The story

Rotary engine inventor Felix Wankel born

Rotary engine inventor Felix Wankel born



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The German engineer Felix Wankel, inventor of a rotary engine that will be used in race cars, is born on August 13, 1902, in Lahr, Germany.

Wankel reportedly came up with the basic idea for a new type of internal combustion gasoline engine when he was only 17 years old. In 1924, Wankel set up a small laboratory where he began the research and development of his dream engine, which would be able to attain intake, compression, combustion and exhaust, all while rotating. He brought his knowledge of rotary valves to his work with the German Aeronautical Research Establishment during World War II, and to a leading German motorcycle company, NSU Motorenwerk AG, beginning in 1951. Wankel completed his first design of a rotary-piston engine in 1954, and the first unit was tested in 1957.

In other internal-combustion engines, moving pistons did the work of getting the combustion process started; in the Wankel rotary engine, an orbiting rotor in the shape of a curved equilateral triangle served this purpose. Fewer moving parts created a smoothly performing engine that was lightweight, compact, low-cost and required fewer repairs. After NSU officially announced the completion of the Wankel rotary engine in late 1959, some 100 companies around the world rushed to propose partnerships that would get the engine inside their products. Mazda, the Japanese automaker, signed a formal contract with NSU in July 1961, after receiving approval from the Japanese government.

In an attempt to experiment with the rotary engine and perfect it for use in its vehicles, Mazda formed an RE (Rotary Engine) Research Department in 1963. The Cosmo Sport, which Mazda released in May 1967, was the planet’s first dual-rotor rotary engine car. With futuristic styling and superior performance, the Cosmo wowed car enthusiasts worldwide. Mazda began installing rotary engines in its sedans and coupes in 1968, and the vehicles hit the U.S. market in 1971. In the wake of a global oil crisis in 1973-74, Mazda continually worked on improving its rotary engines to improve fuel efficiency, and by the end of that decade its sports cars had become popular in both Europe and the United States In addition to Mazda, a number of other companies licensed the Wankel engine during the 1960s and 1970s, including Daimler-Benz, Alfa Romeo, Rolls Royce, Porsche, General Motors, Suzuki and Toyota.

Meanwhile, Wankel continued his own work with the rotary piston engine, forming his own research establishment in Lindau, Germany, in the mid-1970s. In 1986, he sold the institute for 100 million Deutschmarks (around $41 million) to Daimler Benz, maker of the Mercedes. Wankel filed a new patent as late as 1987; the following year, he died after a long illness.


Wankel engine

The Wankel engine is a type of internal combustion engine using an eccentric rotary design to convert pressure into rotating motion.

Compared to the reciprocating piston engine, the Wankel engine has more uniform torque and less vibration and, for a given power, is more compact and weighs less.

The rotor, which creates the turning motion, is similar in shape to a Reuleaux triangle, except the sides have less curvature. Wankel engines deliver three power pulses per revolution of the rotor using the Otto cycle. However, the output shaft uses toothed gearing to turn three times faster giving one power pulse per revolution. This can be seen in the animation below. In one revolution, the rotor experiences power pulses and exhausts gas simultaneously, while the four stages of the Otto cycle occur at separate times. For comparison, in a two-stroke piston engine there is one power pulse for each crankshaft revolution (as with a Wankel engine output shaft) and, in a four-stroke piston engine, one power pulse for every two revolutions.

The four-stage Otto cycle of intake, compression, ignition, and exhaust occurs each revolution of the rotor at each of the three rotor faces moving inside the oval-like epitrochoidal housing, enabling the three power pulses per rotor revolution.

The definition of displacement applies to only one face of the rotor as only one face is working for each output shaft revolution.

The engine is commonly referred to as a rotary engine, although this name is also applied to other completely different designs, including both ones with pistons and pistonless rotary engines.


Dr Felix Wankel - A brief history of the Inventor and Engineer

Dr Felix Wankel (13 August 1902 - 9 October 1988)

Thinking on tangents rather than laterally he has been called legendary, brilliant, a master engineer and even egotistical, amateurish, eccentric, fanatical and futile. The word that will always be Felix Wankel to me is "genius". He was, to this day, one of the few engineering minds of the modern era who did not believe the more conventional, but infinitely more complex, reciprocating engine was the ultimate answer. He believed it could be done better and more easily and spent most of his life on a project that would eventually realise this belief. Hence begins the story of the Wankel Rotary Engine. A story that, thanks to Felix, can now be told with a happy ending.

The promising thing is, the story does not really end there and even today, thousands of people all over the world are still working hard at developing and refining this revolutionary engine.

From the enthusiast in his garage, busily porting his next set of housings to the big budget race teams developing new hard wearing materials for use in high performance race engines. The world of Rotary engines just gets bigger every day and with large multinationals like Mazda still pouring millions into Rotary research and development, our favourite engine looks to be alive and well heading into the next millennium.

Felix Wankel was born an only son to Rudolf and Martha Wankel on 13 August 1902 in Lahr, a small town in the Swabia district, South Western Germany near the Swiss border. It is this area of Germany where Wankel would live out almost his entire life. The inhabitants of this particular area, although jokingly known to be stupid, somewhat crude people, have in reality produced some of engineering's finest minds when it comes to twentieth century engine design. Not far from Wankel's village is the town of Stuttgart, home to names like Daimler, Otto and Benz, known for their refinement of the conventional reciprocating engine and of course the revolutionary diesel engine.

At age twelve, Wankel was left fatherless in the first months of the Great War. Money his fathers estate had left the family was all but wiped out by skyrocketing inflation during the 1920s, basically preventing an already less than keen Wankel from attending either a technical type secondary school or seeking an apprenticeship in an engineering field. Personally Wankel felt that school was a bit of a bore. From 1921 to 1924 Wankel was employed at the University book shop in Heildelberg, dealing mainly in scientific publications. Suffering a kidney complaint during his time there, he was transferred from the printing room away from the lead type, and was positioned in the storeroom where he quickly devised a new and more efficient way to stack books very high without risk of the pile falling. He did this by arranging the books in an unconventional fashion to maximise the stability of the stack. Such was the fertility of his mind that he would constantly see a better way to do things in all aspects of life. Of course this position supplied him with almost limitless amounts of research material to pour over and it was at this time he was also attending night school and completing a correspondence course, building the knowledge base that we know today resulted in the Rotary engine design. He would, later be awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Technical University of Munich, recognising his contributions to engineering science in 1969. In 1924, he began his work on the Rotary engine while still in the employ of the university book shop. This work, though on and off in nature, would last him most of his productive life and he would be employed by many various people over time seeking to tap into the genius of his mind that must have been obvious to any observer.

