Sharp-edged genius  Translated by a computer program, do you want to make this readable?

The death of Felix Wankel            source: MARKT -German- magazine 12/88                                                        updated : 22-06-07

New special!    Sein letztes großes Interview in German language

For the autoworld 1988 was a bad year: in January Donald Healey and Piero Taruffi, Egon Bruetsch, Harry Mundy, Enzo Ferrari, Bill Mitchell, Alec Issigonis and Felix Wankel died. While the Englishmen Issigonis most as, Britain's famous car designers "honoured (The Times, 4 October 1988) and president Cossiga Ferrari as symbol of a better Italy ' designated, was content German daily papers with little interest. Felix Wankel is considered as ingenious, sometimes as difficult to handle, its engine as constructionally problematic is put (South German newspaper, 13 October 1988). Neither one nor the other one apply in such a way. What left Wankel to us, how he is as an inventor to classify, which for human was it?

What for human was it

With difficulty to give today answers. Temporal distance is desired, it is, it remains with the attempt or with personal opinion. If Wankel would have been employed as one that honest, time life a remaining anonymous engineer in the automobile industry, no humans would have rubbed against him. Here now however an industry stranger and an outsider, a man without titles and driving licence erdreistete themselves to place with a rotary-piston engine the lifting cylinder engine and thus the world engine construction in question that had to meeting with hostility, to slandering to lead.

Representatives from science, technology and economics, otherwise accustomed to precise thinking, transferred their dislike against an engine principle, which they did not understand often, to the person Wankels. Purely technical characteristics, like those allegedly to long sealing surfaces or the unfavorable combustion chamber of the Wankel engine, flowed not rarely into adverse remarks over its inventor, who could not even show an engineer study. In such instants comes me the promoter of the Wankel engine and chairman of the board of NSU, Gerd Stieler of Heydekampf, into the sense, which examined more sharply in similar situations its opposite and asked it in satisfying: "can you hand the water to the Wankel?"

Seal question solved

Over investigations at sealings with internal-combustion engines and rotary valve price increases Wankel was on useful valveless gas interactive controls, discovered rotary piston compressors and finally on trick and rotary piston motors. Behind these dry lines hides themselves one working life or approximately 35 years research work, filled with setbacks, erring ways, disappointments, in addition, with successes. It is Wankels earnings/services, from the almost endless number of possible designs a suitable rotary-piston engine to have determined and their seal question solve. With which we would be with the first car with rotary piston engine, the NSU Wankel Spider with a rotary piston motor mainly developed by NSU, important as the number of items of 2375 the fact that the more than testbed outstanding cars ran, was more unproblematic, than work and customers had assumed.

NSU Ro 80

Uprated Wankel Spider drove 1,ünd 2-Liter-Hubkolben car in the running employment up and of it. For the first time a car with rotary piston engine defeated other cars with lifting cylinder engines! An technology-historical event. Until for instance May 1974 can of proper Wankel euphoria is spoken, characterized by benefits of licensing world-wide, the 1967 series Wankelautos NSU Ro 80 and Mazda Cosmo brought out by the conception of prototypes and. Then the turn came: General of engine and Daimler Benz, at that time still companies with pilot function, gave far-prospered Wankel projects up. Peugeot stopped 1975 in the previous year the Birotor production of the subsidiary company Citroen, AUDI only started proceeded two years later likewise with the Ro 80 taken over by NSU. Nearly all other licensees terminated their work on the Wankel engine and do not resumption them not, excluded the Norton Villiers triumph Group, which builds a Norton motorcycle with rotary piston motor since 1982 again.

