The bizarre story of the NSU P10 Uruguay, the unknown air-cooled ancestor of Audi station wagons

Jul. 19th, 2023, 08:51 PM GMT
Before the post-war revival of the Audi brand and the merger of Auto Union, who owned the Audi brand, with NSU, there was a bizarre station wagon with the NSU badge, which Audi history almost never mentions, because it was too bizarre, too atypical and too little popular to have known worldwide fame at that time. But this car has such a strange construction that it is incredible that someone could think of such a formula.
NSU, ​​still an independent brand in 1967, had an importer in Uruguay based in Montevideo called Quintanar. At that time the importer set up the local assembly of the NSU Prinz 4 model, from large subassemblies imported from Germany. But the local market demanded large and practical station wagons with more room for heavy luggage, so the guys there initially adapted the Prinz 4 model, creating the P6 station wagon, with the chopped design we see here, but for now with the same NSU Prins engine, with 2 cylinders, in 2 strokes. The initial model, launched in 1968, was called the NSU P6 and, despite the weak engine, 140 had been sold by the end of the year.
That motivated the Uruguayans to ask NSU to produce a station wagon with a more powerful engine. In May 1969, a delegation from Uruguay came to Germany, to the factory in Neckarsulm, to discuss the probability of such a station wagon. Also in 1969, however, the merger of NSU and Auto Union had taken place, and NSU and Audi were already effectively one manufacturer, the NSU brand being kept for a few more years on some models.
The Germans and Uruguayans concluded that the only NSU engine that could be used was the 1.0-liter, 4-cylinder, 4-stroke engine from the NSU Prinz 1000. But it did not fit under the front hood without too expensive constructive modifications. But there was room in the back.
The idea of ​​having a station wagon with an engine located in the back, the essence of which is the large space in the trunk, seems completely absurd, but this is exactly what the NSU P10 is, a station wagon with the engine placed under the floor of the trunk, being also air-cooled!
The engine has 996 cubic cm, so 1 liter, hence the name P10, and produces 43 HP, which qualifies it as a really powerful car on the Uruguayan market, and the advertising of the time specifically qualifies it as such.
This bizarre station wagon could reach 120 km/h, but the German engineers gave the Uruguayans a long list of technical corrections that needed to be done before production, which were never done, so the car entered the production with multiple design problems, including a suspension that is not exactly maneuverable and not exactly comfortable, an almost non-existent sound insulation in the back, an imprecise steering and many others. The car had received the green light from the German authorities with the promise that these corrections would be made, but since it was no longer sold in Germany, those authorities no longer verified the conformity of the model.
It was sold only in Uruguay and earned the nickname NSU Uruguay, which was assigned to both the P6 and P10 versions. The car was produced between 1969 and 1971, in about 500 copies. In 1971, NSU decided to leave the Uruguayan market altogether, which put an end to the production of this bizarre station wagon, the ancestor of today's Audi Avants.
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