Wankel was known for his unusual, some would say, undisciplined attitude toward seeing an idea through to it's ultimate, refined form. Opting rather to abandon his research and quickly move on to his next project with almost boyish enthusiasm as soon as a previous idea had reached a stage of successful operation, meeting with his personally strict testing doctrine. To the bewilderment, and sometimes, annoyance of his colleagues Wankel would often behave indifferently to the pleas and enquiries from those still engaged in refining what he had long considered past projects, far to distracted by his latest ideas to backtrack. My analogy is that Wanklel would be happy to build the finest of houses but leave the gardens and landscaping to someone else as he is off, busy improving on his designs elsewhere.felix

During the WW2 years, at times for Hitler's own war effort, Wankel was involved in the development of a rotary disc type valve for use in aircraft and torpedo engines. The Rotary engine project was somewhat shelved during this time. Later, Wankel was employed by, collaborated with and advised many different organisations over the years including BMW, Daimler-Benz, DVL, Junker Aircraft and NSU. It was during this time, working professionally on various projects for others, that he also privately continued working on his own many ideas such as designs for compressors and pumps, but more importantly the embryonic sketches for what was to become the first of the DKM (Drehkolbenmotor - or Rotary Piston Motor) engines. Early in 1957, this DKM engine would run for the first time, however it would be some months of hard work before a successful 2 hour test could be completed, eventually turning in a peak of a little over 20 horsepower. His later design, the KKM (Krieskolbenmotor - Translation please??) engine would first run in July 1958.

Wankel lived out his later years quietly, still turning in long hours of research and testing in his private facility, the Institute, at his home in Swabia and as always maintained his reclusive nature. Up until the early seventies he had always been satisfied with an old Borgward saloon as his car when he was given a Rotary engined NSU Ro80. He died on 9 October 1988 in Lindau, West Germany.

Wankel's extensive working life and various affiliations with different people are too complex and far reaching to present here in any great detail and will be the subject of a future essay.


Stop The Wankel Engine

First, some history. The engine was developed by German engineer Felix Wankel in 1957. It was first used in 1964 in the NSU Spider then in the Ro80 luxury sedan. There were many touted advantages. Compared to a piston engine, it was lighter, more compact, and had fewer moving parts.

Then there's the company most famous for rotary power, Mazda. By 1972, the company was selling one in every single one of their models, even pickup trucks! For 40 years afterwards, the company continued selling rotary engines in select models, most notably the RX-7 and RX-8 sports cars.

Then problems began to pile up. It turned out that the rotary engine was not very fuel efficient due to its inherent design lowering the compression ratio. With the 1974 oil crisis, this was a big problem. It also belched out smog. As the 1975 US emissions standards loomed, this was another big problem. The problem of apex seal wear was the final nail in the coffin.

It soon became apparant that the rotary engine was useless. And the fallout from this was enormous. When GM pulled the plug on their rotary engine, AMC found itself without a motor for their new subcompact. They had to shoehorn in a giant 3.8 Liter 6 cylinder engine, which made the car 200 pounds heavier. GM could easily afford mistakes like this, but smaller companies that tried their hand were in deep trouble.
-At NSU, the Ro80, which was an amazing car with front wheel drive and a very aerodynamic body that should've been a hit, turned into a flop and the company had to sell to VW in 1972.
-Citroen, hamstrung by the Comotor cancellation as well as other problems, was forced into bankruptcy in 1974 and had to be bought by Peugeot.
-Mazda also was forced on the brink. The company ran a huge loss in 1975 and had to be bailed out by Sumitomo bank.

Perhaps the worst fallout of this are the super annoying group of people who claim that the rotary is the greatest thing since sliced bread and go crazy when Mazda teased that they'll launch a new rotary model.

So that's the rotary engine, a useless doorstop that ruined at least 4 different automakers. The world would be a better place if the Wankel engine had never seen the light of day.

BTW Felix Wankel was a fervent Nazi, not that it matters, just saying.

Kernals12

Whiteshore

Riggerrob

Kernals12

Kernals12

Md139115

I’m sorry, but I completely disagree. Just because the rotary engine is problematic at present does not mean that in a few years time some of the issues with seals may be solved. If I recall, Mazda is now taking a second look at it just because theoretically it is a more efficient engine design. And this does not even get into the whole issue of the value of a failed invention. You seem to assume that the value is insignificant, in this case negative because of those car companies supposedly killed by it. Nothing could be further from the truth. For all we know, the experimentation with rotary engines could create or have created a group of mechanical engineers unafraid to think outside the box. Research into better ways to seal it might wind up improving all engines. And perhaps most importantly, all those companies dared to dream of a cleaner future because of the promised benefits of a rotary engine (and I’m speculating here, but what if NSU only made their car so aerodynamic just to squeeze as much benefit out of advertising the lower fuel costs as possible? In that case, the rotary engine has played a huge positive role).

“We have invented an engine that has a maximum potential efficiency of 45%. Though well over half the energy turns to heat and goes right out the hood [or bonnet, as the Brits call it] and tailpipe, it is still the best design possible and we shouldn’t try to build a better one.”

Please let me know if I’m not summarizing your argument properly.

Kernals12

I’m sorry, but I completely disagree. Just because the rotary engine is problematic at present does not mean that in a few years time some of the issues with seals may be solved. If I recall, Mazda is now taking a second look at it just because theoretically it is a more efficient engine design. And this does not even get into the whole issue of the value of a failed invention. You seem to assume that the value is insignificant, in this case negative because of those car companies supposedly killed by it. Nothing could be further from the truth. For all we know, the experimentation with rotary engines could create or have created a group of mechanical engineers unafraid to think outside the box. Research into better ways to seal it might wind up improving all engines. And perhaps most importantly, all those companies dared to dream of a cleaner future because of the promised benefits of a rotary engine (and I’m speculating here, but what if NSU only made their car so aerodynamic just to squeeze as much benefit out of advertising the lower fuel costs as possible? In that case, the rotary engine has played a huge positive role).

“We have invented an engine that has a maximum potential efficiency of 45%. Though well over half the energy turns to heat and goes right out the hood [or bonnet, as the Brits call it] and tailpipe, it is still the best design possible and we shouldn’t try to build a better one.”

Please let me know if I’m not summarizing your argument properly.

Just because Lucy didn't let Charlie Brown kick the football once doesn't mean she won't let him kick it again.

