1967 NSU Ro 80

The 1967 NSU Ro 80 was the last car to bear the NSU name; the company was acquired by the Volkswagen Group in 1969, and they promptly merged it with Auto Union, the result of which is known today as Audi. The The Ro 80 was the world’s first sedan that was designed and build around a twin-rotor Wankel engine. It featured a very smooth, aerodynamic styling that was incredibly futuristic (without being tacky) and greatly appreciated. The car’s front-wheel drive and excellent power steering were widely praised, as was its handling. Unfortunately, it had other issues.

1967 NSU Ro 80
1967 NSU Ro 80

The Ro 80 was powered, as mentioned previously, by a 2-liter, twin rotor rotary Wankel engine, which produced 115 horsepower. It was very low on initial torque, however, so it was coupled to a vacuum-operated three-speed semi-automatic, clutch-less transmission to help mask the issue, which was successful. The car could reach a top speed of 115 miles per hour, and accelerate to 60 in 13 seconds, which were not embarrassing (but hardly exceptional) figures.

1967 NSU Ro80 (side)
1967 NSU Ro80 (side)

What really killed the Ro 80 was its engine. It suffered from a fatal design flaw on its rotor-tip seals, which degraded extremely quickly. After only 15,000 miles, the engines started to leak oil, lose power and increased their fuel consumption until they were unsuited for use. NSU was very honest and generous with warranty claims, which quickly tanked the whole company. Some cars are known to have received as many as nine new engines!

The 1967 NSU Ro 80 stayed in production until 1977; it was the last vehicle to bear the storied NSU name.

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