Thursday, August 14, 2014
August 13: Rotary engine inventor Felix Wankel was born on this date in 1903
Felix Wankel always claimed he was just 17 years old when he had a dream about driving a car he'd built himself to the theater, powered by an engine that combined the best of pistons and turbines. It would take him 40 years of work and research to build one that worked, but eventually Wankel's idea of a rotary engine caught the attention of manufacturers around the world.
While Mazda embraced and perfected the Wankel rotary, most other automakers considered it -- and General Motors cancelled its own Wankel plans just before production began in the '60s. A few years back, Mazda stopped building the RX-8, the world's last rotary-powered car, but vowed it would return; and as you can hear below, there's nothing quite like the sound of a racing rotary, like the engine in the 787b that led Mazda to victory at Le Mans.