And we do have a better engine, it's called the electric motor.

Marathag

I think it was more the Cocaine, that his predictions.

Oh, and choosing a gutless Peugeot engine for a sportscar

Md139115

Why on God’s green earth should people not do research into an alternative design for the internal combustion engine? The present form only does so much, but a more advanced version would be able to use all the existing infrastructure and take over immediately, helping the whole world immensely. So we can’t look at it again since it failed once? Why?

And for that matter, what authority do you possess on this issue? Are you an engineer? Are you a research scientist? A prophet? What gives you the ability to say “this is a dead end” and sound credible?

Kernals12

I think it was more the Cocaine, that his predictions.

Oh, and choosing a gutless Peugeot engine for a sportscar

Kernals12

Why on God’s green earth should people not do research into an alternative design for the internal combustion engine? The present form only does so much, but a more advanced version would be able to use all the existing infrastructure and take over immediately, helping the whole world immensely. So we can’t look at it again since it failed once? Why?

And for that matter, what authority do you possess on this issue? Are you an engineer? Are you a research scientist? A prophet? What gives you the ability to say “this is a dead end” and sound credible?

Longsword14

Kernals12

Fscott

This contraption is the Wankel Rotary Engine. It works very differently from a normal piston engine as shown below

First, some history. The engine was developed by German engineer Felix Wankel in 1957. It was first used in 1964 in the NSU Spider then in the Ro80 luxury sedan. There were many touted advantages. Compared to a piston engine, it was lighter, more compact, and had fewer moving parts.

Then there's the company most famous for rotary power, Mazda. By 1972, the company was selling one in every single one of their models, even pickup trucks! For 40 years afterwards, the company continued selling rotary engines in select models, most notably the RX-7 and RX-8 sports cars.

Then problems began to pile up. It turned out that the rotary engine was not very fuel efficient due to its inherent design lowering the compression ratio. With the 1974 oil crisis, this was a big problem. It also belched out smog. As the 1975 US emissions standards loomed, this was another big problem. The problem of apex seal wear was the final nail in the coffin.

It soon became apparant that the rotary engine was useless. And the fallout from this was enormous. When GM pulled the plug on their rotary engine, AMC found itself without a motor for their new subcompact. They had to shoehorn in a giant 3.8 Liter 6 cylinder engine, which made the car 200 pounds heavier. GM could easily afford mistakes like this, but smaller companies that tried their hand were in deep trouble.
-At NSU, the Ro80, which was an amazing car with front wheel drive and a very aerodynamic body that should've been a hit, turned into a flop and the company had to sell to VW in 1972.
-Citroen, hamstrung by the Comotor cancellation as well as other problems, was forced into bankruptcy in 1974 and had to be bought by Peugeot.
-Mazda also was forced on the brink. The company ran a huge loss in 1975 and had to be bailed out by Sumitomo bank.

Perhaps the worst fallout of this are the super annoying group of people who claim that the rotary is the greatest thing since sliced bread and go crazy when Mazda teased that they'll launch a new rotary model.

So that's the rotary engine, a useless doorstop that ruined at least 4 different automakers. The world would be a better place if the Wankel engine had never seen the light of day.


Chapter 3 – The First Ever Rotary Powered Car

NSU, a German motorbike company took the designs from Felix and with his help in 1951, started preparation to successfully put one in a car.

The first engine was called the DKM motor. It could reach high revolutions per minute and both the rotor and housing spun on separate axis. It even produced 21 horsepower. But, for a simple spark plug change, the whole thing would need stripping. This obviously wasn’t a viable option, so a second was built. The KKM.

It was simpler, only the rotor spun, but with Felix now not involved with the production to the point he didn’t even know about it until later on, he wasn’t so happy. He complained that they had turned his race horse into a plow mare.

1960 came and everyone wanted a slice of the pie. NSU was to put their efforts into lower-powered rotary cars, Curtiss-Wright, an american firm was to use them in aviation, and automakers like Alfa Romeo and Ford, to Porsche and Rolls-Royce wanted in. And, of course, Mazda.

Eventually in the late 60s, Rolls produced a diesel version, and Citroen placed one in their M35, GS Birotor, and even their RE-2 helicopter. Mercedes-Benz, didn’t expect that name did you? They put it in their C111 concept car. There was even the hint of a rotary corvette concept from GM.

But before this, in 1964, NSU paved the way with the first ever rotary car on the road, the NSU Spider. It was listed for only 4200 euros and looked spectacular. The engine was in the back for better weight distribution, and because it was so small, you could still use the boot as well as the front boot for storage. Eat your heart out Tesla.

The first was raffled straight off the assembly line to an employee. But soon the commotion dropped. They expected to sell 5000 units a year, but in its three years of production they hardly managed half of that. But why was that? It could rev to over 6000rpm, it was smooth and provided better performance than piston engines of that era, and it was fast. 50hp fast. Well, it was those pesky apex seals.

The car very quickly became known for its unreliability, and this hit sales hard. That hasn’t stopped it from being a collection-worthy car though. These days, one in good nick will set you back around 30 to 40 thousand pounds. Unfortunately for NSU, the repairs to all the cars that went wrong set them back terribly, as well.


Felix Wankel, father of the rotary engine, is born

Felix Wankel, a German engineer who invented the rotary engine, is born on Aug. 13, 1902, in Lahr, Germany. Wankel became fascinated with internal combustion engines at an early age and began developing a rotary engine concept as early as 1924.

With a gift for mathematics and technical drawing, he dreamed of developing a new type of engine that would combine the best features of piston engines and turbines.

In standard internal-combustion engines, moving pistons started and managed the combustion process. In Wankel's rotary engine, an orbiting rotor in the shape of a curved equilateral triangle handled combustion. It is designed to generate more power in less space than conventional engines.

Wankel received his first patent for a pistonless internal combustion engine in 1929.

It proved to be one of many engine developments ahead of its time.

NSU Motorenwerke AG, a German automaker eventually purchased by Volkswagen Group and merged into what became Audi, began work on a rotary engine in 1951. Wankel had signed a consulting agreement with NSU and designed the company's first working prototype the DKM 54.

The DKM was first operated in February 1957.

The first design had an inner rotating housing and rotor moving around a central shaft. Rotary engines were smaller and lighter than their piston counterparts while still capable of generating enough horsepower and high rpms with turbinelike smoothness.

But rotary engines also had major shortcomings. The original motors had to be disassembled to change the spark plugs. Early models had problems with combustion chamber sealing and poor emissions performance. And their noncylindrical parts were difficult and expensive to mass produce.

