Felix Wankel never possessed a driver’s license. That means that he never experienced the road manners of an NSU Prinz, Ro80, Mazda Cosmo, Repu, RX2, 3, 4, or 7 (and a few others not sold in the U.S.), nor a Citroën GS Birotor. Oh, he did own an Ro80, but he was chauffeured around in that and I’d bet that it was hard to get a feel for his namesake engine from the back seat.
The list above – to the best of my meager memory – is the extent of the production cars that were offered to the public with Wankel’s rotary engine during his life time. Oh sure there was the RX-8, but that Mazda model was introduced 15 years after the German engineer’s passing. There have also been a pretty substantial number of non-production cars that have carried the triangular piston’d motor, including the above Mercedes C111, and what was likely an amazingly thirsty 4-rotor Corvette back in the ’70s. Wankel’s engine wasn’t confined to four-wheel conveyances either, there was the IFA/MZ KKM 175 and Suzuki RE5 production bikes that put it on two wheels as well.
That’s a small but substantial corral of cars and bikes, many of which are not only easily obtainable today – although good luck with the Citroën, Ro80, or any of the one-offs – but can be appreciably cheap. We like the rotary, because it’s different and it revs all kinds of ways ’til Tuesday. If you you do too let us know, which one would you most like to have?
Leave a Reply