At 9 a.m. on Wednesday, May 15th, seven assorted N.S.U.s set out from Land’s End on a virtually non-stop “reliability run” to John o’ Groats and back. Just over 46 hours later, at 7.10 a.m. on Friday, May 17th, the first car returned to the Land’s End Hotel, and just 20 minutes later all seven cars had returned.
Crewed by an assorted team of motoring journalists, five cars—one twin-Wankel Ro80, a 1200C, a 1200TT, a 1000C and a prototype of a new Prinz 4 model to be known as the Super Prinz—took part in the run proper, with a brace of 1200Cs acting as lead and service cars. This well-managed run proved to be virtually flat-out all the way, less stops for food and fuel, and really tortured the cars for almost two days. The service 1200C suffered a dynamo failure, replacement being the cure, and the lead car slid into a ditch in the Highlands, bending a wheel but being otherwise undamaged, but the five journalist’s cars never missed a beat.
I drove for over 850 miles, finding the two most impressive cars the Ro80 and the 1000C. The twin-Wankel car is roomy and comfortable, it’s difficult to see its extremities from the driving seat, but it is incredibly quiet and deceptively fast; its true maximum speed being over the 112 m.p.h. quoted. The gearchange, with torque converter clutches being disengaged by pressure on the three-speed gear lever knob, was a bit puzzling at first, but one soon became acclimatised, while with front-wheel drive, powerful disc brakes all round and Michelin XAS tyres the Ro80 could be cornered very quickly, and very safely.
The 1000C was totally different, being small and precise, with all-independent suspension giving superb handling qualities, this being one of the few standard family cars which can be really set up and slid through corners under full control. The gearchange was very quick with unbeatable synchromesh, while the car is well-finished if a little noisy.
Of the other cars, the 1200C is a larger-bodied version of the 1000 series, is quicker and more comfortable than the 1000C but lacks the speedy gearchange and “fun car” handling; the 1200TT was the quickest of them all on twisty roads with its 65-b.h.p. engine but was so quick as to make one take driving it very seriously; while the little Prinz endeared itself to everyone with its 598-cc. twin giving a true 75-m.p.h. maximum speed though, while sharing the handling characteristics of the 1000C, lacking the power to make the most of them.
Sample fuel consumption figures for the hard run were as follows:
Ro80, 20.3 m.p.g.; 1200TT, 26 m.p.g.; 1200C, 34 m.p.g.; 1000C, 30 m.p.g.; Super Prinz, 47 m.p.g.*
*These figures are not really representative of normal driving—the rush up and down the country returning near minimum consumption data.
This run, supported by Britax, Bosch, Castrol, Philishave, Pye, Solex and the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade (who provided first-aid kits), proved the apparent unburstability of the N.S.U. family as a whole, the sheer modernity and class of the Ro80 and put the 1000C near the top of my personal “wanted” list.—D. C. N.