Automotive History: NSU Prinz, The 4 Cylinder Models, Part 2: TT, TTS and derivatives

(first posted 3/2/2018)     With two Weber double barrel carburetors and bored to 1177 cc The NSU 1200TT made 65 hp (DIN). Now we are talking!

Let’s get right into it. Please use a good quality sound system and be reminded that extended exposure to noises that reach a decibel level of 85 can cause permanent damage to the hair cells in the inner ear, leading to hearing loss.

Who cares if it sounds that good! Notice what sense of satisfaction this minor tweak of the air mixture screws imbued to the bib-wearing virtuoso practicing in his studio.

But this is not how the TT/TTS – this refers to NSU’s racing successes with motorcycles in the 125 and 250 cc classes at the Tourist Trophy – story started. It began in 1965 by stuffing the engine of the Typ 77 into the Prinz 1000 body. In two years 14,292 Prinz 1000 TT (Typ 67b) were produced. The 1100 cc engine made 55 hp (DIN). The TT received double headlights in the oval buckets and a black band of trim with the NSU logo and NSU Prinz 1000 script. The rear end was adorned with a TT call out badge.

1967-1972 NSU TT 1200

TT instruments. Photo by eagle1effl on flicker.


The instrument panel received two large round dials for speedometer and tachometer.

In the TT 1200 the engine was bored out to 1177 cc and made 65 hp (DIN). Let’s see what this meant:  VW 1200 took 37 seconds from start to 100 km/h, a FIAT 850 Sport did this in 23 seconds and the TT 1200 in 13.5 sec. Top speed was 153 km/h. The Prinz name was dropped and the model was called 1200 TT (Typ 67c). The front had a chrome and black band with the TT call out. From 1967 to 1972 49,327 units were made.

Willi Bergmeister was 1974 ‘Deutscher Bergmeister’ (German hill climb champion) with his TT.


Then they added the TTS (Typ 67f): it made 70 hp (DIN) with two Solex double barrel carburetors. It was easily recognized in rearview mirrors by the factory oil cooler below the front bumper. That “grocery getter” will scramble your eggs on your way home.

It may have fried them too because the oil lines had the nasty habit of breaking and setting the car on fire. Between 1967 and 1971 a total of 2,402 Prinz 1000 TTS and 1000 TTS were made. Supposedly roughly 4,000 of them have survived. True, documented survivors are exceedingly rare.

Anton Konrad published an article: NSU TTS: Rallye- und Rennwagen vom Fliessband. (Rallye and racecar off the assembly line) March, 22, 1967 in Hobby, Das Magazin für Technik, vol. 6/67:

“The TTS achieves 70 hp at 6150 rpm through these modifications: high compression pistons (10.5:1), larger valves, special camshaft, 2 horizontal Solex carburetors with special intake manifold…..and 85 hp with different carburetors (still to be determined) with short velocity stacks, open racing exhaust, and an oil cooler below the number plate standard….in no time the needle goes to 7000 rpm without any notion of effort…..the suspension is modified to match the power: harder dampers and negative camber at the front wheels do magic for the handling of this rear engine car: no rear whip but clear understeer. It takes some getting used to but it allows for cornering at extremely high speeds…..The TTS is a sporting car balanced in power and suspension, available for DM 7,500.00 in rallye ready trim. Initially a series of 1,000 units will be built for the purpose of homologation in the group 2 for touring cars. Thus NSU provides a promising vehicle and additionally supports young drivers with respectable prize premiums. NSU must be recognized as the only German manufacturer to support privateers to such extend.”

Indeed, the low center of gravity, the direct steering and the near ideal weight distribution gave this machine handling characteristics that only much more expensive cars could meet or beat. I.e. the Porsche 912 offered 90 hp. a 5 speed transmission, a top speed of 192 km/h and set you back DM 16,250.00. The BMW 1600-2 made 85 hp and could be yours for DM 8,650.00. No mention if they were ‘rallye ready’. And the TTS beat the Porsche 912 in a 0 to 80 km/h sprint.

Lifting the inside front wheel in corners was customary. And sometimes they lifted two. Witness this tire test:

A quick flick with the steering wheel prevented a rollover. This scene closely matches what I saw at a hill climb race in 1974 or so. In a split second, the driver’s face turned red as a tomato. As you know the car’s great vision helps not only looking out of the car but also into it.

How can one sense the exhilaration that racers experienced back in 1974 or there about? How about some blurry, shaky, flickering film footage in faded colors by “Ligne Rouge 8500” and analogically recorded soundtrack?

If the sound of this engine does not affect your heart rate I suspect you have ice running through your veins. Here is the full 28 minute version: link.

NSU TT ad listing rallye successes.


You have probably noticed that just about every TT and TTS has the lid of the engine compartment propped open. This is supposed to help with cooling the engine bay. Yet testing proved that it has no effect on the engine temperature. It still may be effective in the same way as war paint: it stokes you up and impresses the opponent.

