Stored 50 Years: 1960 NSU/Fiat Weinsberg 500 Coupe

NSU started off making knitting machines, moved to bicycles, then motorcycles, and eventually, they made cars. This 1960 NSU/Fiat Weinsberg 500 Coupe isn’t much bigger than a motorcycle and it’s a rare one. The seller has it posted here on craigslist in Loomis, California, just twenty-five miles northeast of Sacramento, and they’re asking $9,500 for this ten-foot-long microcar. Here’s the ad in case someone grabs this one.

I don’t use the word cute too often for anything but I can’t help myself here, isn’t this one cute?! It’s almost hard to tell which end is which. This is the two-passenger Coupe version but the company also made a Limousette for four passengers and they’re easy to tell apart as the “bigger” one has rear side windows.

It has a rear engine but you probably assumed that by now. The taillight lenses and bumpers? The seller has them along with many other spare parts and pieces. NSU had incredible success with motorcycles and the company wanted to go all out on inexpensive cars, going as far as building a second factory. It didn’t work out the way they had hoped and Fiat stepped in to buy the plant.

NSU stopped building cars a few years later as Fiat was coming out with the NSU/Fiats. The NSU/Fiat Weinsberg 500 in both Coupe and Limousette came out in 1959 and they were made until 1963. They’re very rare to see today. A Limousette sold at an RM Auction in 2013 for $33,350 so there’s some meat on the bone here if a person could do at least some of the work by him or herself.

This particular car has been stored almost its entire life, according to the seller who says that it was stored for fifty years. The seats and interior panels have been redone and even the space behind the seats looks perfect. They say that the brakes have been redone and the body is solid. The gas tank is under the front trunk/frunk as with a lot of rear-engine vehicles.

The engine looks like it’s been totally restored but all they say about it is that it “runs good”. It’s a 500 cc Fiat twin with a whopping 15 horsepower. There’s a lot to like here if a person is into microcars. Have any of you heard of this model?

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Comments

  1. alphasud Member

    I would love to have this piece of automotive history. This is the first time I have seen this model. Looking at the other pictures on Craigslist it appears all the impossible parts are all there. I would think with a car this small the body and paint could be easily managed in a garage. I agree Scotty it’s ugly cute.
    I am confused though with the Fiat partnership because NSU continued with production until 1969 when the VW group purchased it. It was assembled in Nekarsulm but I assume this was in a different factory to the one where the Prinz and Ro80 were produced. That factory continued making cars for Audi such as the 80 and 100. I just hope whoever buys it restores it to be seen in public.

    Like 10
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Alphasud, it was an incredibly confusing partnership. Fiat purchased the newly-built plant at Heilbronn which included the NSU name and shares – purchased from banks in Dresden so there was really no direct connection between the two companies. In the mid-1950s, NSU was the world’s biggest motorcycle producer and they were entering the car market again with the Prinz. To avoid confusion, NSU/Fiat changed their name to “Neckar”, for the river which was near the factory, but they kept using the NSU/Fiat badges.

      I don’t know if that makes it any easier to understand or not, it’s one of the most confusing automotive partnerships that I can think of.

      Like 7
    • Martin Horrocks

      There aren´t many parts unique to the Weinsberg, less so than with Autobianchi, for example. The front wings and bonnet are modified from Fiat 500, so a good panel-beater could reproduce. The front screen and doors are also Fiat 500D, but other glass is unique.

      The rear screen of the coupe was glass, but they often crack,Rear lamps and bumpers are also unique and would be really hard to find. Headlamps etc are Fiat 500 (95% of the car is jsut FIAT):

      Like 6
    • nlpnt

      There were two NSU factories, the original motorcycle one at Neckarsulm and the car plant at Heilbronn which had been building Fiats under license as far back as the mid ’30s.

      By the postwar era they were basically two separate companies and when Neckarsulm got back into cars with the Prinz (an original design of theirs) they had senior trademark rights and NSU-Fiat in Heilbronn rebranded to Neckar – later models of this car were called Neckar Weinsberg. They also made the Jagst (a Fiat 600) and their version of the Fiat 1100 had carried Neckar as a model name before the rebrand, becoming the Neckar Europa.

      With both (West) Germany and Italy in the EEC there was increasingly less reason for German assembly of Fiats so by the end of the ’60s Neckar had rebranded again, becoming the import-only Fiat Deutschland.

      Like 4
  2. Bob C.

    I’m pretty sure I saw a car like this on a Uniroyal TV commercial back in the early 70s. A man dressed like a clown making like he was drunk and wound up rolling it. Same colors, but the back window was blocked out.

  3. Lance

    This is the kind of car that junkyards would put on a pole outside their yards with the words AUTO PARTS and an arrow pointing down written on it. Nobody would be coming in for NSU parts.

    Like 4
  4. Scott Smithson

    This same type of car is in a old music video, by Cinderella, love the suicide doors

    Like 1
  5. Till J.

    Weinsberg is a small town near Heilbronn Germany. It`s also the name from the coachbuilder from there. The company Weinsberg started 1912 and was till 2011 in Weinsberg. So this car has a coach from Weinsberg, was produced by NSU, but it is a FIAT. The own constructed NSU were the Princes and later RO 80 and so on. Some from NSU constructed cars were never produced with this name. For example the VW K70 what was a complete different car compared to a VW beetle.

    Like 4
    • John S Dressler

      Taillight assembly looks just like the ones on a Karmen Ghia!