A second prototype rotary engine, the KKM 57, was also created by NSU. The KKM was a radical departure from Wankel's original concept and was built without his knowledge. The second design was adopted by NSU for automotive applications due to its superior low-speed operation and serviceability.

In 1964, NSU introduced the world's first rotary powered car, the Spider. Mazda introduced its own rotary powered car, the Cosmo, three years later. Mazda had formed a licensing pact with NSU in 1961 to conduct its own rotary engine development. Mazda President Tsuneji Matsuda wanted a signature technology to distinguish the small but growing Japanese automaker. After hearing of NSU's work on the rotary engine concept, Matsuda was convinced the design and mechanical elegance was just what Mazda needed to stand out.

The first Mazda with a Wankel engine was introduced in the United States in 1971. Over the first ten years, Mazda sold 200,000 rotary-engine cars in the United States, with prices up to $12,000.

Daimler-Benz, Alfa Romeo, Rolls Royce, Porsche, General Motors, Suzuki and Toyota also licensed the rotary engine at one point starting in the 1960s.

GM heavily promoted rotary engine technology in 1973 but abruptly canceled a testing program in 1974.


Felix Wankel and the Rotary Engine

On August 13 , 1902 , German mechanical engineer and inventor Felix Wankel was born. He is best known for his invention of the first rotary internal combustion engine . Instead of moving pistons , the Wankel engine uses an orbiting rotor shaped as a curved equilateral triangle . Thus it needs few moving parts , is lightweight and compact.

Felix Wankel – Becoming an Engineer

Felix Wankel was born in Baden , the upper Rhine Valley and was educated in Heidelberg where he left school without a degree that would have qualified him for the university . Wankel began working for a publishing house in 1926 and together with some friends, he ran an afterwork machine shop . Wankel was highly talented and was known for his imagination and enthusiasm for combustion engines . Working in the shop was probably very beneficial to Wankel , who could not afford apprenticeship and he is believed to have told his friends in the early years that he imagined the construction of a car with “a new type of engine , half turbine , half reciprocating. It is my invention !”. By 1926 , Wankel attempted to build the rotary automobile engine , but first started by experimenting with rotary valves on motorcycle engines .

Working for the Fascist Regime

However, his mechanical talents were not the only things that defined Felix Wankel . In his early youth, he started to join right-wing and anti-Semitic organizations and became a member of the NSDAP early. At some point – as it is believed – Wankel even received the chance to talk about the issue of technology and education to Adolf Hitler and further leading positions in the party during the late 1920s . He was entrusted the leadership of the Hitler Youth in Baden by Gauleiter Robert Heinrich Wagner , but soon they started to argue about the principles of these groups, as it is assumed that Wankel attempted to put a strong focus on military training while Robert Wagner wanted the Hitler Youth to be a political organization . After further quarrels, Wankel was expelled from the party in 1932 and was arrested one year later for his activities in a National Socialist splinter group. In the following years , Wankel rejoined the NSDAP in the rank of Obersturmbannführer , but was again released shortly after due to unknown reasons. During these years , Wankel continued his research on rotary valves and rotary engines . He also worked for the German government after Hermann Göring agreed to have the Wankel Test Institute set up for him. He managed to device a system for cooling the pistons of an aircraft engine and also a rotary valve for aircraft engines , which was heavily used during the war .

The Rotary Piston Engine

Felix Wankel for a short time was imprisoned in France in 1945 because of his activities and his lab was closed by French troops . After his release, he was temporarily banned from researching. With funds from Goetze AG in Burscheid, Wankel set up the new Technical Development Centre (TES) in 1951 in his private home in Lindau on Lake Constance (moved to an independent new building in 1960). The same year saw the first contacts with NSU through the development of a rotary loader. In April 1954 he finally succeeded in the basic invention for the motion sequence of the only rotary piston engine ever produced in series, the Wankel engine.

A compressor based on the Wankel principle was used by NSU in 1956 for world record rides. Initially developed as a rotary piston engine (DKM 54), both the trochoid (the space in which the piston is located) and the piston each rotated around their own axis at different speeds, promising test rig runs took place in 1957. In the following year the engine was converted to a rotary piston engine (fixed housing with water cooling, now only the oil-cooled piston moved the so-called “kinematic reversal” did not happen by Felix Wankel, however, but by the NSU engineer Hanns-Dieter Paschke.

Success

On January 19, 1960, the rotary piston engine was presented to experts and the press for the first time at a VDI meeting at the Deutsches Museum in Munich. In the same year, the KKM 250, the first practical rotary piston engine in a converted NSU Prinz, was presented. At the IAA (German International Automobile Exhibition in Frankfurt a. M.) 1963 NSU presented the NSU Wankel-Spider, the first passenger car produced with a Wankel engine, which went into series production in 1964. The licensees for Wankel’s rotary engine were Daimler-Benz (from 1961), General Motors (from 1970) and Toyota (from 1971).

Wankel died on October 9, 1988, in Heidelberg , aged 86.

At yovisto academic video search you can learn more about ‘How engineers learn from evolution’ in a lecture by Dr. Robert Full.


A Short History of Wankel Motorcycles

Dr. Felix Wankel with the first prototype of his rotary engine in 1957, which had a rotating inner chamber, unlike all later Wankels. [Hockenheim Museum Archive]

Motorrad Zschopau (MZ)/ IFA

The first motorcycle application of the Wankel engine emerged from the IFA/MZ factory, from 1960. MZ took out a license from NSU in 1960, to develop Wankel engines as possible replacements for their two-stroke engines in both motorcycles and the ‘Trabant’ 3-cylinder two-stroke car. Within 3 months, a single-rotor, watercooled engine (using the thermosyphon principle rather than a water pump?) of 175cc, was installed in an IFA chassis (the ‘BK 351’ of 1959) which formerly housed a flat-twin two-stroke engine. The development team included engineer Anton Lupei, designer Erich Machus, research engineer Roland Schuster, plus machinists Hans Hofer and Walter Ehnert, who deserve credit as the first to build a Wankel motorcycle.

The world’s first Wankel-engined motorcycle, the 1960 IFA/MZ ‘KKM 175W’ [Hockenheim Museum Archive] The Wankel motor is neatly mated to the existing IFA gearbox (with shaft drive – similar to the BMW R25 gearbox), and developed 24hp, twice that of the comparable 175cc MZ two-stroke engine. The prototype appears to have been extensively tested, and currently has over 38,000km on the odometer. It lay in obscurity for years, before a 1994 exhibit of MZ history at Neckarsulm brought it back to light.

