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If you were there at the Paris Motor Show in 1973 when Stile Bertone pulled the cover off of this NSU Trapeze concept then you likely would have noted the similarity between the car and the Lancia Stratos that had just gone into production one year earlier and was also designed by Bertone. Like the Stratos it shared an enormous wrap-around windscreen, small side windows and overall compact proportions. And though there are certainly similarities in the general shape, the NSU Trapeze was also decidedly different.
NSU, of course, is one of the defunct brands once operated by Auto Union. Not one of the brands represented in the audi four ring logo, NSU was a later addition that made everything from bicycles to automobiles. Before its acquisition by Auto Union, the company actually produced the first prototype of what would become the Volkswagen Beetle for Ferdinand Porsche. Likely its best known product by today’s market would be the original TT and TTS models of its Prinz – both naming inspirations for the Audis sold today by the same name. The brand was also known for its production of rotary-powered cars and that is just about where the NSU Trapeze comes into the picture.
Stile Bertone designed cars for many brands. The styling house had also designed the company’s rotary-powered Sport Prinz and Wankel Spider, and this association likely spurred the idea for this mid-mounted rotary engine concept. Another primarily difference between the Trapeze and the Stratos was that of seating, because though the Trapeze was mid-engined it was also a four-seater. The Trapeze name actually comes from the positions of those four seats, positioned in a trapezium formation. Front seats were close together and back seats were further apart, allowing for design around the mid-engine spacial challenges and also allowing for improved forward visibility and legroom for all passengers.
See more photos of the NSU Trapeze Concept in the photo gallery linked to this story.