      • Martin Horrocks

        Maybe,butt they are unique to this car. Fiat 1100 look the same but are not. So these are hard to find…..ask how I know!

        Like 2
  6. Mutt

    I can just see it now…

    “Hello NAPA, do you stock parts for a NSU 500 coupe?”

    Oh boy.

    Like 20
    • Howie Mueler

      NAPA = No Auto Parts Available

      Like 8
      • Rick

        To be fair I’ve had pretty good luck getting stuff from NAPA. And no, I’m not a shareholder or a franchise owner.

  7. Phil Hall

    Are any clowns included?

    Like 2
  8. Cobra Steve

    And I thought my Renault Dauphine was small! At least I have 12 additional ponies for a whopping total of 27 hp!!

    Like 2
    • chrlsful

      oh yeah, the Dauphine was a (our) family car (’56/67, 300 more cc displacement), these R small, way small, “micro” car (probably only 20, 30 micro car models).

      • chrlsful

        meaning pre-kei or other than kei (forgot bout them).

        Like 1
  9. Howie Mueler

    My dad had a NSU Prinz, he loved that little car.

    Like 5
    • On and On On and On Member

      Likewise, my dad had a 1959 NSU Prinz, he liked it so much he bought a new NSU Sport Prinz in 1966. Both got 50-60mpg……….

      Like 6
  10. Martin Horrocks

    I knopw this! I found one in a garage in Alicante, Spainabout 12 years ago. Eventually, it was fuklly restored and sold to a lovely guy in Switzerland who has 8 Weinsbergs. Which is about 15% of all known Weinsberg survivors.

    It took a long time to unravel the history of the car and the company, I suspect because no-one has an interest how NSU/FIAT morphed into AUDI….by accident, not design.

    Till J is close, but not quite on the money. All of this is from memory, so there may be some error. NSU was originally a company which built sewing machines in Neckerslarum, Bavaria. It became a very successful manufacturer of motorbikes. A seperate company was set up in order to build and sell FIAT in Germany, which was NSU/FIAT.and based in Heilbronn, Bavaria. Pre war, the company built Topolinos.

    After WW2, NSU/FIAT built Fiat 1100 (named Europa) and 600 (named Jagst) but when NSU wanted to move into the car market themselves (the Prinz as mentioned elsewhere), there was a confict of interest. NSU/FIAT was rebranded Neckar in about 1958, but there are a few 1959 cars still with the NSU/FIAT branding, so changeover was a bit casual. NSU was totally a sepopaerate enterprise, finally bought out by VW, which took over NSU FWD design thereby saving its own skin.

    The Weinsberg was the German take on Fiat 500 and is identical mechanically. As the write upo says, two models, the coupe having this wrap-round screen. The coachbuilder (for coupé only) was Binz & Co of Lörcher, now famous for hearse builds….

    Neckar ended in the early 1970s, but made other interesting models like the Saint Tropez (originally an OSI) and the Mistrale (originally a Siata).

    Like 6
    • alphasud Member

      Thanks to Scotty Martin, and Till for unraveling the mystery of this car and the manufacturer. I will be honest it’s still one of the most convoluted stories I have ever heard about a vehicle manufacturer(s). Still cute as hell and frustrating I don’t have the capital right now to pursue. Perfect car for cars and coffee events. That way more people can know about this car and walk away confused.

      Like 5
      • Martin Horrocks

        When I found my car, I assumed it was an Autobianchi and I´d never heard of Neckar either. Buying a Neckar is a very cheap way to become a centre of attention at Concuro Italiano!

        Because of the FIAT license, the cars were not exported very widely. As far as I know, a few went to france, Holland, Portugal. A very small number were RHD but sold only in the Channel Isles, not in UK. Mine was one of those, which is why the Swiss collector wanted it!

        I guess this car may have come to USA with a returning serviceman.

        Like 3
      • Oldog4tz Oldog4tz Member

        Came to see a car, got a lesson in post-war history. Thanx for the knowledge.

        Like 4
    • Till J.

      Yes, you are right. NSU and NSU/FIAT was not the same. Sorry my fault! That the coupe was manufactured by Binz is completly new for me. At this time they made mostly conversions from new cars like ambulances, long-wheel and hearses. Most of them were based on Mercedes-Benz cars. But in one small thing you did a mistake. The towns Neckarsulm and Heilbronn are not in Bavaria. Bavaria is the state were BMW comes from. Stuttgart, Neckarsulm and Heilbronn are in the state Baden-Würtenberg.
      Best regards from Bavaria,
      Till J

      Like 1
  11. Mike

    Looks like a straight forward resto project with a lot of stuff already done to it. The more I watch this video, the more I want it. I’d probably want to paint it something other than red.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cX31GrMB4WY&t=21s

    Like 5
    • Martin Horrocks

      I agree, the white on red colour scheme doesn´t suit the coupe. Blue on white was a nicer factory alternative. I painted mine with modern Fiat/Lancia colours, Fiat Burgundy metalllic over Lancia Ivory. Apart from rear bench seat, interior trim is off the shelf FIAT 500. Local trimmer did the sunroof in quality German fabric.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxJ1fw6Uamw

      Like 2
  12. Clay Bryant

    This is the type of car when you’re breaking up some morning, you give the ex to be and tell her to be out of town by dark.

  13. Howard A Member

    I’ve always thought, it’s tough deciding if this car is coming or going. 15 hp, pfft, weedwackers have more power today and probably just as annoying.

    Like 1
  14. ramblergarage

    I have owned sever NSUs but have never herd of this model. Interesting.

    Like 2

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