Classic cars have always held a special place in the hearts of auto enthusiasts. When combined with futuristic technology, these vehicles represent a harmonious blend of the past and the future. Audi’s recent experiment demonstrates just this.
Celebrating the 150th anniversary of its Neckarsulm production facility in Germany, Audi undertook a project to combine its rich history with its vision for the future. In an unexpected move, the German automaker engaged a group of apprentices to transform a classic car, a 1971 NSU Prinz, into a sporty electric vehicle built on Audi’s e-tron platform.
The history of NSU Prinz dates back to the 1957 Frankfurt Motor Show when the first model was unveiled. Launched as a modest, boxy two-door with a 600cc two-cylinder engine, the NSU Prinz underwent several iterations. By the time the Prinz 4 made its debut in the early 1960s, it flaunted a bolder and more aggressive angular design. These vehicles were manufactured at the Neckarsulm site by NSU Motorenwerke from 1961 to 1973.
The journey of reviving the 1971 NSU Prinz began earlier this year at the Audi facility. A 12-member team of trainees embarked on the design study. The bodywork specialists started by addressing the chassis of the new creation, now named EP4. Rust spots were treated, and the vehicle’s body was widened using 3D-printed “muscular fenders”, a collaboration with Audi Design. While the team retained some of the original’s elements like the front and rear lighting and the “characteristic shoulder and roof lines”, the makeover also included wide wheels with modern performance tires. A fresh coat of Suzuka Grey and Brilliant Black adorned the body, and the number 150 was painted on the sides as a nod to the facility’s anniversary.
In terms of performance, the team replaced the 30-hp gasoline engine with a powerful 240-hp (176-kW) electric motor sourced from a 2020 Audi e-tron. The old fuel tank made way for a battery pack from an Audi Q7 TFSI e quattro plug-in hybrid. Further design tweaks included an air-cooling mechanism through a wide intake at the front bumper and a vent on the hood to dissipate accumulated heat.
The interior is a minimalist’s dream. A striking yellow-painted roll cage contrasts with the predominantly black interior. “Recaro Podium” bucket seats welcome occupants, while a single-board computer and display act as a digital instrument cluster.
While there is no word on whether Audi will consider commercializing this electric rendition of the NSU Prinz, the project has certainly made waves within the company. Audi Board Member, Xavier Ros, lauded the efforts of the apprentices, saying, “With admirable commitment and considerable creativity, our apprentices have built a tremendous car. Projects like this show that our company has a strong future thanks to our young talent.”
While pricing information isn’t provided, given that this remains a design study, it serves as a testament to Audi’s commitment to innovation, its rich heritage, and the immense potential of its young trainees.