This Fresh Prinz Not From Bel Air
Unique: Builder NSU also made motorbikes
The annual Hagerty Spring Thaw Classic Car Adventure took place last weekend; entry is limited to 65 vehicles, meaning many great cars end up on the waiting list.
The types of cars were as varied as the ages of their drivers and passengers.
The second oldest vehicle was a 1947 Chrysler Woodie driven by Tevie Smith who turns 80 this year; the youngest passenger was Phil and Calye Lacefield’s two-year-old son. The Washington State couple and their 1966 Saab Monte Carlo have never missed the event since its inception five years ago.
The assortment of cars ranged from a mid ’50s Bentley Continental R-Type Coupe, which in my opinion is one of the most elegant cars ever produced by Bentley, to a pink 1971 VW Beetle.
Some of the significantly collectible cars included a 1953 Aston Martin DB2, a 1957 Alfa Romeo Sprint Speciale, (the 1957 Turin Auto Show prototype), a 1960 Alvis TD 21 DHC, a 1961 Aston Martin DB4, the usual assortment of Alfa Romeos, BMWs, Fiats, Porsches, Saabs, Volvos and a large contingent of Minis.
This is not an event for trailer queens — every car attending came to be driven and enjoyed by their owners.
The photographed NSU Prinz, a car that is rarely seen today, turned up at our second evening stopover to view the cars in the hotel parking lot. This mid-’60s car resembling a miniature Corvair is powered by a 600 cc, OHV, two-cylinder, air-cooled engine fitted in the rear of the car. The engine is a continuation of the eccentric rod-driven NSU motorcycle engines with a dynastar combination starter motor/generator which is built into the crankcase.
The NSU Company (derived from the rivers Neckar and Sulm) was founded in Germany by Christian Schmidt in 1873; he manufactured knitting machines, replaced by bicycles in 1892, and motorcycles appeared in 1901 followed by a car in 1905.
My memories of NSU cars are of the first licensee company to build a car using the rotary Wankel engine and the disastrous NSU Ro 80. Mazda was the only manufacturer capable of perfecting the design and used the engine in its cars up until the RX-8.