Techno Classica 2017 flashback – When Audi brought NSU back from the afterlife
I always fancied Audi’s modern design language, but I have to confess, I always found the brand’s presence at classic car shows a bit out of place. Their futuristic design (including the rectangular 80s cars) makes them an unusual candidate for collectors, and the rise of the brand with most of its iconic models fall far out of oldtimer-eligible epochs.
Audi usually solves this contradiction by showcasing its motorsport history and breath-taking concepts.
As in the Audi Museum, the company also keeps the memories of the former Auto Union brands at the Techno Classica.
In 2017, they brought this to the max by completely handing over the Audi stage to the defunct NSU brand for its 60th anniversary to present five treasured NSU vehicles from Audi’ historical archives. The Essen Techno Classica is opening its gates to the public In a few weeks (see their website), so it is time to recall some of the favourite moments of past shows. For those who are new to this event, I recommend to read my views about why it is among my favourite automotive events.
For those unaware, the Swabian NSU brand was a highly innovative company that enjoyed a revival in the times of the West German economic recovery, so that by 1955, it became the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer. Following almost 30 years of absence from automobile production, NSU presented its first new model on four wheels at the Frankfurt motor show in 1957, that was biptised the NSU Prinz. At the Techno Classica 2017, AUDI’s historic division presented three small NSUs: a Prinz 30 base model, an NSU Sport Prinz and an NSU 1000 TTS.
The compact car was equipped with an air-cooled two-cylinder engine with 20 hp. Following initial success, the company developed two sporty versions – the NSU 1000 (1964) and NSU TT (1965), that achieved notable success in hillclimb races.
In 1967, NSU presented the most powerful version of the TT models: the NSU TTS. Its 996 cc rear-mounted engine peaked at 70 (tuned versions up to 85) hp, and the car reached a top speed of 165 km/h.
The stand also featured two NSU Ro 80s, one from 1969 and one from 1977. The NSU Ro 80 was a true phenomenon, powered by a twin-rotor Wankel engine.
The model was unveiled at the 1967 IAA in Frankfurt and received the Car of the Year award. It was a highly innovative car with a futuristic, wedge-shaped body line and a Wankel engine that proved to be the Achilles heel of the model, that was plagued by reliability issues. The Ro 80 remained in production for ten years, with 37,406 units sold. It was the largest and most avant-garde model ever produced by NSU, but it also proved to be the demise of the brand.