The permanent exhibition is the heart of the museum mobile. From entrance level 0, the lift as a "time machine" takes you back to 1899 on level 3, where the tour begins. The two levels for the permanent exhibition, 1899 to 1945 and 1946 to 2000 are each divided into seven sections. Each section has an overview of the single epoch. Text and images address the relationship between automobiles, technology, and society.
The exhibits are the highlights of the permanent exhibition. More than 100 cars and motorcycles illustrate the history of the company. Regularly changing automotive treasures are presented on a Paternoster which moves constantly through all levels of the building. Great events of the history of the four rings, such as the merger to form the Auto Union in 1932, are explained in multimedia productions and make you an eyewitness to history. The art gallery with interactive hands-on exhibits additionally give an overview of the most significant milestones in the development of the automobile.
An exciting piece of technological history is on-show in the Audi museum mobile in Ingolstadt as part of the new special exhibit entitled "Revolution – 60 years of the NSU/Wankel engine". The special occasion is the 60th anniversary of this once revolutionary rotary engine concept. Audi's predecessor brand NSU took on the new technology at an early stage in vehicles like the "Prinz 3" prototype. The exhibition runs from May 20 to November 5, 2017 and shows this and further models featuring the Wankel engine. What's more, boat, airplane and motorcycle engines, as well as those used in lawnmowers and power saws of various manufacturers also demonstrate the eventful history of this progressive technology.
"Rotating instead of punching" – this idea for an internal combustion engine with rotating pistons fascinated Felix Wankel from the late 1920s. The development of the concept to readiness for series production took more than 30 years. As part of his research work, self-taught Wankel became an expert in seals, but kept his aim of creating a machine with rotating pistons firmly in sight. At the end of 1953, the methodical analysis of possible rotors and housing combinations led Wankel to look more closely at the idea of a rotating oval-shaped piston in an almost circular housing which also rotated. The principle awakened the interest of NSU's management. In March 1954, Wankel drafted the basic form of the engine which was to be named after him at a later stage. Three years later, on February 1, 1957, the engine ran for the first time under its own power on a test rig at the NSU plant.
In Neckarsulm, Dr Walter Froede, Head of NSU's Development department, and his team simplified the technologically complex structure which initially used two components which rotated one inside the other. The first time the KKM (Kreiskolbenmotor) version of the engine with inverted kinematics was used was in 1962, when it was fitted in the so-called "Ski-Craft". This towing device for water skis is on show in the Audi museum mobile. Just one year later, in September 1963, the NSU/Wankel Spider celebrated its premiere at the IAA in Frankfurt. As the world's first series-produced vehicle featuring the NSU/Wankel engine, it spurred on the euphoria surrounding the Wankel engine. In the following years, virtually all of the notable manufacturers of automobiles, motorcycles or engines became part of the large group of NSU/Wankel licensees.
Visitors to the "Revolution – 60 years of the NSU/Wankel engine" exhibition can expect to see not just the NSU/Wankel Spider but also further exhibits like the first NSU "Prinz 3" Wankel prototype from 1959 and the NSU Ro 80. In 1967 this model with its innovative technology and timeless design was awarded the title of Car of the Year. Two Audi models are also exhibited: the Audi 200 KKM prototype from 1979 and an Audi A1 e-tron from 2012. A true looker, the Italdesign Namir sports car from 2009 will also be present. Further highlights include the Mazda Cosmo 110S, a Citroën M35 as well as the Malibu Virage racing car.
The Wankel engine wasn't just used in cars, it was also used in snowmobiles, fire engines, power saws, motorboats and motorcycles. The exhibition shows a whole host of these products, as well as free-standing engines and cutaway models.