1956 NSU Supermax
A nostalgic trip to 1956 aboard a timeless beauty, the NSU Supermax
John Gary Brown’s 1956 NSU Supermax is a willing runner. Light and nimble, it’s perfect for running quick errands.
Photo by Ric Anderson
1956 NSU Supermax
Years produced: 1956-1963
Total production: 15,000 (est.)
Claimed power: 18bhp @ 6,750rpm
Top speed: 78mph
Engine type: Overhead cam, air-cooled single
Weight: 174kg (383lb) dry
Price then: $700 (1956, est.)
Price now: $3,000-$7,000
True love kept John Gary Brown and his 1956 NSU Supermax together. Well, that and a dead coil.
When unanticipated health care expenses forced Brown to part with most of his collection of classic German motorcycles several years ago, he faced an agonizing choice to sacrifice either the NSU Supermax or a 1956 Adler MB250.
Each bike had its virtues. Although the single-cylinder NSU is slow and underpowered by modern standards, Brown saw timeless beauty in its engineering, fit and finish, especially the unorthodox workings of its 250cc power plant. But the teenager in his brain was screaming at him to keep the Adler, which could kick the living sauerkraut out of the NSU in speed and quickness.
Watch the NSU Supermax in action
"It really was a toss-up," Brown says. "The NSU ran well, but so did the Adler. I rode the Adler in town a lot more than the NSU, in fact, because I could keep up with traffic better."
The Supermax, however, had one crucial part that the Adler lacked — a dual seat for Brown and the love of his life, his wife, Christy. Brown had been unable to find a two-up saddle that looked right on the Adler, and that inadequacy was enough to tip the scales.
"Finally, it came down to that," Brown says. "I wanted to be able to ride around with Christy. Plus, the Adler had stopped working for a while. I think it probably only needed a new coil, but we needed to sell it right away. So I sold it to a collector who didn’t care if it ran or not. In fact, I sold it to a guy named Adler."
Call it destiny, serendipity or circumstance, but it seems fitting that Brown, a creative artist, kept the NSU Supermax.
He and his inventive single are a well-matched pair, and both are quick to bring a smile to your face.
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