1938 NSU-Fiat 508 C Cabriolet
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28th built. 29
NSU (Neckarsulmer Strickmaschinenfabrik) was a German manufacturer of textile machines founded in 1873 by Christian Schmidt and Heinrich Stoll, two young mechanics. Despite early collaborations with Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach we need to wait for the 1900s to have an NSU car. At the end of the First World War, the situation in Germany was chaotic. The supply of raw materials was also tricky. The NSU was among car manufacturers in severe trouble, and this situation dragged on for years to come. The solution came from Italy, and more precisely from Turin. FIAT was, at that time, the largest European manufacturer and had more than enough resources to take over the NSU in exchange for its more incisive penetration into the German market. The newborn NSU-Fiat was a car manufacturer under Fiat license in Germany. Only one vehicle from the NSU production remained, the NSU 7/34 PS Wagen, built until 1931. Fiat immediately began construction under its license of Fiat models, like the 500 "Topolino" and the Fiat 508 Balilla and sold them under the name NSU-Fiat. During that period, the same cars were made in France under the name Simca-FIAT. The production of the NSU-Fiat ended in 1941, in the middle of WWII. Gläser-Karosserie GmbH was a German coachbuilder, based in Dresden and known as a producer of custom-built cabriolet car bodies. The company was founded in 1864 and remained operative until 1952. Like NSU, also Gläser-Karosserie had seen several financially challenging years. During the 1930s Gläser-Karosserie produced cabriolet and other custom-built bodies for Auto Union brands, notably luxury bodies for Horch cars, but it was also producing bodies to use with chassis from other important German car makers. From 1935, the factory was also supporting the German military rearmament with unique bodies for "commando/staff cars". The 508 C was built by the NSU-Fiat with the permission of Fiat itself and was mechanically identical to the Italian car. Some frames were entrusted, as was the custom of the time, to coachbuilders such as the Gläser-Karosserie, specialised in luxury convertibles, as previously told.
Chassis no. 216239 is the 28th of only 29 cars built by the famous Gläser-Karosserie under the NSU license. While starting from the chassis and mechanical parts of the popular Fiat 508 C, the Gläser specialisation in luxury cars building is visible in every detail of the car. This type of car is listed and shown in the Gläser production brochure of the time and identified as a “SportWagen-cabriolet”. The story of the example is well known; while most of these cars were meant for the German market, the chassis no. 216239 was sold in Sweden, and still had (until 2019) Swedish documents and original Swedish plates. The car had in Sweden a sporty life: anong the owners, it is believed to have belonged to Anton "Skeks" Hansson, a well-known aviator, writer and manufacturer of ice-suited vehicles. He was also a racing car driver and used chassis no. 216239 in rallies on the ice, documented by photos of the era. The chassis no. 216239 was restored to perfection. The author of the restoration replaced the Simca engine, found on the car, with a Fiat 1100 engine consistent with the vehicle. The dark blue colour with brown leather interiors and canvas hood, the chrome mouldings and details, enhance the meticulous construction of this rare Gläser version, that recalls the luxurious bodyworks of the great German cars very much, even if on a reduced scale.