1958 NSU-FIAT 1100 Neckar. Blue-gray version

NSU-Fiat was a German automobile manufacturer which produced Fiat vehicles under license at a plant acquired from NSU in Heilbronn from 1929 to 1957.

In 1957, following a complicated litigation process over the right to use the by now increasingly high profile “NSU” name on passenger cars, the name used for the Fiat-designed cars was changed to Neckar, and with this name the company continued to produce Fiats in West Germany until 1971.

NSU Motorenwerke (subsequently NSU Werke) AG sold its then recently completed Heilbronn car factory (near the river Neckar) in 1929 to Fiat for one Million Marks, following financial problems resulting from the economic crisis. The deal resulted from an initiative by NSU’s bankers, Dresdner Bank.

Fiat’s German subsidiary started to produce Fiat Topolinos and Balillas models under license in the Heilbronn factory under the brand “NSU-Fiat”. (The same Fiat-designed models were also produced under license in Nanterre, France by SIMCA-Fiat the cars subsequently becoming known simply as “Simcas”.)

The Heilbronn plant had been built in 1926 by NSU, then a motor bike manufacturer, in order to break into the passenger car market, but the project had failed and by 1929 NSU had no ambitions to produce passenger cars, and therefore no reason to object when Fiat, having bought the plant, used it to manufacture cars badged as NSU-Fiats.

In 1929 friendly collaboration between NSU and the nearby Fiat subsidiary was agreed, with NSU supplying parts for the Heilbronn built Fiat models. A year later, however, relations had cooled as Fiat preferred to supply parts to its Heilbronn factory from its own Turin plant beyond the Alps, and also used the Heilbronn site as a bridgehead to facilitate the importation to Germany of fully assembled new cars from Italy.


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