The Ro 80 website for the Dutch language and now also English and
language- French new!
When you have troubles getting inside www.nsu-ro80.com try to enter www.ro80.nl
Ro 80 ('67 '77)
STAR of the Frankfort motorshow
The star of the 1967 Frankurt Auto Show, the NSU Ro 80 was a remarkable car. It was a revalation to the motoring world. I think it could be fairly said that it was the first car of the 1990's, but in 1967. I It was not just the rotary engine; almost every aspect of the car was amazingly advanced.
NSU has a long history going back to 1873 when they made sewing machines! Well, so what? The forerunners of GM were making buggy whips! "NSU" stands for Neckarsulmer - the name of the town where the company was located (and the site of a major Audi plant) is Neckarsulm in SW Germany. Later, they were suppliers to Daimler (Mercedes) Benz and became a major force (i.e.,one of the biggest manufacturers at the time) in motorcycles.
It has front drive, four wheel independent suspension, four wheel disc brakes (mounted inboard at the front), power rack and pinion steering, and body styling that took the rest of the industry decades catching up.
It has an incredible the era drag coefficient of
0.355. For the ride, handling and performance broke new ground for the period. It
is actually a fairly large car with a 113 inch whellbase and length and width
greater than some Mercedes of the period. The Ro 80 is very confortable,especially
the back seat.
The Ro 80 had a top speed of more than 180 km/h / 112 mph. This website gives you all the information you want on the subject Ro 80, history, design, technical problems, buying and selling of cars and parts, all possible data and much more.
Revolutionary design of the NSU Ro 80, whose influence can be seen today
'Vorsprung durch Technik" (progress through technology) runs the Audi marketing mantra. Make no mistake, Audi makes superb cars - now at the leading edge of automotive design. It has pioneered the aero-weapon "wedge" car designs - curved fronts, high tails and flush-glazed elegance. But Audi did not invent this style - someone else did.
The trick is that the someone else was part of a reborn Audi-NSU car company that re-emerged with VW in the 1960s. "The Future through Design". That was the legend printed all over the adverts for a car that had a unique never-seen-before design with a high rear-tail deck, flush glazing, a low front, curved roof, tuned aerodynamics and an advanced engine.
The car with all this was German and produced from 1967 to 1977 in just under 40,000 examples. Sadly, its advanced design became lost in the fog of an engine that kept going wrong. The car was the NSU Ro 80 and it was as revolutionary as the CitroŽn DS was in its time. This car was industrial design taken to the exquisite. In its shape lay the roots of modern car design - not least later Audis. Bertoni, Jaray, Sayer, Sason, Ledwinka, Porsche, etc, these are the names of earlier forays into aerodynamic car design. But advertising is strong stuff.
The names are forgotten by the public, and giant car-maker ad-men claim the fame - after all, was it not the Ford Sierra that invented modern aerodynamic styling? The Ford adverts of the time - as ultimate 'spin' - tried to suggest it, but this was crapiola.
The first car to "chop" the tail, build it up high and massively reduce the drag behind the car, as researched by a Dr Kamm, was the NSU Ro 80. In the 1960s, there was no other car like it, and even today its shape is aped by all (even Jaguar), and still looks fresh. NSU was established in southern Germany in 1905 - they made motorbikes in the town of Neckarsulm. Their first proper car came along in 1908. From the 1950s, NSU turned out small cars - weird little things with two-cylinder engines that looked like bathtubs and were named "Prinz". By 1963, NSU launched a rotary Wankel-engined coupe - the Spider - the world's first mass-produced use of this piston-less engine.
ot long afterwards, the twin-rotor Ro 80 came and went - as did a VW labelled K70 saloon that had started life as a smaller brother for the Ro 80, which VW inherited when it acquired the brand in 1969. For a few short years, the Ro 80's star shone over Europe. The problem was that the engine failed regularly, resulting in massive warranty bills for NSU and, later, bills for owners.
Worn rotor tips, and poor fuel economy eclipsed the engine's turbine-smooth wall of power, in-board brakes, superb handling and rare early clutchless, semi-automatic transmission. Also eclipsed was the car's design. Remember, when this car stunned the Frankfurt motor show in 1967, most cars had fins, chromed bulges, swages, and channels and gutters you could slice cheese on.
t really was the future, if you compared it with the Rover P5, the Ford Zephyr, or the Austin 1800 dinosaur-by-design. NSU's design team, led by Claus Luthe, created what they wanted - an organic piece of modern architecture that happened to be a car. It had brushed stainless-steel trim on the smooth roof pillars, headlamp lenses that were chamfered into the body, a "greenhouse" cabin with elegant rear quarter windows, and, above all that, a unique, high tail.
