13 Months Gone 1965 NSU Wankel Spider – Sold?

by | Mar 2023 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Sports Car Saturday

(To stop the slideshow and expand the pictures, click on the current photograph below)

April 14, 2023, Update – While this “Classifind” expired recently, given the seller’s history, we suspect it may not actually be sold yet.  For now, we’re labeling this ride “Sold?” However, we will keep an eye out for an updated listing. In the interim, please reach out either by email or call Rudy directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

March 14, 2023 Update – The seller replaced their latest expired listing with a fresh Craigslist ad.  The pictures, description, and $12,750 asking price remain the same.

February 1, 2023 Update – The seller replaced their expired Craigslist ad with a fresh listing in which the already lowered asking price, pictures, and description remain the same.

January 1, 2023 Update – After a ten-month absence following the expiration of their last ad at the end of March 2022, the same seller just relisted their extremely rare and rotary-powered 1965 NSU Spider. After raising their asking price from $13,500 to $25,000 in their original listing, in this latest ad, the seller is back down to $12,750 for a non-running restoration candidate.

April 24, 2022, Update – We just confirmed the listing for this “Classifind” expired, so with no replacement found, we’re assuming this ride is “Sold?” until we come across a replacement ad.

March 23, 2022 Update – Wow, that escalated quickly.  Exactly one week after posting their Craigslist ad for this rare ’65 NSU Spider, the seller raised their asking price from a condition-appropriate $13,500 by nearly double to a new asking price of $25,000. That’s a lot of money to ask for a non-running project car in need of what is likely an unobtainium windshield.

Fun fact: Mazda was not the first automobile company to offer a rotary-powered car.  That credit goes to German automobile manufacturer Neckarsulm Motorenwerke, known as “NSU.” If you’re unfamiliar with the company, NSU merged with Auto Union to form Audi. That’s a story for another time.  NSU launched its innovative Wankel-powered car in 1965. Offered in either red or white only, this 1965 NSU Wankel Spider for sale, originally listed in March 2022 on Craigslist in Lyons, Illinois, appears to be a survivor-quality example painted the latter.  The seller reports their NSU Spider is a non-running project car needing a new windshield and convertible top. This Spider has only 13,665 miles on the odometer and is a very rare car, with only 2,375 built over a four-year production period.

Currently offered for $12,750 (the original ask was $13,500), comparing that price against the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool confirms the seller has their Wankel Spider priced between this guide’s #4 “Fair” estimate of $10,200 and its #3 “Good” appraisal of $19,500.

NSU Motorenwerke AG, known as “NSU,” produced the innovative Spider from 1964 through 1967. During that time, the company only managed to sell 2,375 units.  The Bertone-designed Spider was the first Western production car in the world to be powered by a Wankel rotary engine.  The water-cooled single-rotor engine and standard front disc brakes differentiated the car from other cars of the time.

Invented by Felix Wankel, the Wankel engine differed from a piston engine because of the quasi-oval design of the combustion chamber, containing a rotor that ascribed within the chamber an epitrochoid-shaped trajectory, enabling the combustion pressure to be converted directly into a rotary motion. There was no need to lose energy converting reciprocating movement into rotational movement. The result was a remarkably compact free-revving engine which, in the 1960s, was hailed as the next major step forward in automobile design. It was later found that the characteristics of critical materials selected and applied by NSU to build production rotary engines were inappropriate to the stresses they would bear, and rotary-engined cars earned a reputation for unreliability. Engines required frequent rebuilding to replace worn apex seals, and warranty costs associated with the installation of the engine in NSU’s second Wankel-engined model destroyed the financial viability of NSU, forcing a merger with Audi in 1969.

NSU installed the rotary engine above the Spider’s rear axle, being compact, light, and free-revving compared to conventional piston engines of the time. By ignoring the manufacturer’s recommendations, it was possible to rev the engine briefly above 7,000 rpm in the lower gears and thereby achieve a 0 – 62 mph time of 14.5 seconds.

The DW News YouTube Channel features this historical overview of the NSU Spider:

Without checking, we predict many replacement parts to get the NSU rotary engine will likely be unobtainable. Consequently, we wonder whether this car might make an interesting Mazda Rotary swap or, better yet, perhaps the car would be better served to receive a conversion to electric power.

Here’s the seller’s description:

“What we have here is a 1965 NSU Wankel Spider Cabriolet with 13,665 miles on the odometer. This very rare car – with only 2,375 built over a four-year production period – makes it a highly desirable collectible today. The car is finished in White with its original Red and Black Vinyl Interior, which is in very good condition. This NSU cabriolet has a convertible roof that needs to be replaced. Apart from its water-cooled single-rotor engine and standard front disc brakes, the NSU Wankel Spider was unremarkable in most respects.
First appearing at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1964, the Spider featured a two-door cabriolet body based on that of the NSU Sport Prinz coupé introduced back in 1959. In addition to the folding roof, the Spider was distinguishable from the hard-top car by a grill at the front. As with all NSU cars at the time, the engine was rear-mounted: in order to improve weight distribution, space was found for the Spider’s radiator and for its 35-liter (9 US gal) fuel tank ahead of the driver. The front luggage locker was in consequence small. There was a second luggage area in the rear of the car.
This 1965 NSU Wankel Spider Cabriolet needs a new windshield and a new top, the engine turns but is not running, but in general, this will make a terrific and interesting project car. This car is unlikely to last long so if an antique NSU Spider is something you might be interested in, act now.”

Do you have an NSU Spider story to share?  If so, comment below and let us know!

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