Founded in 1873, the company was originally called the “Mechanische Werkstaette zur Herstellung von Strickmaschinen“ (Mechanical workshop for the production of knitting machines). Requiring more space, in 1880 the company relocated its headquarters to Neckarsulm near Heilbronn. From 1886 onwards, bicycles were also manufactured and from 1901 the development of motorcycles was intensively pursued, following in 1906 by that of automobiles.
Highly successful NSU products included the NSU Lambretta scooter, the 250 cc motorcycle NSU Max 251, OSB and the NSU Quick.
NSU motorcycles won countless titles and world records in the 1950s and some in the 1960s. Famous winning motorcycles were the Rennmax, Sportmax, Rennfox R11 and Rennfox “Blue Whale“.
Contrary to a widespread fallacy, the name NSU is not derived from the “Naehund Strickmaschinen Union”. The brand name is rather an abbreviation for the town of Neckarsulm, which in turn is derived from the names of the two rivers, Neckar and Sulm, which run together there.