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VW's early watercooled history via Audi and NSU (was Re: [T3] SB with IV engine--was Wasser engine)

<x-flowed>Dave Hall wrote:

I thought Audi and NSU were linked before VW bought them.
We camped in Neckarsulm some years ago on the way to Stuttgart from Wolfsburg -
went on a drive past the NSU-Audi factory.
From a website:-
"The four rings of the Audi badge symbolise the brands Audi, DKW, Horch and
Wanderer, which were later combined under the umbrella of Auto Union. Auto Union
and NSU merged in 1969".
There are examples of all these makes in the VW Museums in Wolfsburg.

The first watercooled "VW" was the NSU-designed K-70, first produced in 1971;
the NSU Ro-80 rotary engined preceded it.
The Audi 50 was the basis for the Mk 1 VW Polo, and I'm fairly sure the Audi
60(?) became the Golf.  The Audi 80 and Passat shared many similarities too.


That one is actually an NSU design! Piston version of the much more attractive
and futuristically-styled

It was the Ro-80 that killed NSU as an independent entity. It was a phenomenal car as I understand, but it's rotary engine was a durability nightmare. Like many early rotary engines (Mazda, too, was not immune in their early Rx series) it suffered badly from rotor tip wear. NSU's rotaries often needed complete overhauls by 30,000 miles, and honoring the warranty claims bankrupted them. Still, they had great technologies otherwise, particularly in the fields of transaxle design and unibody construction.

Audi was bought by VW in '64-'65 from Daimler-Benz, and NSU was bought by VW in '69. Audi and NSU were joined together as a single subsidiary around that time- in fact, the NSU name persisted officially in Audi's corporate identification until about '85.

It would not surprise me if VW bought Audi for their industrial capacity (they bought Audi shortly after Audi had built the factory in Ingolstadt) and NSU for their technology and engineering (since they had to have seen the writing on the wall in the late '60s that they had gone as far as they were going to with aircooleds and semi-unibody construction vis-a-vis emissions and safety, respectively). I'll betcha that the Type 4 borrowed heavily from Audi construction ideas married to VW's existing powertrain technologies, and that the next leap was to get engineering expertise to marry watercooling and FWD transaxles to unibody construction.

This is pure speculation on my part based on what I know about the product lines of the 3 players involved and what I know about the history.

That the Golf and Passat were really Audis by way of NSU would come as no surprise to me. I mean, the styling on the K-70 (or Ro-80) isn't that far away from the Passat/Dasher/Fox, right? I see a family resemblance. I'm sure the Europeans on this list have much better info than I on this early history and can chime in.

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