Only very few cars are as shrouded in stories, legends and half-truths as the NSU Ro 80. We shall attempt to put some of these stories into their true light.
An important historical fact about the Ro 80 is that there was no predecessor and no successor. This enabled the designers to free themselves from any traditions or conventions. The initial idea for the car was for NSU to use the carrier vehicle as a demonstration to the Wankel license-holders that rotary engines were suitable for the larger vehicle category. The designers were told, therefore, to create a ‘type 80’, based on the magic number 8: costing 8000 DM, weighing 800 kg and with a consumption of 8l/100 km.
Unfortunately, they weren’t quite successful and the actual measurements ended up closer to approx.1300 kg weight, a cost of 14,500 DM and a slightly higher consumption, but the development time was significantly shorter than the norm then and now, and the number of designers was a lot lower.
The design was very advanced, as a whole and in many details, which enabled the model to be produced for almost 10 years without significant changes to the design.
The construction was very robust, this and the necessary complicated tools caused the manufacturing to be very
expensive, which explained the high price. Over 10 years of production only about 37,400 vehicles were made,
which meant that large changes to NSU (or Audi NSU) weren’t worthwhile as the production figures of certain
components would have sunk even lower.
This is an advantage for to-days buyers as most of the individual parts of the different years of design are compatible, especially the bodywork. A Ro 80 is repairable with spare parts of almost every other Ro 80.
The Ro 80 can be considered a trendsetter in the 60s/70s; the wedge shape, created by designer Claus Luthe, which set the trend in Audi body construction for over 20 years, was practically anticipated by the Ro 80 creators. Glass surfaces like those of the Ro 80, which offer an excellent all-round view, have since been removed from production due to tighter (overly tight?) safety measures. The Ro 80 wheel suspension and brake technology is significantly more modern than that of many other cars from the same era, and the Wankel engine is still convincing with its vibrationless running and typical sound. Many owners are constantly impressed by the automotive refinement the Ro 80 has to offer.
The bodywork designed by Claus Luthe, an aerodynamic masterpiece with the brilliant cw-index of 0,35, is concieved as a monocoque design. Seats with a well-designed contour and the long wheelbase are a guarantee for relaxed driving. (here you can see a videoclip about one of our members and his Ro 80: http://spiekermann.com/ro80/ in which the dsign is well presented).
Pleasure in driving is also supported by the large window area, resulting in a good panoramic view, and the power assisted steering.