1969 NSU RO 80 – Today’s oddball Tempter

By: James Robinson, Unique Cars magazine

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1969 NSU RO 80 1969 NSU RO 80
1969 NSU RO 80 1969 NSU RO 80
1969 NSU RO 80 1969 NSU RO 80
1969 NSU RO 80 1969 NSU RO 80
1969 NSU RO 80 1969 NSU RO 80
1969 NSU RO 80 1969 NSU RO 80
1969 NSU RO 80 1969 NSU RO 80
1969 NSU RO 80 1969 NSU RO 80
1969 NSU RO 80 1969 NSU RO 80

A German rotary?! That is unique

Sell your car here for free!

If you’ve never heard of NSU you are not alone, and if you thought that rotary Wankel engines were exclusively utilised by Mazda, again, you are not alone. What’s that saying? You learn something new every day.

The NSU RO 80 is a German made four door sedan. The ROs 995cc, twin rotor motor produces 84kW and drives the front wheels through a three -speed Fichtel & Sachs all-synchro manual gearbox with a torque converter, linked to a vacuum-powered clutch.

To say the Ro was ahead of its time is a bit of an understatement, stylistically, aerodynamically and mechanically, the Ro was a decade ahead of its competitors.

The Ro featured ATE Dunlop disc brakes at all four corners, with the front brakes mounted in-board to reduce unsprung mass. It also had independent suspension with MacPherson struts at the front and a semi-trailing arm at the rear, and the Ro had power-assisted steering developed by ZF.

It was styled by one of the godfathers of aerodynamics and car design, Claus Luthe. You may have seen some of his other work, which included seminal models from BMW including the e30 3-series and e28 5-series. Luthe also oversaw the design of the e32 7-series and e34 5-series.

The West German Ro was released in 1967 to critical acclaim, and actually won the European Car of the Year award in 1968.

Unfortunately however, not everyone held the Ro in such regard as the Euro COTY judges, as it is also largely credited with bankrupting NSU in 1969.

Volkswagen bought the insolvent company at the end of ’69 and, as a result, they created Audi as we know it today by merging NSU with Auto Union.

This particular Ro is Australian delivered and is said to be in great condition with a rust-free body, which is a rarity with these models. All the mechanicals of the car have been rebuilt and the car apparently drives very well.

It’s listed for $12,500, which seems like a bit of a bargain considering the sheer amount of history behind this eccentric, German automobile. 

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