The Wankel Rotary Engine
About the Book
Conceived in the 1930s, simplified and successfully tested in the 1950s, the darling of the automotive industry in the early 1970s, then all but abandoned before resurging for a brilliant run as a high-performance powerplant for Mazda, the Wankel rotary engine has long been an object of fascination and more than a little mystery. A remarkably simple design (yet understood by few), it boasts compact size, light weight and nearly vibration-free operation.
In the 1960s, German engineer Felix Wankel’s invention was beginning to look like a revolution in the making. Though still in need of refinement, it held much promise as a smooth and powerful engine that could fit in smaller spaces than piston engines of similar output. Auto makers lined up for licensing rights to build their own Wankels, and for a time analysts predicted that much of the industry would convert to rotary power.
This complete and well-illustrated account traces the full history of the engine and its use in various cars, motorcycles, snowmobiles and other applications. It clearly explains the working of the engine and the technical challenges it presented—the difficulty of designing effective and durable seals, early emissions troubles, high fuel consumption, and others. The work done by several companies to overcome these problems is described in detail, as are the economic and political troubles that nearly killed the rotary in the 1970s, and the prospects for future rotary-powered vehicles.
About the Author(s)
John B. Hege
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Bibliographic Info: 78 photos & diagrams, notes, index
Copyright Date: 2006 
Table of Contents
1. Why a Rotary? 5
2. Early Experiments 15
3. Wankel at NSU 25
4. Curtiss-Wright 42
5. Toyo Kogyo 60
6. Work Continues at NSU 72
7. Fichtel and Sachs Air-Cooled Wankel 80
8. Citroën 84
9. The Wankel at Daimler-Benz 90
10. Rolls-Royce and the Diesel Wankel 100
11. Emissions Regulations and the Wankel 104
12. American Manufacturers and the Wankel 112
13. Mazda Comes to America 121
14. Who Owned the Wankel? 127
15. The Rotary Turnaround 133
16. Rotary Motorcycles 137
17. The RX-7 141
18. Rotaries in Racing 152
19. Current and Future Production 158
Book Reviews & Awards
“it stands apart from the crowd as the only history of the Wankel rotary engine that brings the story into the 21st Century”—SAH Journal; “this book continues to excel…terrific…technophiles will love this”—Hemmings Motor News; “excellent”—Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car; “definitive…readable, technically accurate, and very comprehensive…a must-read…all levels”—Choice; “Hege has thoughtfully penned a complete history…guaranteed to delight”—Old Cars Weekly; “informative”—SciTech Book News; “goes a long way to explaining everything”—The Automobile.