N.S.U.’s recent addition to their range, the 1200TT, is a well-finished car with a very lively performance. It is a logical development of the line, using the 1000 series bodywork with a modified version of the 1100SC air-cooled engine. Really, it is this motor which gives the car its appeal, for without its sparkling performance the 1200TT would be just another good, small car. It is a little more than that.
For a car of its size it is very nippy. From the inside the engine noise is quite low, although we were told that it sounded very noisy from the outside when accelerating hard. Making the motion is the tuned s.o.h.c. 4cylinder 1,177-c.c. engine, but the gilt on this gingerbread consists of a couple of downdraught Solex 34PCI carburetters. The engine uses an alternator and has the compression ratio upped to 9.2 to x, while the other modification is an oil cooler located just inside the near-side rear air vent. Breathing deeply through the Solexes, 65 b.h.p. (DIN) at 5,5oo r.p.m. (78 S.A.E.) are developed. Obviously such a tweeky engine is not going to develop loads of excess torque but at anything approaching 4,000 r.p.m.—it revs freely to seven—the punch really comes in. It would be interesting to know just what percentage of the car’s £847 price tag is spent on the engine and gearbox.
The transverse engine drives through a single dry-plate clutch and 4-speed synchromesh gearbox. The whole engine department is a joy to behold; it was immaculately clean and we were assured that it had never been cleaned in its life. Even though the torque is not very great at low revs town work presents no problems because the gearbox is so pleasant to use. Changes, although a long distance between the forward and rear positions, can be swiftly and smoothly made. The light and precise steering, which has three turns lock-to-lock, is by rack and pinion. The N.S.U. has awing axle rear suspension located by trailing arms; at the front double wishbones, trailing arms and a transverse stabiliser are used. The car hung on to any corner very well and only when the road was wet did the rear end break away. Even then one is expecting it and the Continental radial tyres do give a warning twitch. Because of its basic design the car is susceptible to Motorway wander at speed, while on uneven surfaces the ride is a trifle choppy, no doubt because of the stiffer suspension. The excellent seats, which have adjustable backs, hold the driver very well under such circumstances.
Styling is characteristic N.S.U. but with four headlights (very powerful) and rather garish space-age rear lights. It was nice to see that both bonnet and boot have interior releases, for we know from experience that nothing is safe unless locked securely out of sight.
The average fuel consumption, including much town work and a trip along a Motorway, worked out at a shade over 31.1 m.p.g. The car needed a definite knack to start and when first used in traffic had a tendency to stall. This quickly cured itself but so quiet was the engine on tick-over that it was difficult to tell whether it had expired.
The interor is nicely finished, plain and functional. There is a large speedometer, flanked on the left by a small rev.-counter (why not the other way round?) and on the right by a fuel gauge. There is a neat control for the 2-speed windscreen wipers and washers on the extreme right of the dashboard. It is in this department that one or two irksome points are found—the plastic-smelling heater which almost asphyxiated the occupants, no doubt because of its newness; the awkward upright pedals with little room for the right foot and nowhere to put the left when not “clutching”; the lack of fine adjustment on the otherwise very comfortable front seats; and the fuel gauge, which wagged its finger like a metronome. But one could get to live with all of these things, just for the delights of the engine and gearbox.—R. F.