When we think of Wankel rotary engines, usually what comes to mind are sporty coupes, compact econoboxes, (or perhaps mini-pickups, if you’re particular twisted). But there was a time that the Torqueless Wonder was considered a viable means of propelling a crew of four or more, with vier Türen or shi doa. Today, your trilemma is to sort through how you’d employ three such cars.
- 1967 NSU Ro80 – From the earliest adopter and first champion of the Wankel engine, the Ro80 has timeless elegance, disc brakes and independent suspension all around, and a funky auto-clutch. And probably a trio of worn-out apex seals.
- 1982 Mazda Cosmo Turbo – Long after NSU went belly-up and Audi had given up on rotaries, Mazda kept the Holy Church of the Wobbling Triangle alive. Stuffing a turbocharged 12A good for 163 horsepower under the hood of an HB Cosmo/929 sedan was a remarkable sign of their passion, to say the least.
- 2009 Mazda RX8 – This one is really a sports coupe, but it barely slides into 4-door territory thanks to its two rear slave doors. People either love or hate the RX8, but proves that a Wankel engine really can work well in a modern car. Until it doesn’t.
You say you prefer POCKITA-POCKITA to HMMMMMM and two doors versus four? Too bad, those aren’t your choices today. You are restricted to these three. Which would you choose to:
- RACE – build into some sort of dedicated racing machine (not street legal) for your choice of competition — any legitimate, sanctioned form of motorsport: road course, rally, drag, LSR, Baja, etc.;
- DAILY – have as your sole street-registered car, for all your commuting and general transportation needs.
- RESTORE – do a museum-quality, factory-correct, frame-off restoration, then add to your collection, but not register to drive on the street.
Your choices should be accompanied by your persuasive justification, or at the very least which choice you felt most strongly about. As always, more caveats (there are always caveats) appear after the jump.