Details of the water-cooled MZ engine twin spark plugs, single (tiny) carb, radiator, neatly mated gearbox. [Hockenheim Museum Archive] A second prototype was built in 1965, using a new 175cc air-cooled, single-rotor engine, also producing 25hp, considerably more than the ES250 ‘Trophy’ engine normally installed in this chassis. This engine appears very much based on the Fitchel and Sachs engine, which was well-developed by 1965 and being sold under license worldwide. Despite the success of both MZ engines, inevitable problems with rotor tip seal failure and high engine/exhaust temperatures meant lots of development money would have been required to replace their reliable two-strokes… money which MZ didn’t have. Their incredibly successful race program (all two-strokes, designed by the genius engineer Walter Kaaden) was practically created out from the factory scrapheap, with little help from the Socialist functionaries controlling industry in the GDR.

The second prototype MZ, using an air-cooled 175cc Wankel motor the KKM 175 L. [Hockenheim Museum Archive] The idea of a simple, robust, and compact rotary engine was very appealing in the early days of Wankel development, but the dream proved unrealistic, as it became clear production machines required terrible complexity for acceptable road use. East German engineers created several prototype engines for the Trabant and Wartburg autos, but none were developed beyond the prototype stage, and the NSU license was allowed to expire in 1969.

The KKM 175L used an extremely compact Wankel engine. [Hockenheim Museum Archive]

Yamaha licensed the Wankel design in 1972 and quickly built a prototype, showing the ‘RZ201’ at that year’s Tokyo Motor Show. With a 660cc twin-rotor water-cooled engine, it gave a respectable 66hp @6,000rpm, and weighed 220kg. While the prototype looks clean and tidy, the lack of heat shielding on the exhaust reveals the Yamaha was nowhere near production-ready, given the searing heat of the Wankel exhaust gases, and subsequent huge, double-skinned, and shielded exhaust systems on production rotaries.

The 1972 Yamaha RZ201. [Yamaha] During this period, Yamaha was looking for alternatives to its small-capacity two-strokes, developing large rotary, two-stroke, and four-stroke engines. With ‘shades of George Brough’ (ie, showing prototypes to ‘wow’ show-goers), another never-manufactured Yamaha design was shown in 1972, a 4-cylinder two-stroke – the TL750.

The Yamaha rotary on display at the factory. [Yamaha]

One year after Yamaha introduced, but never manufactured, their rotary, Suzuki introduced the RE5 Rotary at the 1973 Tokyo Motor Show. Suzuki licensed the Wankel engine on Nov.24, 1970, and spent 3 years developing their own 497cc single-rotor, water-cooled engine, which pumped out 62hp @ 6500rpm. Styling of the machine was reportedly entrusted to Giorgietto Guigiaro, a celebrated automotive stylist and advocate of the ‘wedge’ trend in cars, who leaked into the motorcycle world via several projects, notoriously the 1975 Ducati 860GT. Guigiaro’s touch extended only to the cylindrical taillamp and special instrument binnacle for the RE5 a cylindrical case with novel sliding cover, meant to echo the futuristic rotary engine… the rest of the machine looked nearly the same as Suzuki’s GT750 ‘Water Buffalo’.

The original 1974 RE5, with futuristic touches, in a German brochure. [Suzuki] The modest power output of the engine, combined with the 550lb wet weight, meant performance wasn’t exciting, with a top speed of 110mph no better than the two-stroke T500 series it was meant to displace, and far more complex, heavy, and expensive. Unfortunately, the release of the RE5 coincided with the Oil Crisis of 󈨍, and customers suddenly became wary of the rotary’s reputation for poor fuel economy. This combined with motorcyclists’ typical skepticism of anything too new, meant sales of the RE5 were far lower than required to recoup their investment. With millions at stake in the project, Suzuki were determined to carry on production. Blaming Giugiaro’s binnacle, in 1975 the styling was more conventional, but sales didn’t improve, and by 1976 Suzuki had swallowed their losses, and shut production. Around 6,300 were built.

The more ‘conventional’ 1975 RE5, from their 1975 catalog. [Suzuki]

Fitchel and Sachs were the second licensee of the Wankel engine, on Dec 29, 1960, and the first with a motorcycle connection, with ‘Sachs’ the largest European maker of two-stroke engines. Sachs built their rotary as a small, light accessory motor for applications as diverse as lawnmowers, chainsaws, and personal watercraft.

The 1974 Hercules W-2000, with Sachs single-rotor engine. [Paul d’Orléans] The first two-wheeled mass-production of the Wankel engine was the ‘Hercules’ W-2000 of 1974, with a 294cc/20hp (later 32hp) air-cooled engine, with a single-rotor, which had previously been used in a snowmobile. The prototype machine used a BMW R26 gearbox and shaft drive, but production W-2000s used a 5-speed gearbox and chain final drive.

The Sachs engine of the Hercules W-2000. [Paul d’Orleans] The Hercules was good for 82mph (later 94mph), and was the first production motorcycle using a Wankel motor. The first models used a two-stroke mix in the petrol to lubricate the engine, which was later upgraded to an oil injector smoky in either case! About 1800 were sold under both Hercules and DKW badges between 1974-76. In 1977 they sold all their production tooling to Norton.

The prototype Hercules rotary 6 Days Trials racer, which was fast but suffered overheating in the 1976 ISDT. Note the engine is oriented 90degrees to the W-2000, with a vertical crankshaft, presumably to raise the engine. [South Bay Riders forum] Hercules also built a few off-road Wankel-engined motocrosser, for the ISDT and for their US importer Penton Motors. A few of these showed up in the USA, and vex the experts on MX history, as they’re very rare. The crankshaft was mounted nearly vertical, presumably to give a shorter wheelbase and better cooling, and while the engine might look like a two-stroke, a close look reveals the truth about the Hercules MX Wankels.

A rare limited-production Hercules Wankel MX bike, as sold through US distributor Penton Motors circa 1975. Note the very different cooling fins from the ISDT machine, although the chassis is nearly identical.[Gary Roach]

BSA felt, in common with most of the automotive industry, that the Wankel was the engine of the future, and in 1969, hired David Garside, a gifted young engineer, to begin exploration of Wankel engines for a motorcycle. Market research indicated the motorcycling public would accept the Wankel engine on fast sports machines, and Garside’s small team began experimenting with a Fitchel and Sachs single-rotor engine, and with significant changes to the intake system, gained a staggering 85% more power, to 32hp. Suddenly the experimental engine looked appealing.