The shape had a stunning-for-the-time 0.35 CD drag figure and it kept its rear end clean in rain; likewise, the side windows. The car created a sensation in the motoring press and much debate - not least as to who designed it. Luthe gets the credit now, but NSU kept his name quiet at the time - and it was his first big success. Latterly, his hand can be seen in the shape of the early 1990s BMWs. Since those heady 1960s days, Ro 80s have become classics.
Now there is an Ro 80 club movement, and the cars are loved in Europe. Values are rising, and because it's not a French rust box, the bodies last. Three decades on, most of the fittings function. It's also a serene drive and just has to be a classic jewel in the making. This car is the great unsung hero of modern car design. It deserves a place in the motoring hall of fame. And is Audi making "Vorsprung through looking backwards" then?
REMARK-- The only problem is that not erverything is translated in English yet. But help is on the way. YOU CAN HELP!! This site is not owned by one person, it can only exist by the help of many other Ro 80 enthousiasts. This site -then is owned by us all.--
In terms of overall design, the Ro 80 still resembles a modern car. The rounded form incorporates few straight lines. Many consider the Ro 80's body has one of the most convincing four-door car designs since the Second World War. Claus Lutheís design boasted a drag factor of just 0.355. Road holding, using four independently mounted McPherson struts was outstanding. All round v isibility for the driver is unusually good even by modern standards. The interior is light, with a well considered lay-out.
Standard power steering makes the car easy to manoeuvre. Under the steeply sloping hood, somewhere below the air filter, sits that famously compact water cooled two chamber Wankel motor, with the three speed gearbox mounted in-line behind it. According to the inventor of the motor, Felix Wankel, that gearbox was the starting point of critical drivetrain problems. These were for the most part resolved by the NSU factory some time round the 1970 model year.
FIRST CONTACT WITH WANKEL
"NSUís first contact with Dr. Felix Wankel had been in 1951 when it had sealing problems with rotary valves on its racing motorcycles. Wankel then developed extraordinarily efficient superchargers for NSUís 1956 record breakers, and these were the direct forbears of the rotary engine, which first ran at the factory in 1957.
NSUís right to this engine led to a good deal of speculative investment in the
company, which also sold a license for its eventual use to Mazda. The
Japanese firm almost beat NSU into production with the Wankel, which had been
unexpectedly difficult to refine, but diplomatically held back for long enough
to let NSU launch the first Wankel powered car, the Wankel Spider in 1964, with
a 60 bhp single rotor engine in a shell derived from the sport Prinz, and
proved itself to be very successful in a number of competitions, although
In the news section
on frame main -mostly in Dutch--you can read of any ongoing changes to the website, and of the latest
events in ďRo 80-landĒ.
The webmaster anticipates a lot of future interest in the Ro 80.
Surely the exceptional nature of the Ro 80 must become more widely appreciated.
As well as having set the pattern for much of modern car design, the Ro 80 today is an excellent car for working on.
In its day, the Ro 80 was an expensive car and one incorporating some high value components.
If you are thinking of investing in a Ro 80, you would be well advised to contact an expert first.
That is something with which the webmaster of this site can help you.
This website is intended to make the Ro 80 more widely known and appreciated.
Take a bit of time to surf the site: if you still have questions, please contact me on email@example.com
Left: What was going on in Lahr -the birthplace of Felix Wankel-. Go and see the pictures now
I would love to hear from someone that is inspired to buy an Ro80 after visiting this site! Parts supplies are not as bad as you would expect, because nearly every Ro owner knows that he has something rare. Many are indeed beyond salvage but remain the source of parts for others. Very few have disappeared as a whole to the scrap iron press.
Wether you are inspired by the styling or the technology or both then the Ro 80 is resolutely the motor-car for you! It is not always easy but logical and sound engineering. If you fear the problems with the technology, then I can tell you that that it is better than expected and are better to work on than 'badly constructed' French or Italian cars, but donít take that too literally. However Ro's can rust too... look.
THE LAST NSU It was the last NSU: In 1969 NSU merged with Audi, which was part of the Volkswagen empire, to become part of Audi NSU Auto Union AG. NSUís design for a conventionally engined partner for the Ro 80 was taken over by Volkswagen and launched in 1971, disastrously, as its K70. With the successful smaller NSUs having already been phased out in late 1972, the Ro 80 was the companyís only product and good though it now was becoming it was too little too late. When the Ro 80 went in 1977, the NSU name went with it."
Royalties Jan Hullegie 2012 update this page: 23-07-20