Investment shyness

What had happened? The negative accompaniments of the mass motorizing entailed in the USA starting from center of the sixties Verbrauchsund exhaust regulations. The American companies rnussten at the latest now to it think, their technically overhauled for replacing in principle wrong cars by more economical passenger vehicles. Required investments. The additional introduction of a new engine principle would have made excessive demands of the financial power of the respective companies, would have impaired at least the declarations of dividend. Also European companies counted on the new acquisition of approximately 75 per cent of the engine manufacturing equipment. Thus Wankels rotary piston motor strauchelte not at technical inadequacy, but at investment shyness, at myopia and also at emotions, whereby the unfortunate world-economical constellation raised the price of, caused by of the OPEC artificially and oil (energy crisis 1973/74) verknappte, the pretext supplied. Only Mazda continued to build Wankelautos steadfastly. Driving strength was Kenichi Yamamoto, at that time director for research and development, today Chairman of Mazda. Parallel to the diesel engine urge after the Diesel euphoria starting from 1897 a company jumped off itself after the other one because of technical difficulties again. Only Heinrich Buz, director/conductor of the one predecessor company, engine works Augsburg ', let research and develop against all resistances further. With success, as one sees. What would have become from the diesel engine and MAN ONE without Buz? Will Yamamoto of the Buz of the Wankel engine become?

1,6 million circle piston car

Until today are about 1.6 million circle piston car built, proof enough that Wankels invention is superior everyday life-suited and in many respects to the lifting cylinder engine. Without doubts Wankel can be placed to Daimler, William May brook and Rudolf Diesel beside large engine engineers Nicolaus August petrol, Carl Benz, God-dear. Danger exists ever nevertheless that the term Wankel engine is forgotten. The foreign country, everything in front Mazda and Norton, does not speak the German industry of Rotary engine, discusses the Wankel engine any longer. Those are not good conditions to continue the inheritance Wankels.

Wankel belongs to the few inventors, who profited still during lifetimes from their inventions. The conversion of its mental achievement had economical meaning, if not for Germany, so nevertheless for Japan. That bekuemmert Wankel. As patriotically adjusted Badenser it hurt it that the German industry with exception of NSU behaved zoegerlich that between BMW and NSU/Wankel to patentstreitigkeiten and that its engine in the own country came was finally dropped like a hot potato. His invention, like also from Diesel, all Spoettern, envious people and Bremsern to the defiance success had granted nevertheless - to that extent would have Felix, who G1ueckliche, with itself and his work to be content to be able.

last years

It was not it. Notion-fully it closed 1963 its, organization of the rotary piston engines ' with the sentence the fact that probably... still various new possibilities hold this machine area, (becomes)". To it the sealing of a new Zwejtakt of rotary-piston engine, which was to carry out and use conventional ' four-cycle rotary piston motor A less in the comparison to, la NSU and Mazda and to lifting cylinder engines with smaller construction volume importantly more actually, succeeded to 1978. With the development this DKM 78 and parallel to it the turning piston loader, DeKoLader ' concerned itself Wankel during the last years.

Wankeis remained to a large extent unknown commitment in environmental protection, in the animal protection and in the health service. Except the usual donations it saved a biotope, when the town councillor von Lindau an excavator lake wanted to umfunktjonieren to the garbage dump. It financed the plant of a reed strip at the Lindauer Bodensee bank and bought up properties, in order to protect threatened plants. He brought one with annually 50.000Mark equipped animal protection research price into being, in order the bioassays Pharma and chemical industry limits and a daily to adjust completely to be able. And finally it created a cancer assistance fund for the fight of an illness, to which it finally succumbed.

And Wankel as humans? At its person the spirit separated. Its Durchsetzungsf'reudigkeit veruebelten it its opponents as Eigenbroetlerei, its persistence as stubbornness. They accused incalculability to him and meant his character, which could be arranged in no pattern. Wankel was almost already sensitive, affection-needy humans with slope to a strong language and fine-intimate poems, poetry. He discussed gladly, explained patiently, complained zornig on, shrank from no conflict, provoked schroff, threw with biting Bermerkungen around itself and possessed an almost dangerous persuasive power. From mathematics it did not have notion, for it the more feelings for technical connections and results an intuitive, creative autodidact as counterpoint to universityformed engineers.
Felix Wankel remained faithful up to its death for the rotary piston motor and left themselves in this Ro 80 chauffieren he had no driving licence!
Felix Wankel was not only a large inventor, he was also a personality.

Q.: Erik Eckermann in  -MARKT 12/88 page 43,-45


< neu! jetz im Buchhandel

links: Ein Leckerbissen für jeden Wankel-Interessierten und Sammler:

Felix Wankel - Leben und Werk in Bildern-.

