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1970 NSU RO 80

ROTARY ENGINE

Production Years: 1967-1977
Country: Germany
Number Produced: 37,204

Engineered by Felix Wankel

The NSU RO 80 was a technologically advanced, large sedan-type automobile produced by the German firm NSU from 1967–1977 with a production of 37,204 vehicles. Most notable was the powertrain: 113 bhp, 995 cc twin rotor Wankel engine driving the front wheels through a semi-automatic transmission employing an innovative vacuum system.

 

It was voted Car of the Year in 1968 by European automotive writers. The styling was by Claus Luthe, who was head of design at NSU and later BMW, was considered very modern at the time and still holds up well; the RO 80 has been part of many gallery exhibits of modern industrial design. Surviving NSU’s are now considered highly prized classic cars with values to match.

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The Wankel engine is a type of internal combustion engine that uses a rotary design. It was invented by a German engineer named Felix Wankel in the 1950s. Instead of pistons moving up and down like in a traditional engine, the Wankel engine has a triangular rotor that moves in a circular motion inside a specially shaped housing. This design allows for a smoother operation and a higher power-to-weight ratio than traditional engines. The Wankel engine was used in some sports cars and motorcycles in the 1960s and 1970s, but its use has declined in recent years due to concerns about fuel efficiency and emissions.