The original BSA test mule, with A65 cycle parts note the compact motor, and doubled-up ‘cigar’ silencers – rotaries are Loud! [Hockenheim Museum Archive] Economic catastrophe at BSA meant development was immediately stalled. 1973 was the end of BSA, as the British gov’t formed NVT – Norton-Villiers-Triumph…BSA was dropped from the title, even though it had owned Triumph since 1951! Still, under Dennis Poore’s thoughtful leadership, the rotary project continued, and it was Norton who licensed the Wankel design on July 25, 1972.

David Garside in his kitchen, explaining the function of his air-cooled Wankel motor, which he is still developing for aircraft use. Many Norton-based rotaries are used in military drones! [Paul d’Orléans] David Garside and his team began physical research with the installation of a Sachs fan-cooled single-rotor motor in a BSA ‘Starfire’ chassis this was the first of a long line which led to the famous Norton rotaries. The 294cc engine gave 32hp at 5500rpm, and evidenced significant problems with heat – with twice the combustion events per revolution compared with a piston engine, and a physically much smaller engine unit, heat is a significant issue with Wankels. Sachs dealt with heat by routing the incoming air through the rotor itself, but this heated up the incoming mix, which reduces power. Garside redesigned the intake route, so that it still cooled the rotor, but then passed into a plenum chamber to cool off again. Air passing through the engine entered the plenum at 100ºC, but was cooled to 50º by the chamber and atomized petrol.

Fan-cooled Sachs motor in BSA Starfire running gear. [Hockenheim Museum Archive] In this work, Garside was helped by Bert Hopwood, retired BSA and Triumph designer (a protogé of Edward Turner, and author of the excellent ‘Whatever Happened to the British Motorcycle Industry’), and the pair added a second rotor to the Sachs engine (giving 588cc), with many times the original finning area, plus that redesigned intake. The engine was installed in several chassis over the years, from a Triumph ‘Bandit’ to a Norton Commando, but eventually an entirely new chassis was developed, as the engine showed considerable promise during development.

Norton-built twin-rotor, air-cooled engine, installed in a Triumph ‘Bandit’ chassis. [Hockenheim Museum Archive] The first twin-rotor engine was installed in a Triumph ‘Bandit’ chassis in 1973, which was never shown to the public. With nearly 70hp, about twice the ‘spec’ of the original dohc Bandit twin-cylinder piston engine, this prototype must have been a lively ride!

Norton rotary, Norton Commando chassis…the compact rotary engine looks tiny compared to the original 750cc vertical twin. Note plenum chamber above the engine. [Hockenheim Museum Archive] It was clear a new chassis was needed, and later in 1973 the Wankel appeared in a new frame, with a large spine tube which held oil various iterations can be seen with Norton or Triumph tanks, as the engine was developed, in 1973/4: these were code named the ‘P39’.

The 1973 ‘spine’ frame with Triumph Trident tank this machine has been restored, and can be found at the Hockenheim Motorsport Museum. [Hockenheim Museum Archive] After the merger of Norton and BSA/Triumph in 1973, another chassis was created for the rotary Norton, with box-section frame tubes – still holding oil – and an integrated airbox the 1978 ‘P42’. With a Triumph T140 5-speed gearbox, this wholly new Norton was intended for production, and enough material collected for a first batch of 25 machines, but the project was halted suddenly, even after brochures were printed and journalists (notoriously, Cook Nielsen of Cycle World) invited to test it.

The Norton ‘P42’ prototype of 1978. [Norton] It took until 1984 for Norton to gear up production, but the ‘P42’ model was never sold to the public it became the ‘Interpol II’, a police motorcycle Norton had a long history of supplying the police, with the original Interpol Commando built from 1970-77. The Interpol II used Norton’s well-developed 588cc air-cooled twin-rotor engine gave 85hp, and was in production from 1984-89, with around 350 built.

The Norton Interpol II police motorcycle. [Norton Owner’s Club] The first Norton civilian rotary was the ‘Classic’, built as a limited edition of around 100 machines in 1987, which sold out quickly. It was essentially an Interpol II in civilian garb, with a traditional Norton silver-and-black paint scheme. With all the bodywork removed, the 85hp engine gave sporting and smooth performance, very reliably, having been de-bugged using feedback from police agencies. The engine weight was low, making for easy handling.

The ‘Classic’ of 1987, air-cooled, a naked Interpol II. [Norton] As Norton continued to develop their rotary, water-cooling was a natural next step to deal with heat issues, and in 1988, an Interpol II with a radiator was introduced, the ‘P52’. The civilian version, essentially a re-painted Interpol, was the p53 ‘Commander’, produced from 1989, with 85hp on tap. Norton hoped to repeat the success of the Classic, but the machine was criticized for using merely adequate Yamaha wheels and suspension, and not the sporting items one might expect of the Norton marque. Around 300 Commanders were built.

The water-cooled Commander tourer, with Krauser bags. [Norton] Such disappointments were rectified in 1990, when Norton finally lived up to its heritage and introduced the lovely ‘F1’ (‘P55’), based on their RC588 racers, then in the midst of a terrific run of success on the racetrack in 1989 they won the British F1 championship. Only one color scheme was offered, in race sponsor ‘John Player’ livery of black and gold. Power was bumped to [email protected], from the water-cooled engine. The F1 had issues with heat buildup, as the bodywork almost sealed the engine unit within plastic, and lost quite a few hp when ridden hard. Around 145 F1s were built. Built with a Spondon aluminum twin-spar frame, White Power upside-down forks, a Yamaha 5-speed gearbox, and stainless exhaust, the F1 sold for an expensive £12,000.

The discreet Norton F1 ad campaign…[Norton] In 1991, Norton rectified the heat issues by introducing the F1 Sport (‘P55B’), which was effectively a F1 Replica, using the same bodywork as the racers, with more air flow possible around an open fairing, which resulted, curiously, in a less expensive sportsbike. Some consider the F1 Sport the finest of all the rotary Nortons. 66 were built, before Norton’s eternal financial troubles put an end to rotary production…for now.

The last Norton F1 Sport of 1992, in rare blue. [Norton Owner’s Club]

In 1976, Henk vanVeen, the Dutch Kriedler importer, saw potential in the new rotary Comotor engines, which were compact and developed good power. Comotor was a joint venture of NSU and Citroen, who invested huge sums developing a new Wankel engine for the Citroen GS Birotor. The prototype of this engine had been extensively tested between 1969 and 󈨋 in the Citroen M35, which was never officially sold, but 267 were given to loyal customers for beta-testing. The M35 engine used a single rotor rated at 47hp, whereas the later GS engine had two rotors, and produced 107hp from a 1,000cc. Van Veen saw this powerful and compact engine as the basis of a new superbike, and created the VanVeen OCR 1000.