Dieses Buch beinhaltet zahlreiche bisher unveröffentlichte Abbildungen und erinnert auf 63 Seiten an den wechselvollen Lebensweg und die vielseitigen Arbeiten des Motorenerfinders


Wartberg Verlag



Neuseeland heisst diese haus und grundstuck in Porschacherberg am Bodensee, ohne Hausnummer. Felix Wankel ist der Schöpfer dieses "Bauhaus Ahnliches" geschopfes. Heute hat ein Wankel-Sammler es im Besitz.

Im das oldtimermagazin: Motor Klassiek 8/2002 kan Mann hier Mehr d'ruber lesen.


Felix Wankel - stations of its life

13. 8. 1902 Wankel sees the light of the world in Lahr
1920 1921 High School in Weinheim with Heidelberg
1921-1926 Theory as a publishing house seller
1924 1932 First workshop, building of a driving machine (1927)
1926-1932 Party member of the NSDAP, youth leaders
1928 1931 Sealing attempts, also repairs
1933 First patent application of a drehkolben-Maschine (DKM 32); 6 months detention
1934 1936 Research contract (rotary valve price increases, also rotary piston engines) of BMW in that, test department Lahr ' (office and workshop in the parental house, engine test stand at company Automatenbau)
1936 1945 Wankel Versuchswerkstatt WVW in Lindau, financing by the German Reich via German laboratory for aviation DVL; Work on rotary valves -, rolling deer slidegate valve and disk trick schieber-Steuerungen for aircraft engines, continue working on I)rehkolben machines
1944 Test run of a rotary piston compressor for Borsig
1945 Detention and research prohibition by the allied ones
1951-1961 Technische Entwicklungsstelle TES Lindau (Wohnhaus Wankel). Auftragsarbeiten von: Goetze, 1951 (Kolbenringe, Abdichtungen); NSU, 1951 (Drehschieber-Steuerungen) ; Borsig, 1953 (Rotationskolben Luftverdichter DKM 53); NSU, 1954 (Drehkolben-Motor DKM 54) 
1956  NSU-Rekordfahrten (50 ccm Quickly ,Liegestuhl') mit Wankel- Drehkolben-Verdichter DKM 54 
1957  Wankel-NSU-Drehkolben-Motor DKM 54 auf dem Prüfstand 
1958  NSU-Kreiskolben-Motor KKM 57 auf dem Prüfstand 
1960  Prototyp NSU Prinz mit KKM 250 (30 PS) 
1961  Bau (nach Wankels Ideen) der architektonisch einzigartigen ;Technischen Forschungs- und Entwicklungsstelle TES' der Fraunhofer- Gesellschaft, Lindau (1973 Kauf durch Wankel und Hutzenlaub) 
1963  Vorstellung NSU Wankel Spider (KKM 502), Serienfertigung 1964-1967; erstes Serienauto mit Rotationskolben-Motor (1 Läufer) 
1963  Veröffentlichung von Wankels ,Einteilung der Rotationskolben-Maschinen', Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 
1967  Vorstellung Mazda Cosmo Sport; erstes Auto mit Zwei-I,äufer- Kreiskolben-Motor 
1967- 1977  NSU Ro 80 (KKM 612); erstes deutsches Auto mit Zwei-L.äufer- Kreiskolben-Motor 
1969  Verleihung der Ehrendoktor-Würde der TH München und Verleihung des VDI-Ehrenzeichens 
1970  Verleihung des großen Bundes-Verdienstkreuzes 
1971  Verkauf der Wankel GmbH an Lonrho Ltd. 
1971  Prototyp des hochseefähigen Wankel-Gleitflossen-Motorboots ,Zisch' mit Autobahn-Reisegeschwindigkeit 
1972  Stiftung des Felix-Wankel-Tierschutz-Forschungspreises 
1973  Verleihung des Bayerischen Verdienstordens 
1976  Wankel-Museum in Lindau, ab 1984 in Staad/Schweiz 
1986  Verleihung des Goldenen Ehrenrings des Deutschen Museums 
9. 10. 1988  Felix Wankel stirbt in Heidelberg 

TO MAIN  De vertaling in Nederlands volgt