THROUGH THE SHOWROOM DOOR
1963 NECKAR WEINSBERG 500 COUPE
NSU-Fiat was a German car manufacturer that 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 Germany until 1971.
The Neckar Weinsberg 500 was produced in two versions, the Limousette and Coupé, and was based on the Fiat Nuova 500 (1957-1977), with equal driving performance and handling characteristics. Introduced in March 1959 as the NSU/Fiat, 6,228 vehicles were manufactured from 1959 to 1963, with daily production peaking at 14 cars. The price was 3,840DM in 1959 and 3,620DM in 1962.
The Coupe and the Limousette only differed in their rear window design: The coupé featured a wraparound panoramic rear screen, allowing only enough headroom above the rear seat for small children. The Limousette, however, had rear side windows and a steeper, conventional rear window like a small saloon, hence the name.
In contrast to the Autobianchi Bianchina (an Italian 500-based minicar), both Weinsberg versions were built from partially assembled car bodies with modifications to both front and rear panels. The front bonnet is higher, as is the wing profile, with finned rear wings and rear lights that are unique to the Weinsberg. The cars benefited from some equipment upgrades in character with a luxury version: a sunroof instead of a folding roof, special bumpers, standard two-tone paint and wheel covers, an ashtray in the dashboard, better upholstery fabrics, and wide pockets in the doors. Never officially intended for the UK market, only five RHD cars are known to exist. What's more, the survival rate of these Neckars has not been good, with only approximately 50 cars currently known to the Neckar Weinsberg register.
Never officially intended for the UK market, only five RHD examples are known to exist. What's more the survival rate has not been good, with approximately only 50 cars currently known to the Neckar Weinsberg register.
Believed to be one of only five right-hand drive Neckar Weinsbergs in existence, this rare coupe was supplied in 1963 to Saint Helier, Jersey. In its early years the car changed hands between companies at the same address but was eventually sold to a lady with a Spanish surname. She owned the Neckar until it was confiscated in Alicante by Spanish customs in 1986, "in lieu of payment of fines". All of this is documented by the Jersey Archives.
As normal in these cases, the car was auctioned off to recover some revenue. Because of its age and illegality it was sold for ‘scrap', but fortunately went to a pioneer car collector and former president of the Veteran Car Club of Spain, Eugenio Martin Rubio. Eugenio had a very keen eye for the unusual and saved a lot of interesting cars from the crusher. The mileage of 31,000 miles is believed to be original.
The Neckar was parked up on jacks and remained untouched until 2008, when Eugenio began to sell off his collection. The vehicle was then purchased by the current owner who started the restoration process shortly after. The first stage was mechanical; a garage in Alicanti rebuilt the engine and gearbox in 2009. The project then remained on hold until 2013, at which point all aspects of the restoration were managed by the Spanish company, Italclassic.
The owner's philosophy was to build a show car with a focus on originality. The factory colour scheme, however, was changed to a more pleasing aesthetic, but only Fiat/Lancia colours were chosen. All major components are original with only consumables having been replaced. Some parts unique to the Neckar, such as mouldings and the rear screen, were re-made from scratch by a bodywork specialist named Marcos Blastor. Others fixtures such as the rear lights and badges came from swap meets, etc. throughout Europe.
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