcoated, wipers will cause damage after a period of time. And do not use abrasive cleaners on pc. Clean it with the same stuff used for headlight covers. Just don’t tell the authorities your windshield is plastic – they might frown on that!

        Like 1
      • Richard

        I went to my local plastic fabrication place and had a rear window fabricated for my 1960 Mazda R360. $250 compound curves and all. I was thrilled with it. Windshield occurred to me but you probably wouldn’t want to use wipers. Not that you would drive this museum piece in the rain.

  10. chrlsful

    these were very much the Italians I wrenched on during the 70s/80s (50s/60s rest0mods) asa kid. Not a possible hobby/daily now – still a car of interest.

    Just what were the 2nd tier of that era (comparable toa Studi, IH or hudson)? fora european? Don’t discount it. Mechanics? think lay down sideways, “stacks” rather than bores & pistons. “Thank you, Mr Wankel of Jur-manny” sez many PR dragsters in the Carib.

  11. Ken Nelson Member

    This car is near identical to one I owned 10 yrs ago, but sold to a Ca. Spider owner as I never had the time to address the engine. My last hope re reviving the car was to find a way to install a Panhard flat aircooled twin in the rear. The 850 cc Panhard all-rollerbearing engines put out 40 hp easily and can take any Panhard – Dyna or PL17 or 24BT – to 90 mph, with the 24 being good for 100 with its 60 hp version of the same flat twin. And the Panhard would have fit plus eliminated the need for the radiator up-front.
    Only thing that stopped me was the reverse-rotation of the Panhard vs the Wankel – I couldn’t see a way to flip the diff, which can be done in some transmissions. With so little knowledge of how to revive the Wankels, I also let go my ’68 Ro80 – a beautiful car, even today, with its aero styling, excellent interior, and the original German headlights.
    Still like these Spiders – will have to be content with rehabbing my DB Lemans roadster with its own flat twin upfront.

    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Ken,

      Wow, you have a DB LeMans roadster? I’ve wanted a DB since I drove one in 1978 that a friend in W VA wanted to sell. Sadly I didn’t have the $ at the time. I’ve also owned an early all-alloy Dyna sedan and a PL-17.

      I have a friend in New Jersey who has an original & beautiful PL-17 with only 12,000 miles, but he can’t get it on the road because he can’t find a carburetor that works [his is missing]. Any suggestions for him?

      Like 2
      • Ken Nelson Member

        Hi Bill, is his intake manifold – that tiny alum block wobbling in space on the two intake & two exhaust preheat tubes hanging off the cylinder heads – a single small port or a larger, oval or double barrel design? The Panny twins had 3 or 4 diff carbs – some two, some singlebarrels. If possible, have him text me or email a pic of the bare alum manifold, as I may have a spare either in Mich or Ca, the latter where I am now.
        I have about 7 sedans here in Ca. and have to sell them off as the storage costs have tripled on me. Also have a large stash of cyls, which are one pc barrel and head – no head gaskets – and various other parts I’ve saved over the yrs. Send him my contact info –
        One early Z1 partially alum sedan even has the torpedo gasoline heater that they used before they went to exh manifold tubes for interior heat – have to sell this car also. Most of them have far less rot than cars E. of the SF bay area, if anyone’s interested –
        Also have two Jowett Jupiters, a Bristol 408 and ’59 NSU Prinz III available.

        Like 1
      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

        Ken, my email is billmccoskey@aol.com, once I have your info I will pass it on to him. It’s been a while since I last talked with him on the subject, but I’m sure he still needs a suitable carb, it can be non-original, as long as it works well. His initials are E. D. so you will know his contact is as a result of our conversation.

        If my memory is correct, his intake manifold base had a single opening of 35MM, if that helps at all.

        I’ve had a Jowett Jupiter, but that was in 1976 when finding spares was damn near impossible here in America. Never had the opportunity to drive it. While I’ve worked on a couple Bristol cars, a 6 and a V8, I’ve never owned one. Always wanted a Sport Prinz Coupe, but at my age I’m selling stuff, not buying. In the late 1970s, along with my friend Fang, we bought out the last NSU importer; Allied Light Cars, in Washington DC. In addition to all the parts inventories and showroom goodies, we had 2 dozen 1100 and 1200 sedans, including a couple of TTS versions, and 2 Spyder roadsters, still on Certificate of origin papers, having never been sold. One of them was a red with black factory hardtop, it was claimed to have been the one on the cover of various US car magazines. I sold them to M.V. in Ohio about 30 years ago, I suspect you might know him, I also sold him a 4X4 DKW Munga that was sold new to a PA hunter in the US in 1958. While the Munga was terrifying to drive over 35 mph, it was damn near impossible to get stuck, be it in a marsh, in deep snow or sand.

        Like 2
      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

        @Ken Nelson – Please consider listing them with us. We can run them as classifieds or auctions. Thanks!

  12. Richard

    Nice car and quite collectible for an NSU but those first generation Wankel’s had issues. They couldn’t get the chamber seals to last more than several thousand miles. Hence very few of these on the road and fewer with original motors.

  13. Phil

    I am new to BF and have a few questions.
    1. Is it possible to view the car in person?
    2. Does the owner, or anyone else, know of a a US source for windshield and for Wankle engine parts??

    Many thks!

    • Jim Member

      yes you can come and inspect the car . the car comes with a file that has sources for parts and other member collect these type of cars .

