Total Production: 37,398 1967 - 1977 The West German firm NSU built the four-door, front-engine Ro 80 sedan from 1967 until 1977. It wore styling by Claus Luthe who was also responsible for styling the Volkswagen K70 and several other models from Audi and BMW. He was a pioneer of aerodynamics and digital design for automobiles, as is evident on the Ro 80. The Ro 80 had a low drag coefficient of 0.355 which aide in achieving the vehicle's top speed of 112 mph.
Power was from an unconventional twin-rotor Wankel engine which drove the front wheels through a semi-automatic transmission utilizing a vacuum operated clutch system. There was no clutch pedal; gear changes were operated by touching the gear level knob which operated an internal electric switch that operated a vacuum system which disengaged the clutch. The gear level could then be moved to the desired gear.
Located at all four corners were ATE Dunlop disc brakes with the front being mounted inboard which reduced the unsprung weight. MacPherson struts were at the front with a semi-trailing arm setup at the rear.
During the decade long production lifespan, 37,398 examples were built. During that time, it remained largely unchanged. In September of 1969 air extractor vents were added to the C-pillar behind the doors, and the rectangular headlights were replaced with twin halogen units. It received a slightly reshaped plastic grill in August of 1970, replacing the prior metal grill. Several years later, in May of 1975, it received a minor facelift with enlarged rear lights and rubber inserts in the bumpers.
The early NSU Ro 80 were often plagued with reliability issues with many requiring an engine rebuilt prior to 50,000 kilometers. Construction faults were also noted during this time. Most of the issues had been resolved by 1970.
NSU was acquired by Volkswagen in 1969, and merged with Auto Union to create the Audi Company. By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2018