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SNAPSHOT 175: 1907 Neue Automobil-Gesellschaft Water-Cart

The Illustrated London News for 16th March 1907 showed some wonderful images from the Commercial Motor Show at Olympia – and this was the most remarkable.  It shows a vehicle captioned as: “A Water-Cart for Berlin: Four-Cylinder 16-18 H.P. by the Neue Automobil Gesellschaft.”  Displayed proudly on the tank side are the words: “City Street Cleaning, BERLIN.”

This truck was made by the notable Berlin firm more commonly known as NAG.  The circular radiator shell is typical of this company, which was founded as a division of the famous electrical firm AEG (Allgemeine Elektrizitäts-Gesellschaft).

In 1902, AEG purchased the coachbuilding side of Kühlstein under engineer Joseph Vollmer, renaming it NAG.  The company’s first two cars were reliable, if unoriginal: the two-cylinder Typ A and 5.2 litre four-cylinder Typ B, both with chain drive.  What more we can discover about NAG principally concerns its motor cars, which enjoyed much success in sizes up to an enormous 33/75 H.P. 8½-litre K8, made from 1905 to 1914.

Nonetheless, we find mention of NAG trucks in the literature, including the cryptic phrase: “Helped by successful commercial vehicle sales, NAG prospered…”

Pictures on the internet do show similar trucks to the one in our Snapshot, including an open truck, also from 1907, with the same chain-drive rear axle and twin solid-tyred rear wheels – and of course the round radiator – and a charabanc sporting the wording “Société des Tramways d’Alexendrie”.  So, apart from exhibiting in Great Britain, the commercial vehicle division of NAG was clearly exporting to other countries, including Egypt.

Commercial vehicles were a significant part of the business, as evidenced by a German advertisement around this time announcing their manufacture of luxury cars, omnibuses and tractors, trucks and taxis.  They used the strapline “Simple – Safe to Operate – Reliable” and reminded customers of their Gold Medal from Vienna in 1904 – and made it clear that they were a division of the highly respected AEG company.

By 1914, NAG was one of the largest motor vehicle manufacturers in Germany, with annual production of over 2000 – a significant proportion of these being trucks and buses.   Thereafter, some experienced designers were hired by the company, including Christian Riecken, ex-Métallurgique and Minerva, in 1914, to design the post-war C4 4-cylinder with an attractive oval vee-radiator, and much later, in 1929, Paul Henze, ex-Impéria, Steiger, Simson and Selve, who designed the large and impressive Typ 218/219 powered by a 4,508cc 100 H.P. V8, to compete with the contemporary Mercedes-Benz from Mannheim.

As the 1930s progressed, NAG production of cars declined, ceasing in 1934.  But in 1931 NAG had merged with Büssing, and continued to make trucks and buses under the Büssing-NAG name until 1950.

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