Flames & 20 Horsepower? 1958 NSU Prinz

Someone must have had quite a sense of humor to paint nice flames (according to the seller) on this 1958 NSU Prinz equipped with an inline 2 (not a typo)! 20 ground pounding horsepower come from the 35.6 cubic inch engine! You can pretend to smoke the tires if you win the no-reserve auction here on eBay. Bidding is starting at a steep $7,000, but when have you seen another 20 horsepower car with flames? You can pick it up after the auction in Red Hook, New York.

The Prinz was introduced for 1958 as one of several small, rear-engined economy cars on the market. Because this is a first year model, the odds are high that it has a non-synchromesh gearbox, which could explain some of the issues the seller is having getting the car into gear. Once the frozen clutch is freed up, perhaps you could take the car for a drive. Oh, don’t forget the dry rotted tires and that the dynamo isn’t charging. The seller tells a sad story about having purchased this car for a charity auction, only to find it was misrepresented as a running, driving car.

Nonetheless, the little hot rod does have its good points, with a solid body and decent paint, especially if you like the flames. Even the chrome looks pretty decent. The seller tells us that it’s now missing a battery due to them using it for the Fiat that they replaced the NSU with for the charity auction.

This is what passed for a “frunk” for the Prinz. In addition to this front space, there was also a small luggage area behind the rear seats.

While the seats look great, I’m not sure they are in keeping with the exterior color. And I’m not sure what the floor is–primer & metal?

I’m not a fan of black rattle can spray underneath. Especially when they can’t bother to spray all of the items. You can also see the torn steering rack boot. That might be a fun part to find.

Here’s the two-cylinder powerplant in all it’s oily glory. I get that you’ve going to have to really like these cars to go down this road, but how many have you seen? And if not this — if you’ve read this far — what little period European economy car do you like better? And no fair picking the Beetle, we can all make a good case for that one! Me, I’ll take our Triumph Herald.


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  1. healeydays

    Flames always makes a car go faster…

    Like 1
  2. geomechs geomechs Member

    My cousin had one of these. He drove it for several years before the body started to separate at the lower door openings. It actually served him fairly well although it was terrible to drive in a prairie cross-wind. If you passed a semi you either had to avoid getting sucked under the wheels or being blown into the ditch. The motor was an oil burner and he only used 40 Weight oil which was hard to find unless he headed for the local Harley shop. A good car for the time he had it but in the end it was totally disposable…

    Like 1
  3. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Dang, I kicked around buying a 1959 Prinz in New Mexico that lingered on CL for months if not longer. I’m more of a let’s-fix-the-mechanicals-first sort of guy rather than add some flashy paint and seat covers, but I’m pretty boring that way. It would be fun to own, though. It seems as if I’ve seen this car for sale fairly recently, maybe that was the charity auction that they mentioned. Cool find, Jamie!

    Like 1
  4. jdjonesdr

    This has Hayabusa transplant written all over it.

  5. On and On On and On Member

    My father bought a 1959 for $50 in 1965. He drove it to work for a year or two. The dynamo didn’t charge on his either, but he found that it only needed brushes which he bought from a defunct dealer for about $2. It was a combo starter/generator. It did get 50mpg but wouldn’t do more than 60mph. Took a long time to heat up in Chicago winters, windows would fog up. He traded it in for a 1967 NSU sport Prinz which I learned to drive stick on. I got my license in 1967, was 16 years old. Good times.

    Like 1
  6. mallthus

    If I were going to look for a weird, rear-engined, European, I’d go with the Hillman Imp. If I were looking for an NSU, I’d go with an Ro80.

    This might be a fun project, but this is silly money.

  7. oilngas

    Here’s my economy choice. 1961 Morris Minor LCV

  8. Pa Tina

    The Fresh Prinz of Ber Lin! The flames help you figure out what direction it is pointing in (I think)

  9. Mike B

    Not to lump it in with a VW Squareback, but it seems like the flames are on the wrong end.

    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      (..or the Pinto) (hee hee) (sorry, that was too easy)

  10. Adam T45 Staff

    It is possible to light up the tyres in one of these. It does require a gallon of petrol and a box of matches. I couldn’t do it though. It reminds me too much of a cute little puppy.

  11. Jeffro

    Lose a drag race to a kid on a Big Wheel!

    Like 1
  12. AF

    The good news is that everyone driving around you in this thing would be laughing

  13. Lance

    Last time I saw one of those NSU’s it was sitting on a pole outside a junkyard.

  14. RicK

    Fiat Bianchina is my fave ’50s microcar – note that when you slide into the front seat and sit behind the steering wheel the soles of your feet are almost flush with the back of the front license plate. Cute car, but would be interesting in a collision . . .

    Like 1
    • jw454


      My uncle had one like the one in your picture. His was all white with red interior. He drove it to work and to run errands for a couple of years. He made and, installed a big wind up key on the trunk just to get people passing by to smile. That was at the time when we regularly had 20+ foot long Cadillacs, Buicks, and Lincolns on the roads so that made it look even smaller.

      Like 1
    • Andy

      I used to have a ’66 Microbus, much more common than this. I used the left headlight bucket for a foot rest. Also had a friend in high school who broke both legs crashing a Karmann Ghia. Safety? What’s that?

      Like 1
    • Adam T45 Staff

      Ah, the old “organic crumple zone”!

      Like 1
  15. Fred w.

    Two words: Crate 350… ;)

    Like 1
  16. Allen Member

    The flames appear to flow toward the rear of the car. Isn’t that the wrong direction? A 20 hp car with flames on it? How about a Model T Ford with a Pinto gas tank…

  17. Rex Rice

    I rented one of these in Germany in 1959. I drove it all day and when I filled the tank to return it, it took about a quart of fuel. The speedometer was the only gauge, all the rest were lights. Low fuel, oil, high beams; a row of them under the speedometer.

  18. Wrong Way

    It looks as if the flames were painted on to tell which end was the front and which was the rear! If not for the flames you couldn’t tell which end was what! Cute car tho, not much bigger than a go-cart!

  19. Royal Ricci

    I live 40 miles south of Red Hook and can go do an inspection and take photos or a video if you would like me to…..

    Like 1
  20. BH San Diego

    Had one after high school in 1965. Had to sell it after parents move to a house on a hill with a long steep driveway. Car could it make it up to the house!
    But had a blast with it. And yes it burned (or leaked) more oil per mile than gas.

  21. Nevis Beeman

    Attending school in Cavan, Ireland, in the mid 1960’s I remember seeing this model of NSU chugging cheerfully along…. And they seemed to do a satisfactory job of getting even the poorest motorists in the community from A to B.
    However home was in Scotland or England, where these early NSU Prinz were never sold, to my knowledge. Was the Republic of Ireland the only country where right hand drive versions of this early Prinz were sold.?

    • Adam T45 Staff

      No Nevis, they were sold in Australia as well. They were even raced here! They competed in the Armstrong 500, which was a 500 mile race for stock standard road cars. That race was the pre-cursor for what is now the Bathurst 1000.

  22. Jacob

    These things are far smaller looking in person than you can imagine. They put fiat 500s to shame!

  23. Tony Hill

    Being born and raised in Devon UK having to retrieve my brother in one of these. He called one day after the engine fell out and was sitting on the road. A jack some haywire and quick wiring had it up (no pun intended) and running again, only to hit parked van on the motorway a few weeks later finished product with two banana doors and even shorter car. He had lots of fun in it for sure.

  24. James

    How do you contact someone to purchase this car?

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      James, there’s a link to the eBay auction in the post. As I write this, there are still no bids.

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