NSU Ro 80 (995 cc twin-rotor Wankel engine): white sedan from 1974

NSU Ro 80 (995 cc twin-rotor Wankel engine): white sedan from 1974

The NSU Ro 80 is a four-door, front-engine executive sedan manufactured and marketed by the West German firm NSU from 1967 until 1977.

Noted for innovative, aerodynamic styling by Claus Luthe and a technologically advanced powertrain, the Ro 80 featured a 84 kW (113 bhp), 995 cc (60.7 cu in) twin-rotor Wankel engine driving the front wheels through a semi-automatic transmission with an innovative vacuum-operated clutch system.

Engine dimensions (Comotor units): length 412 mm (16.2 in); width 340 mm (13 in), height 340 mm (13 in), weight 101 kg (223 lb). Power 80 kW (107 hp) at 6,500 rpm; torque 137 N⋅m (101 lbf⋅ft) at 3,000 rpm (all figures approximate).

The Ro 80 was voted Car of the Year for 1968 and 37,398 units were manufactured over a ten-year production run, all in a single generation.

The styling, by Claus Luthe who was head of design at NSU and later BMW, was considered very modern at the time; the Ro 80 has been part of many gallery exhibits of modern industrial design. The large glass area foreshadowed the 1970s designs such as Citroën’s.

The shape was also slippery, with a drag coefficient of 0.355 (very low for the era). This allowed for a top speed of 180 km/h (112 mph). Indeed, comparisons have been drawn between the design of the Ro 80 and the aerodynamic 1982 Audi 100 built in the same factory some 15 years later.

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