Why tech freaks hate HR people

Oerlenbacher lends Tukur the car: Ro 80 for the crime scene

It is a piece of automotive history, the NSU Ro 80 from Neckarsulm: upper middle class sedan with rotary engine and trend-setting wedge-shape design. The design came onto the market for the first time in 1967 - and immediately became Car of the Year.

As a milestone in design and technology, the Ro 80 has fans to this day. One of them is Jürgen Mohr: The motor vehicle foreman from Oerlenbach in the Bad Kissingen district swears by the NSU Ro 80. The admirer of the Wankel engine has just got six four-door vehicles in the yard of his workshop, four of which he is preparing for sale. The 49-year-old has been driving a Ro 80 himself for a long time.

With the Ro 80 to the film set in Frankfurt

And with a second copy, the master mechanic recently drove to Frankfurt to film for the Hessian crime scene - to let investigator Felix Murot, played by Ulrich Tukur, take the wheel. How the metallic-blue Ro 80 from Oerlenbach looks in front of the camera, the audience is expected to see in autumn 2018.

“Exciting!” Says Mohr about the crime thriller use of his car and the work on the set. He enjoyed how the Ro 80 is staged. His cult car is, so to speak, a second car in production to shorten the distances between the filming locations.

The television people came across the Oerlenbach car via the Ro 80 Club International, which has 700 members. Things are a little more familiar at the Ro 80 Stammtisch Franken: around 20 vehicle owners from all over Northern Bavaria meet there regularly for trips together. Most of them are technology freaks over the age of 60, says Mohr, who somehow grew up with cars. Many used to drive a Ro 80 themselves and got stuck with it.

A soft spot for the Wankel

Mohr is one of the younger members, when the first Ro 80 hit the streets 50 years ago, it wasn't even born. He discovered his passion for the model with the rotary engine at an early age. In a sense, it was on the way: On the way from his home village of Dittlofsroda to the train station in Gemünden, Mohr passed a Ford workshop that had many such cars in the yard.

Ford engines were installed there for the NSU in order to drive out a few drive-related bad habits from the cars. Third-party motorization is still a horror for real fans today: “They are frowned upon in the club,” says Mohr with a smile.

A vocational school teacher promoted Mohr's weakness for the Wankel. “He showed us a lawnmower with a rotary piston. I thought it would turn it up until it explodes, ”enthuses Mohr about the smooth run. Mohr also appreciates the smooth power delivery of his two cars. "At 180 kilometers an hour on the autobahn, many are amazed."

The supply of spare parts is assured, albeit from private production. NSU successor Audi is noticeably holding back. The Ro 80 is probably not so recognized as an image carrier there. Although, says Mohr, the engines have become much more reliable thanks to the ingenuity of the collectors. "150,000 kilometers are not a problem," assures Mohr. The sealing strips, which were once prone to wear, are now often replaced by ceramic strips. A consumption of twelve liters is possible by optimizing the engine. Restored vehicles suitable for everyday use are available for around 20,000 euros.

Rare model with rotary engine as standard

The heart of the car is the twin-disc rotary engine. The two rotating pistons give the engine 115 HP with turbine-like running with gentle power development and exemplary smoothness. In addition, the car from Neckarsulm comes up with details that were not taken for granted 50 years ago: four doors as standard, disc brakes at the front and rear, power steering.

The groundbreaking aerodynamics of the body should compensate for the increased consumption of the rotary engine. But there were other problems too. The great market success failed to materialize, especially since NSU, Audi and VW were busy trying to find a common identity in a difficult car market in the early 1970s. And the Ro 80's teething troubles were just over when the oil crisis hit. The skyrocketing oil price did not exactly serve as a sales argument with a consumption of up to 17 liters of gasoline per 100 and 1.3 liters of oil per 1000 kilometers.

It ended 40 years ago

Production was stopped in 1977. The manufacturer dropped the Wankel principle in 1979 after it was considered to be used in the Audi 100. The car was never economically mass-produced: a total of 37,374 Ro 80s were produced. Some of them have now seen Jürgen Mohr's workshop: “The cars are not that rare.” Some of them are first-time owners on the market. Mohr assumes there are 2,000 existing cars worldwide. "Of course there is an unreported number."

Mohr is often on the road to meetings across Europe with his Ro 80. Two dates are particularly close to his heart: At Solitude Castle, club members want to recreate the representative arrangement in the park at the end of September with which the manufacturer presented the Ro 80 to the public 50 years ago. And then of course the broadcast of the Hessen crime scene in the coming year. In addition, he has the prospect of an invitation to a preview. Broadcast date: still open.

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