Henk van Veen with his OCR 1000. [Van Veen] The OCR was a heavy machine at over 320kg, but had good performance, with a top speed of over 135mph, and could hit 125mph in under 16 seconds. The water-cooled engine was housed in a Moto Guzzi chassis, used a gearbox designed by Porsche, and sold for $15,000, the same price as a Lotus Elite! 38 VanVeen OCRs were built before Comotor went into liquidation, as the GS Birotor was an utter flop, a gas-guzzler appearing exactly during the 1973 oil crisis, and worse, it was more expensive than the venerable Citroen DS, and slower. Citroen even tried to recall and destroy all examples, but a few survive. The VanVeen OCR, on the other hand, has always been a coveted and expensive collector’s motorcycle.

The Comotor twin-rotor, watercooled rotary, rated at 107hp. [Van Veen]

Housed in a CB125 chassis, with a 125cc air-cooled single-rotor Wankel engine. Clearly a test-bed to see if Honda was missing out on the Next Big Thing, this prototype looks to have been built between 1971-73, given the paint job and spec of the CB125 ‘mule’. Honda never bought a license to build Wankels, and also never ‘bought in’ engines, so this little motor is curious indeed…

The Honda Wankel prototype, the A16 CRX [Francois-Marie Dumas]

The ‘X99’ prototype had a twin-rotor engine, water-cooled, which purportedly developed 85hp. Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd, purchased a license to built Wankels on Oct. 4, 1971 the chassis of the X99 appears to be based on Kawasaki’s Z650, introduced in 1976, which suggests the date of this prototype.

The Kawasaki X99 prototype. [Kawasaki]

The Soviets are coming! The city of Serpukhov, 100km from Moscow, was one of many ‘secret’ towns in the Soviet Union, where research into new technology was conducted (plus manufacture of the AK-47), far from prying eyes. VNII-Motoprom was an auto and motorcycle research institute, which created quite a few interesting machines, most notably Soviet racers such as the Vostok-4, and a few Wankel-engined bikes, completely unlicensed. The story of the Soviet motorcycle industry is little known in the West (and the East!), and deserves exploration…

The Motoprom RD501B, with Sachs-derived fan-cooled rotary in the venerable BMW R71-clone chassis. 38hp @6400rpm. [https://b-cozz.com/dnepr-story/] In 1974, the RD501B used the ubiquitous BMW R71-based chassis (from a Dnepr MT-9), with a fan-cooled engine, clearly a copy of the Sachs rotary. With 495cc, it developed 38hp @6300rpm, and used shaft drive. It is claimed two were built.

The fan-cooled engine of the RD-501B [Dnepr.com] The RD-660 prototype was built in 1985, using a 660cc air-cooled twin-rotor engine, with chain drive. The engine is very similar to the BSA/Triumph/Norton prototypes built since 1973…a little Cold War industrial espionage not doubt, but methinks the Soviets bit off more than they could chew with the Wankel motor, as none were produced in series, in cars or motorcycles.

The RD-660 with air-cooled twin-rotor engine. [Dnepr.com] The RD-515, RD-517, and Rotor V-500 prototypes of 1987 used a water-cooled twin-rotor engine, driving through a Dnepr gearbox and shaft drive. Power was claimed close to 50hp, with great mid-range torque, and while the prototypes had modern cast-alloy wheels (still with drum brakes), these proved inadequate for Russian roads, and apparently tended to break. This was the last Motoprom Wankel exploration.

The RD-515 with a water-cooled version of the Sachs engine [https://b-cozz.com/dnepr-story/]

Little-known outside the Eastern Bloc, Izh is the oldest Soviet/Russian motorcycle manufacturer, founded in 1929 in Izhevsk (on the banks of the Izh river) as part of Stalin’s enforced industrialization of the agrarian economy, begun in 1927 with the rejection of Lenin’s ‘New Economic Policy’, which allowed producers of grain or goods to sell their surplus at a profit – very similar to China’s first moves toward Capitalism in the 1990s. Stalin’s successful effort at creating an industrial power, where none existed previously, actually decreased the standard of living, caused widespread famine, and meant imprisonment or death for millions…although it did create an automotive and motorcycle industry. Not that 95% of Soviet citizens could afford it in those early days, although Izh sold something like 11 Million motorcycles before 1990.

The 1990 Izh ‘Super Rotor’ at a Russian motorcycle show. [Internet] One of the last hurrahs for Soviet-era Izh was this Wankel-engined prototype of surprisingly contemporary, if clunky, aesthetics. The ‘Rotor Super’ was under development at the end of the Soviet era, and shown just after the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, when the Russian economy was in relative chaos. Suddenly without the state business subsidies and guaranteed incomes of potential customers, all Soviet-era businesses were suddenly faced with the need to make a profit, and rash ventures such as Wankel superbikes were out of the question. Izh is still in business, making inexpensive small-capacity motorcycles.

Brian Crighton joined Norton Motors in 1986, as a service engineer working on their Wankel models. He was promoted to their R&D department, and began developing a scrap 588cc air-cooled Norton engine, raising output from 85hp to 120hp. The engine was installed in a prototype racer in 1987, which hit 170mph on tests, and scored a victory on its second outing. Realizing they had a winner, Norton found sponsorship with JPS, and in 1989 Steve Spray won the British F1 and SuperCup championships. Crighton split from the Norton team in 1990, and teamed with Colin Seeley as Crighton Norton Racing, competing against factory GP two-strokes of the era. Their swansong was the British SuperCup Championship in 1994, after which the Wankel engines were banned from competition.

The 2017 Crighton Racing CR700P, based on the Norton platform, and continuously developed by Brian Crighton. [Crighton Racing] Crighton still believed in the possibility of lightweight, simple, and ultra-powerful Wankel engines for high-performance motorcycle work. In 2006 the ‘new’ Norton announced the NRV588, Crighton’s latest version of the Wankel racer, with 200hp and 300lbs, but the project was abandoned as Norton moved towards producing their vertical twin machines based on the Kenny Dreer prototypes. In 2017, Crighton announced a partnership with Rotron to build the CR700P, a limited-edition version of the NRV588, a 200hp lightning bolt weighing a mere 399lbs (136kg), with 100ft-lbs of torque at 9500rpm, which is a GP-level mix of high performance and ultra light weight. The CR700P was announced as both a street and a road model, although passing Euro4 environmental and safety regulations seems all but impossible for the road for such a machine, barring a significant infusion of capital. Brian Crighton is a true keeper of the flame for the Wankel engine in motorcycles.

