From the Wankel Spider to the Audi 50.
1963 - Sensation at the 1963 Frankfurt Motor Show
The open-top two-seater on the NSU stand at the 1963 Frankfurt Motor Show was a sensation. Known as the Wankel Spider, this small car had a single-rotor rotary piston engine at the rear. NSU had been working together with Felix Wankel on a new engine concept since the beginning of the 1950s; instead of a reciprocating piston, a rotor compressed the fuel/air mixture (rotary piston engine).
1964 - Radical Change
Once again at the instigation of leading industrialist Friedrich Karl Flick, Volkswagenwerk AG acquired the majority of shares in Auto Union GmbH in December 1964 (effective January 1, 1965). The Ingolstadt-based company became a fully owned VW subsidiary at the end of 1966.
1965 - The Name Audi is Reborn
All work on the two-stroke engine came to an end when Auto Union became part of the Volkswagen Group. A four-cylinder four-stroke engine developed previously under Daimler-Benz - known as the "medium-pressure" engine - was installed in the last DKW model F 102 and presented as an Audi in the summer of 1965.
1967 - Wankel Engine and Modern Body
In September 1967, NSU presented a completely new model in the upper mid-size category, the NSU Ro 80. Its outstanding feature was a 115 bhp twin-rotor rotary piston engine. The car's modern body design was ahead of its time and featured styling elements that only became the norm several years later. The NSU caused a major sensation, but was unable to help the Wankel principle make the breakthrough hoped for.
1968 - Audi Ventures into the Upper Mid-size Class
On November 26, 1968, Auto Union invited dealers and the press to attend the presentation of the newly designed Audi 100 at the Ingolstadt City Theatre. This model, developed by chief engineer Dr. Ludwig Kraus, took Audi into the competitive market segment of the upper mid-size class for the first time. The Audi 100 quickly became a bestseller and formed the basis for a new Audi model series that ensured the future independence of the Audi brand.
1969 - Audi Enters the U.S. Market
Establishment of Audi NSU Auto Union. NSU's Wankel rotary piston engine, a world first, is a prime motivator in the union. Audi enters the U.S. market.
1972 - A New Mid-size Vehicle
In the summer of 1972, Audi chief designer Ludwig Kraus presented the Audi 80, a continuation of the model policy started with the Audi 100. This car used a four-cylinder OHC engine - later also adopted by the Volkswagen Group, ultimately becoming the engine with the highest production volume at VW. The Audi 80 was a smash hit - over a million models were built and sold within six years.
1974 - Answer to the Energy Crisis
September 1974 saw the launch of the Audi 50, the smallest car in the Audi model range and Audi's answer to the energy crisis of the early 1970s. Since this was planned as a high-volume model from the outset, the small Audi was built at VW in Wolfsburg. Six months after the appearance of the Audi 50, this model was also launched on the market as the VW Polo.