Thank the NSU Spider for Your Rotary Mazdas

By Colin Wood
Sep 16, 2020 | NSU, spider, rotary, Wankel

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 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

"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 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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