Tuesday, June 9, 2015

NSU Ro 80 (1967-77)

NSU Motorenwerke AG, or NSU, was a German manufacturer of automobiles, motorcycles and pedal cycles, founded in 1873. Acquired by Volkswagen Group in 1969, VW merged NSU with Auto Union, which eventually evolved into Audi.

The NSU Ro 80 is a four-door, front-engine sedan manufactured and marketed by the West German firm from 1967 until 1977. Noted for innovative, aerodynamic styling and a technologically advanced powertrain, the Ro 80 featured a 113 bhp (84 kW; 115 PS), 995 cc twin-rotor Wankel rotary engine driving the front wheels. The car featured an automatic clutch which was commonly described as a three-speed semi-automatic gearbox: there was no clutch pedal, but instead, on top of the gearknob, an electric switch that operated a vacuum system which disengaged the clutch. The gear lever itself then could be moved through a standard 'H pattern' gate.

The styling, by Claus Luthe who was head of design at NSU and later BMW, was considered very modern at the time. The large glass area foreshadowed 1970s designs such as Citroën's. Interior trim combined cloth covered seats with PVC headlining and a carpeted floor. Leather seats were a factory option, although rarely specified.The car developed an early reputation for unreliability. The Ro80 engine in particular suffered from construction faults, among many other problems, and some early cars required a rebuilt engine before 30,000 miles (50,000 km). By the 1970 model year, most of the reliabity issues had been resolved, but a necessarily generous warranty policy and damage to the car's reputation had undermined NSU's financial situation irreparably.

The Ro 80 was voted Car of the Year for 1968 and 37,398 units were manufactured over a ten-year production run, all in a single generation. (wikipedia)

(Photos from classicbid.de, fahrzeuge.startbilder.de & motoexotica.com)

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