Thank the NSU Spider for Your Rotary Mazdas

Mazda may be best known as the purveyor of all things rotary, but it wasn't the first to mass-produce a Wankel-powered car. The 1964-'67 NSU Spider was powered by a 497cc single-rotor Wankel that was capable of about 50 horsepower.

NSU would eventually go on to become part of modern-day Audi, but you can read more about the Spider—one of the first mass-produced rotary-powered production cars—over on Classic Motorsports.

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1988RedT2
1988RedT2 MegaDork
9/16/20 1:37 p.m.

Great article.  Thanks!


Although to be fair, Mazda's efforts were well under way by the time the NSU Spider was introduced.

From an article at hemmings.com:

"For all its pioneering work, NSU was nearly beaten out of the gate by a company that had bought the rights to its design. In the summer of 1963, NSU heard that Mazda was planning to show its rotary-powered Cosmo at the Frankfurt Auto Show that fall. Alarmed, the German automaker fired off a letter asserting that the Japanese company had no contractual rights to display the new technology in Europe. In a frosty reply, Mazda said there must have been some misunderstanding, because it intended to launch the Cosmo at the Tokyo Motor Show one month later."

californiamilleghia
californiamilleghia SuperDork
9/16/20 1:45 p.m.

and then there is the Suzuki RE5 rotary motorcycle , 

did that motor ever get into a small Suzuki car or truck ?

I had one of those years ago and it was HEAVY !

and then the German made Hercules W-2000 which was made before the Suzuki.

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
9/16/20 3:09 p.m.

In reply to californiamilleghia :

I don't know how practical they were, but rotary-powered motorcycles sound like fun.

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