    • Phil Nolte

      Would it be possible to email the cars address before the auction ends tomorrow? I live about 30 minutes away from Lyons. Many thks!

  14. kentodd5700

    Do you have pictures of the underside of the car?

    • Jim Member

      I do have some more detail pictures , but will need your email to send . thanks

  15. KENNETH MURRAY

    Where can you find a windscreen for this

    • Jim Member

      I do have a file that comes with the car , it has some sources for parts and other members collect these type of cars .

      Like 1
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      I asked the NSU club in the UK that question, and here is the reply:

      Hi Bill,
      Pilkingtons can supply new laminated windshields. Classic Cars (pilkington.com)

      Not sure if they are in the USA, but they can ship worldwide.
      Hope this helps,

      Glenn Canning

      NSU Owners club

      Like 2
      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

        Glenn Canning also added another comment that is important [and I never knew!] — The Spider shares the same windshield with the Sport Prinz coupe!

        Like 1
  16. GLEN D HIRSCHBERGER

    My father worked as a salesman for the US importer, Transcontinental Motors at, I think, 92nd Street in Manhattan. When NSU pulled their distributorship my father sold VW parts through the other company owned by the same person, Ludwig Motors. I remember seeing a large pile of waranty Spider engines stacked along a wall on the second floor. High oil consumption. My dad raced an NSU Spyder, but it just didn’t have the horsepower to compete in HP with the sprites.

    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Glen,

      In your dealings with your dad and NSU, did you ever hear about the DKW dealership in Washington, DC, known as Allied Light Cars?

      • GLEN D HIRSCHBERGER

        Did not know about Allied Light Cars.

      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

        Glen,
        The reason I asked is because a business partner and I bought all the automotive assets from ALC in the mid 1970s after they closed and the property was sold. We had been wrongly told ALC was the actual importer for NSU, and there was a huge parts inventory along with 5 to 10 year old UNSOLD NSU cars, including the first & last Spiders imported into the US.

        I was wondering if you know when Transcontinental Motors closed or stopped being the NSU importer of record, because the huge parts inventory ALC had would suggest they had indeed taken over as the importer, at least for spare parts. We even had about 20 series 1100 door assemblies, several roof panels, and hundreds of small trim parts, far more than a small dealership would need for their parts & service facility.

        Like 1
  17. Sluggo76

    Ken, I would be interested in your ’59 NSU. Can you please send me additional details and pics. Thanks.

    • Ken Nelson Member

      Sluggo76, I’m at citbuff at geemale dot calm.

  18. Phil Nolte

    Glen,
    I worked at a small NSU dealer in central NJ in the late 60’s. The shop was called “The Little Foreign Car Shop”. Maybe you might recall that dealer also?
    We also sold TVR’s as well.
    I remember the NSU impoter, Transcontinental Motors in N Y where your dad worked. All history now….
    Phil

  19. GLEN D HIRSCHBERGER

    Ray Walle?

    Like 1
    • Phil Nolte

      Correct! I worked for Ray for several years and also went with him when he raced his NSU TTS on rhe east coast. May I ask how yu know him?
      Phil

      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

        Phil,
        When we bought Allied Light Cars in DC, back in the rear of the storage building, under an old parachute, we found a low mileage TTS, and after getting it running, we were absolutely astounded at how fast that little car was, especially in turns.

        Sadly, one afternoon after taking the car out for exercise, the front carb began leaking and we didn’t realize it until we tried to start the engine. The fuel had spilled onto the starter motor [or generator, can’t remember which], and the whole car lit up.

        Like 2
      • GLEN D HIRSCHBERGER

        I knew him through my dad. I was only 18 or 19 years old and was at his shop a few times. My dad purchased a Beach (?) D sports racing car without an engine or transmission and a 1963 or 1964 Avanti from him. I was also at Lime Rock and Marlboro Md. when they raced an NSU 1000. Couldn’t beat the Al Constantino Abarths. Part of the reason for that was the high ratio gearing on the NSU, couldn’t pull the speed of the Abarths.

        Like 1
  20. GLEN HIRSCHBERGER

    My father was the salesman for Transcontinental Motors, the importer of NSU at the time. I was at Ray’s shop a few times. I remember the huge wrecking yard behind the shop, many “junk” cars.

  21. Phil Nolte

    Glen,
    Totally forgot about Al Constantino!! I remember now that when we went to a race, one of the first things to do was to see if the dreaded Abarth from Constantino was there. Good call on the gearing for the NSU, you’re probably correct.
    Since you were at the Ray’s shop, we may have crossed paths back then. Small world.
    BTW, I am west of Chicago where are you at?

  22. GLEN D HIRSCHBERGER

    I am in Sebastopol California.

    • Phil Nolte

      Was your dad the sales person at Transcontinental who handled The Little Foreign Car Shop? It might just be the power of suggestion, but, your last name is sounding familiar.
      Anyway to exchange email addresses?

      • GLEN D HIRSCHBERGER

        My email is glenhirsch4@aol.com. My dad was the salesman for Transcontinental Motors. He went cross country signing shops up to be NSU dealers. After Transcontinental Motors stopped selling NSUs he worked as a salesperson for Ludwig Motors, same owner as T.M., selling VW parts to repair shops and parts stores.

  23. Yblocker

    No, but I’ll take the 1950 or so Plymouth parked next to it

  24. Edward Temple

    Please call me concerning your NSU. I am aware that your listing has ended. Respectfully, Ed

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