Paul d’Orléans is the founder of TheVintagent.com. He is an author, photographer, filmmaker, museum curator, event organizer, and public speaker. Check out his Author Page, Instagram, and Facebook.


Soviet-born scientist stirs up a revolution in engines in the U.S.

In 1975 Russian physicist Nikolai Shkolnik left the Soviet Union for the U.S. after graduating from the Kiev Polytechnic Institute. For 10 years he worked as a consultant for struggling innovation companies. Throughout these years, he was constantly preoccupied with one question - why are modern car engines so inefficient?

Shkolnik developed his own high-efficiency hybrid cycle (HEHC) engine, which became a key step towards his dream. He was helped by his son Alexander, who eventually graduated from MIT and had become an expert in system optimization.

Nikolai Shkolnik is convinced that, among other things, the education he received in the USSR helped his ambition to create a revolutionary engine.

&ldquoThere are big differences between American engineers and those trained in Russia,'' said Shkolnik. ``American engineers are incredibly effective in what they do, and it usually takes two or three Russian engineers to replace one American. However, Russians have a broader view of things, which has to do with their education at least in my time it did. They are capable of achieving goals with a minimum of resources.&rdquo

Blast from the past

The father and son inventors were inspired by the idea of a rotary engine, whose principles were first proposed in the mid-20th century by German inventor, Felix Wankel.

Ordinary piston engines have many rotating and moving parts, which reduces their efficiency. The Wankel engine, however, has an oblong chamber with a triangular rotor inside it, whose movements create different sections in the chamber where fuel is injected, compressed, burnt and released.

Despite their higher efficiency, rotary engines failed to win wide recognition because they were not very reliable and not environmentally-friendly.

Rotary engines reincarnated

The Shkolniks founded the LiquidPiston company and created their own version of a rotary engine where the rotor has the shape of a nut that revolves in a triangular chamber, thus resolving the shortcomings of the Wankel engine. In addition, the Shkolniks&rsquo engine creates a so-called isochoric combustion that is fuel burning with the volume remaining constant, thus improving efficiency.

The inventors created five models of an absolutely new engine, one after another, the latest of which was first tested in June when it was installed on a sports cart. The tests lived up to all expectations.

Compact and powerful

The Shkolniks&rsquo miniature engine weighs under two kilos, has a capacity of just three horsepower, and has an efficiency factor of 20 percent. By way comparison, a typical piston engine of the same displacement of 23 cubic centimeters has an efficiency factor of just 12 percent, while a piston engine of the same weight would generate just one horsepower.

Source: Press photo

The efficiency factor of such engines improves dramatically with the increase in their volume. For example, the Shkolniks&rsquo next engine will be a 40-horsepower diesel motor. Its efficiency will be 45 percent, which is higher than the best diesel engines in modern trucks. At the same time, it will weigh just 13 kg, while equivalent piston engines currently weigh about 200 kg.

In the future, the Shkolniks&rsquo compact and powerful engines are planned to be used in light drones, hand power saws and electric generators.

DARPA money

To date, the Shkolniks' startup has received $18 million in venture investment, including $1 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).


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Den tyske ingeniør Felix Wankel, opfinder af en roterende motor, der vil blive brugt i racerbiler, er født den 13. august 1902 i Lahr, Tyskland.

Wankel kom angiveligt med den grundlæggende idé til en ny type forbrændingsbenzinmotor, da han kun var 17 år gammel. I 1924 oprettede Wankel et lille laboratorium, hvor han begyndte forskningen og udviklingen af ​​sin drømmemotor, som ville være i stand til at opnå indtag, komprimering, forbrænding og udstødning, alt sammen under rotation. Han bragte sin viden om rotationsventiler til sit arbejde med den tyske luftfartsundersøgelsesinstitution under 2. verdenskrig og til et førende tysk motorcykelfirma, NSU Motorenwerk AG, begyndende i 1951. Wankel afsluttede sin første design af en roterende stempelmotor i 1954 , og den første enhed blev testet i 1957.

I andre forbrændingsmotorer gjorde bevægelige stempler arbejdet med at få forbrændingsprocessen i gang i Wankel-rotationsmotoren tjente en kredsende rotor i form af en buet ligesidet trekant dette formål. Færre bevægelige dele skabte en glatydende motor, der var let, kompakt, til lave omkostninger og krævede færre reparationer. Efter at NSU officielt annoncerede færdiggørelsen af ​​Wankel-rotationsmotoren i slutningen af ​​1959, hastede omkring 100 virksomheder over hele verden med at foreslå partnerskaber, der ville få motoren inde i deres produkter. Mazda, den japanske bilproducent, underskrev en formel kontrakt med NSU i juli 1961 efter at have modtaget godkendelse fra den japanske regering.

I et forsøg på at eksperimentere med rotationsmotoren og perfektionere den til brug i sine køretøjer dannede Mazda en RE (Rotary Engine) forskningsafdeling i 1963. Cosmo Sport, som Mazda frigav i maj 1967, var planetens første rotor med dobbelt rotor motor bil. Med futuristisk styling og overlegen ydeevne, wowed Cosmo bilentusiaster over hele verden. Mazda begyndte at installere roterende motorer i sine sedans og coupes i 1968, og køretøjer ramte det amerikanske marked i 1971. I kølvandet på en global oliekrise i 1973-74 arbejdede Mazda kontinuerligt med at forbedre sine roterende motorer for at forbedre brændstofeffektiviteten og i slutningen af ​​dette årti var dens sportsbiler blevet populære i både Europa og USA Ud over Mazda licenserede en række andre virksomheder Wankel-motoren i løbet af 1960'erne og 1970'erne, herunder Daimler-Benz, Alfa Romeo, Rolls Royce, Porsche, General Motors, Suzuki og Toyota.

I mellemtiden fortsatte Wankel sit eget arbejde med den roterende stempelmotor og dannede sin egen forskningsinstitution i Lindau, Tyskland, i midten af ​​1970'erne. I 1986 solgte han instituttet for 100 millioner Deutschmarks (ca. 41 millioner dollars) til Daimler Benz, producenten af ​​Mercedes. Wankel indgav et nyt patent så sent som i 1987 året efter døde han efter en lang sygdom.


Watch the video: Felix Wankel - der Wankelmotor (August 2022).