More effective was lowering the steering wheel as much as factory tolerances allowed. Rack and pinion sit inside the upper tube of the front suspension. The hole in the tube provided some room for adjustment. Shimming the steering column mounts below the dash fixed a problem quite well: you could actually see the instruments again after fitting a lower racing seat.

Another cheap modification was adding about 100lbs in the front of the car to mitigate crosswind sensitivity and to improve front end grip under hard acceleration.

The TTS was destined to excel in slaloms and hill climbs as this footage by Berg Fränky at the Hagen Motodrom illustrates:

Let’s go on a hill climb in beautiful Tuscany. Watch Enrico Zucchetti manhandling that steering wheel with his elbows out. Steering is unassisted and he is fighting some fat tires:

The NSU TTS also competes in the 1300 cc class (Group 3). Peter Hellgut put together a comparison of the NSU 1300 Spiess vs. the Ford Escort 1300 GT Zakspeed:

NSU 1300 “Spiess”:
Ouput: 120 hp at 7800 rpm
Limit, short: 8000 rpm
Weight, race ready: 620 kg
weight to power ratio: ca. 5,2 kg/hp
Rim width, front: 5 1/2 “, rear: 6”
Tires (Dunlop) 3,75 x 8.00 x 12”
Built cost: about DM 15.000,- that’s ridiculously low compared to the Escort.
Results: So far fastest car in its class at each start.
Acceleration data:
0 to 200 m: 10,3 sec
0 to 400 m: 15,8 sec – NSU TT 18,6 sec
0 to 600 m: 20,5 sec
0 to 800 m: 24,9 sec
0 to 1000 m: 29,0 sec – NSU TT 35,3 sec
top speed: 184 km/h at 7900 rpm

Ford Escort 1300 GT “Zakspeed”:
Output: 140 hp at. 8000 rpm
Limit, short when shifting: 9200 rpm
Weight, race ready: 770 kg
weight to power ratio: 5,5 kg/hp
Rim width: front 7 “, rear 9 1/4 ”
Tires Dunlop Racing: front 10.00-13, rear 11.50-13
cost: ca. DM 45.000,-
Model year: 1969
Results: class winner at numerous hill climb championship races, overall winner Touring cars at Wasgau hill climb.
Acceleration data:
0 to 200 m: 11,1 sec
0 to 400 m: 17,1 sec – Escort GT (Serie) 18,9 sec
0 to 600 m: 22,3 sec
0 to 800 m: 27,1 sec
0 to 1000 m: 31,8 sec – NSU TT 36,1 sec
Top speed: 177,3 km/h at 8400 U/min

Hellgut reports that the Spiess NSU differs from most other NSU race cars. Spiess does away with the original TT intake manifold which is long and U-shaped and uses short straight tubes. To make this work he cuts a hole into the wall behind the backseat trunk and welds in a box to make room for the velocity stacks. The air enters from the side vent into this box. Double ignition adds about 6 hp. The low cost is mostly achieved because the bones of the car are already so well designed that it takes relatively few new parts. Mostly existing parts are massaged to achieve this performance level.


NSU Brixner Spyder 1300

The NSU Brixner Spyder 1300 was created by chopping a Prinz body almost completely down to the floor pan and fabricating an open body on it. Kurt Brixner’s main business is the production of plastic body parts for Porsche, thus he has the equipment and experience for this process. The engine was built by Siegfried Spiess, today Spiess Motorenbau GmbH. The competitor’s engines may have a few more horses than Spiess’. However his engines are more tractable than theirs. That’s very important since they are bolted to transmissions that have only 4 sets of gears. Watch a Brixner Spyder in action:

1969 Gepard TT

Ten Gephad TT were produced. These gull winged cars had a tubular space frame and a  BASF Leguval resin body weighing only 550 kg.

Friedel Münch bought an NSU Prinz, pulled out the engine and sold the rest of the car. He used this engine to create a superbike. This is a picture of a 1971 Münch 1200 TTS Mammut. It was so powerful that no spoked wheel could handle it. Therefore he designed and fabricated his own cast alloy wheel. The Münch Mammut is legendary and I cannot do it justice in this article.

And it all began on the basis the 250 cc motorcycle engine.

It is beautiful to see how people come together over the TT, TTS (and all the many NSU products really). There are many NSU clubs and meets. Her are some links:

NSU Owners Club, United Kingdom

scuderia nsu

NSU Prinz Club Schwaben e.V.

NSU Freunde Breisgau

NSU Club Netherlands

NSU Club Italy

Rennsport Zentrum

I don’t think the NSU enthusiasm is in any danger of abating. You see, they train them young:

The Schlunz Brothers were late for school. Coming back they had this to say: “PE was good, the rest was shit.” (PE= Physical Education or Sport).

On purpose I left out the clichés (GTI of the 60s/70s, first sports sedan, Porsche for the little guy, etc). None of them comes close to describing the phenomenon the NSU TT, TTS represent. They are not cars. They are raisons d’etre.

Let’s celebrate the TT/TTS story with a little more combustion chamber music:

Pinch me! This must be a dream!