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1970 NSU RO80

Innovative Two-Rotor, Front-Wheel Drive with 4-Wheel Disc Brakes and Independent Suspension

Production Years




Number Produced

37, 204


Felix Wankel

The NSU RO 80, produced by the German firm NSU from 1967 to 1977 with a total of 37,204 vehicles, was a technologically advanced large sedan-type automobile. Notably, its powertrain featured a groundbreaking 113 bhp, 995 cc twin rotor Wankel engine that drove the front wheels through a semi-automatic transmission utilizing an innovative vacuum system. This engineering marvel earned the RO 80 the prestigious title of Car of the Year in 1968, as voted by European automotive writers.

Designed by Claus Luthe, who served as the head of design at NSU and later BMW, the RO 80's styling was considered modern for its time and still stands the test of time.  The NSU RO 80 featured a twin rotor Wankel engine with a displacement of 995 cc, producing 113 bhp at 6,500 rpm and 101 ft lbs of torque at 3,000 rpm. The car boasted advanced features, including four-wheel independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, power steering, and excellent aerodynamics, positioning it as a visionary car of its time.

NSU, initially a major motorcycle manufacturer, entered the automobile market with the world's first Wankel rotary-engined car, the NSU Spider, in 1964, followed by the NSU RO 80 in 1967. Despite its futuristic design, the RO 80 faced challenges related to the reliability of the Wankel engine. Apex seal failures and fuel economy concerns affected the car's reputation, leading to a decline in sales. By 1977, production ceased, and NSU was acquired by Volkswagen.

Despite the challenges faced by the RO 80, the car has been featured in numerous gallery exhibits focusing on modern industrial design. Today, surviving NSU RO 80s are highly regarded as prized classic cars, reflecting their enduring appeal and historical value.

1970 NSU RO80
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