NSU was a German manufacturer of knitting machines, and later cars and motorcycles The company was founded in 1873, and acquired by Volkswagen AG in 1969.
In 1873 Christian Schmidt (1845-1884) and Heinrich Stoll entered into a partnership with Schmidt was skilled in mechanics The duo started in Riedlingen an der Donau in a water mill with the Mechanische Werkstätte zur Herstellung von Strickmaschinen (mechanical workshop for the manufacture of knitting machines) When the factory was looking for a new, larger location, they ended up in Neckarsulm, where the hydropower of Neckar and Sulm could be used The name of the new factory became Neckarsulmer Strickmaschinen-Fabrik AG
After Schmidt’s death in 1884, the factory came into the hands of his brother-in-law Gottlob Banzhaf (1858-1930) who decided in 1886 to switch to the manufacture of two-wheelers Banzhaf saw potential in the new means of transport, and expected to be able to earn more money with bicycles than with knitting machines The “Germania”, a velocipède, was the first product after the changeover, and from 1888 onwards they focused on the manufacture of lower bicycles.The company name was Neckarsulmer Fahrradwerke AG, later NSU Vereinigte Fahrzeugwerke, NSU Werke Aktiengesellschaft and NSU Motorenwerke AG. In 1901 they produced the first motorcycle with 11/2 hp Zedel-clip-on engine Soon their own engine blocks were developed. The machines were initially sold under the name Neckarsulm or Neckarsulmer Motorrad, but this name was especially for the English customers not to pronounce, so it soon became NSU, for which the letters were taken from the name of the location: NeckarSUlm In 1905 the first car was manufactured, licensed by the Belgian brand Pipe.
With its moto bikes, NSU achieved great racing successes and many world-famous riders once rode on an NSU After the transition of Walter William Moore from Norton to NSU, the bikes started to look very “English”
During the Second World War, NSU of course produced military equipment, including the well-known Kettenkrad that was produced until 1949 In 1949 they started to build civilian motorcycles again, but already earlier, in 1947, a contract was concluded with Innocenti to produce the Lambretta scooters under license Initially, these were Italian-produced scooters that were slightly modified, but in 1951 they were built entirely in Germany This scooter production ended in 1959.
In the fifties NSU celebrated triumphs on the racetracks with the revolutionary 125 cc and 250 cc racing engines The revolutionary was located in the camshaft drive by means of two eccentric connecting rods In 1957, NSU partly transferred motorcycle production to the Yugoslav Pretis factory in order to be able to concentrate more on the car market. and then the NSU Prima scooter In 1965, motorcycle production was discontinued.
NSU enjoyed the greatest fame with the NSU Ro 80 (1967) This car was equipped with a double-disc wankel engine Initially, however, the engines had many problems Because NSU gave a five-year warranty on the engines, this caused high costs. In 1969, NSU was acquired by Volkswagen, after which the brand was merged with Auto-Union The combination continued as Audi NSU Auto Union AG and was renamed Audi in 1985.