Friday, April 1, 2011

Rotary Resto Needed: 1967 NSU Wankel Spider

This rare Wankel powered NSU popped up on Ebay in Central Wisconsin with an opening bid of $3000. The car is not running and has at least one rust spot, but otherwise seems fairly well preserved. Missing door panels are probably easily fabricated, and all the hard-to-find trim seems intact. A nice bonus is the factory removable hardtop included with the sale.

These NSUs were the world's first production rotary-engined car. Production estimates vary, but are anywhere from 3000-5000 units were made between 1964-1967.  As you might expect, it didn't work out very well. Apex seals and other engine problems quickly developed and few survive today. The experiment was not completely a failure; NSU's patents survive today under license by Mazda and the produced the wonderful rotary-powered RX-7 Series.

Styled by Bertone, these Spiders were available in either white or red and offered surprisingly brisk performance. In period a few were campaigned for rallyes and hillclimbs. Here is a video of another single rotor Wankel Spyder to give you an idea of the sounds and feel of this unique powerplant:

Like most automotive pioneers, NSU survives in name only today. The company was consolidated in the late 1960's with the company that would become Audi. Here is a chance to own a very neat piece of unique automotive history..and a chance to learn how to rebuild a rotary motor!

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