THE BEGINNING ............ AM ANFANG - HET BEGIN         translated by : Eef Sluiter Amsterdam   

Het Begin- Anfang- The beginning get the Flash plugin at the startpage
 PROSPECTS ARE GOOD !                                                                                              update: 03-02-06

The prospects to build a successful car where good

There was never build a big car at NSU and the designers had complete freedom to use their creativity. Completely different, that was the Ro 80 without a doubt when the car was born in 1967. Not only from appearance, but also engine-wise the engineers of NSU where taking a complete other road.

The engine was a hyper-modern two-chamber rotary motor. Named  “WANKEL” after the inventor Felix Wankel (see picture left)


The design process you can see at LUTHE DESIGN.


In March 1964 the first 1:1 wooden model was finished. (picture left) This is a very important step because the designer really can see the measures of what was only on paper.


As you can see the wheelarces have not reached the finals. The hood and Paravan are also very different. But the main lines are there. What was missing is the inside design.

Claus Luthe, the designer wanted to make the wheelarces smaller, but he was not give the time to do so. He comments where “ The car was taken out of my hands to soon”. 

 It is nice to know that for testing reasons they put a Renault 16 behind the RO80 and drove up to the top of the Gross Glockner (mountain in Austria) But there is also a photo where the Ro 80 was behind the Renault!!.

The first test-Ro 80 where giving traditional vins at the back and round front lights. These test cars where all red. Within the wind tunnel the aerodynamic features of the car where very, very good. The Cw-value was 0.355 and that value is still good today. The small and low build in engine was a credit to this. But especially the low front screen gives a very good airflow.





These are pictures of the first Ro 80 folder. The color is sepia. This version has never  been produced. The wooden dashboard was replaced by a black leatherlook one. The logo in the center of the stearingweel was also removed in the final version.

But because of the Wankel engine the new NSU was haunted with bad luck. Although we know better now, the bad reputation had to come from somewhere.

Right: At the international motor fare in 1967 in Frankfurt the car was a sensation!                     


Indeed the engine was giving trouble in the beginning with internal sealing and the front bearings where worn out very quickly and therefore an engine was killed often. NSU was doing everything to overcome this problem. A special colt start program was in place in 1969 where the people of the factory drove a car every morning a few miles and than set to a holt. This was to get a better look at the worn out problems. In 1969- when the model year 1970 begun- the factory came with a strongly changed engine, and all the sealing problems where gone. Internal by using Ferrotic, a new and worn free material. The ignition was completely new and also the way the engine was cooled.   


What a pity, a better engine but the bad name was already there. After the first bad year the Ro 80 was an exotic car with an engine started to early. Even if the car has a lot of talents to be a major role-player in the car history. Do not forget that a Ro 80 costs 6 times as much as an Opel Kadett….
NSU could not develop the engine any further because of the technical complexity, also because the dealer organizations did not know how to cope with the new and totally different engine. “Defective” engines most of the time had wrong settings on the carburetors or ignitions. The trouble had most of the time nothing to do with the engine it selves.
But if you give a very high warranty of 30.000 km or 18 months on the technical site of the car, that only gives it a reason to go wrong in the end.                                                                                         


Several owners of the Ro 80 tried to burnout their engine by running extremely high revs without oil just before the warranty time was over. So they could claim a new engine. Of course they’re where also real problems where the engine was locked solid. In a road test in the US during 30.000 km the car used 3 engines without any known extra “strange” driving. The third however was doing till the owner sold it. To little oil, wrong handling the gearbox in the end leads to in repairable damage. It would be good to revise the engines again. Upper left: a working model of a Wankel engine (thanks to Fred). Those who have a touch of technique and treat the car with respect will have a very reliable partner on the road. And a beautiful partner as well although not every body will agree. Real classic as in nostalgic the Ro 80 is not this because the design was very much ahead of his time

Am Anfang stand der Mut: In the beginning there was innovation braveness.



A big advantage for the lovers of the Ro 80 today is the fact that the car was build with the best components ever. After 30 years you still unscrew anything. Solid German constructions of course. And all of this in a very nice design, of
course a fine combination, try to repair a Frence car of the same age.


Only experts will spot the Ro 80 in today’s traffic and even then it is hard to see. Most of the time this is what happens: First people drive by, next they lower there speed and you will drive by. This happens another time and thums up from the other cars and going there way. Or as I found out, you could see people debating in the cars that passed us, what the hell is that car. NSU never heard of. And when you are in the streets of Amsterdam, washing the car, someone falls of his bike and screams “ he, that car is the one my father had and I still like it very much”. We talked about it a quite a long time and a DS driver passes by and gave a compliment to the car. Very nice 

With some little alterations even if not necessary the car would do very well in a showroom full of brandnew cars. The polished stainless steel bumpers, the thin doors and the mirror on the outside are the only things that say “this is a classic car”. The car fits very well in the line of retrodesign-cars like the Rover 75 and Alfa 156, only for the Ro 80 you do not need to change a thing!!!!! 


Have a look at the most beautiful presentation of the Ro 80, a very rare car folder.



A very beautiful and difficult to find very big salesmap. Size: 23x 42 centimetres has 4 different folders -also in size-. Themes are technic, design, options and behavior.

Always 8 sides German text with a lot of pictures of the car, the interior, the engine and different technical details. This is really a collectors item for the Ro 80 fan.

D: Sehr schöne, seltene und äußerst umfangreiche Verkaufsmappe im Großformat 23x42cm vom NSU RO 80. Weiße Mappe mit 4 verschiedenen Einzelprospekten (Form, Technik, Ausstattung und Eigenschaften).

Jeweils 8 Seiten Text in deutsch und zahlreichen Abbildungen vom Fahrzeug, Innenraum, Motor, verschiedenen technischen Details und Ausstattungsdetails.  Sehr schönes Sammlerstück für den RO 80 Fan.