Classic Cars

NSU Ro80 – The Aerodynamic, Futuristic Failure & The First German Car Of The Year

It was as brave deciscion to launch a car like the Ro 80. In many ways it was revolutionary. The new engine , the clutchelss gearbox operation, with and electrially controlled clutch engaging when you touched the gear lever.

It was so good that one year after the launch international trade journalists voted the NSU Ro “Car of the Year” which made the NSU Ro 80 the first car to do so.

Sadly this didn’t turn into commercial success. The wankel roatary engine had a few issues, notably where the tips would wear out if there was too much uncombusted fuel still in the bores. The new type of engine required a new style of driving, and ownership. Those used to their conventional piston powered cars really needed to operate the Ro 80 differently. 

This compounded with less than ideal fuel economy and the oil crisis of 1973, drove up riunning costs and people switched to smaller more economical cars.

The end of the rotary piston engine came and took the Ro 80 with it. NSU produced 37,374 of them at the Neckarsulm plant from 1967 to 1977. By the end, the Audi 100 was taking up a lot of the production capacity. 

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