The Big Merge – NSU Wankel Spider to Audi 50

Here is a short story about how the Audi 50 came about and got the company recognised as the successful brand it is today.

The NSU Wankel Spider was an automobile manufactured by NSW Motorenwekre AG from 1963 to 1967.

The open-top-two-seater was a huge sensation at the 1963 Frankfurt Motor Show.

NSU wankel spider

This vehicle was easily distinguishable with its hardtop and grill at the front.

All NSU cars at the time were rear engine mounted in order to improve weight distribution.

However, NSU ended up building a poor reputation for being unreliable motor vehicles. This was due to frequent rebuilding and replacing of engines.

Overall this cost destroyed the financial viability if NSU, forcing a merger with Audi in 1969.

This all began in 1965 when the Audi name was reborn. Once owned and manufactured by Auto Union GmbH, in 1964, Volkswagen acquired the majority of the shares, then by 1966 it became a fully owned VW subsidiary.

Audi emerged as a separate brand for the first time since the pre-war era. Volkswagen introduced Audi to the United States for the 1970 model.

Two years later the 1972 Audi 50 was introduced in September, which led to a massive success as a world car.

The Audi 50 incarnated the VW golf/polo, as the smallest car of the Audi model range.

It was the answer to the global energy crisis in the early 1970s. This small Audi was built in the VW factory in Wolfsburg.

The Audi 50 had no replacement after being discontinued in 1978 after a total production of 180,812 units. A facelift was once planned but never commences once the company decided to focus on developing larger, luxury, more expensive cars.

In 2010, the Audi 50 was spiritually redeveloped in a mini luxury car now known as Audi A1.