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Museum Autovision: A guest in the largest NSU collection

Stephan Lindloff
Museum Autovision
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M just turn the crank with your hand and you're ready to move the gears. What it looks like in the car is shown in diagrams above the glass box in which the power transmission is explained.

The NSU Museum is intended to inspire young people for the engineering profession

'We set up the Science Arena in such a way that technology can be understood in different ways', says Horst Schultz, owner of the Autovision Museum in Altlußheim (www.museum-autovision.de). As he moves from exhibit to exhibit, he easily shakes mechanical relationships and physical principles from rotary engines to fuel cells out of his sleeve. You can tell immediately: Schultz is obsessed in a positive sense. And not just in old age. At the age of 17, he completed an apprenticeship as an electrical mechanic parallel to his Abitur. Schultz then attended the engineering school in Offenburg and founded his own company at an early age.

Today, at 62, his career is no longer on his mind. Today he wants to inspire others, especially young people, for what pulls him under its spell. 'It's a shame that too few people are interested in engineering. I want to try to change that.' And why automotive technology? During his academic years, Schultz was already working on an NSU Prinz 2E, with which he took part in mountain races from 1968 to 1970. So it is no coincidence that he bought the brand NSU to map the development of mobility. Second reason: NSU was one of the few manufacturers in the world to produce everything from bicycles to cars. Over the years, he has amassed the world's largest collection of the brand.

World record ride in the 50s on an NSU motorcycle

It all begins with the first bicycles, such as the penny farthing bike from 1870, which almost can be seen in its original condition. Just looking at it is enough to understand why a few years and several serious falls later, lower bikes with chain transmission were developed.

The next step is motorized two-wheelers - initially without a carburetor and spark plug. But even with these models, safety and reliability are not exactly the best. In 1900 NSU developed a motorcycle with a carburettor that was safer and more reliablewas. Visually it looks like the old black men's bike from Grandpa with a green painted small tank under the center bar. The engine crouches between the pedals and the front wheel. Numerous innovations such as the four-stroke engine followed over the years. The development culminated in the world record drives of the fifties, when Wilhelm Herz and Gustav Adolf Baum accelerated to over 300 km /h with NSU two-stroke engines and flow-optimized racing motorcycles.

The vehicles, which look like a mixture of UFO and racing bobsleigh, are in the basement, where Schultz documented developments after the Second World War. There are also the first mopeds such as the NSU Quickly, with which German mass mobility began in the 1950s. 'We have one of the first 100 Quickly', says Schultz, 'you can recognize it by the fact that the exhaust is still mounted on the left.' Since the mopeds were mostly carried into the basement after use and the people are mostly right-handed, a hot exhaust pipe on the left of the frame proved impractical.

Special exhibition on the NSU Wankel engine

However, the highlight of the collection are the post-war cars from NSU. For example the Prinz 4L, which he bought from a nun, or the Wankel Spider, with which NSU wanted to do business at US car dealers. There is an anecdote for almost every model. And since Schultz is not one who rests on his laurels, exhibits on future technologies such as fuel cells and hybrids have recently been added. A permanent special exhibition is dedicated to the subject of Wankel engines, and at the same time Schultz is building an NSU tricycle with which he wants to take part in the traditional old-timer trip from London to Brighton. One thing seems certain for the future: this museum is alive.


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