Friday, 10 August 2012

Opel GT/W

The Wankel rotary engine has always courted controversy. Hailed as a revolution in internal combustion when fitted to the NSU Ro80, with its impressively small number of moving parts, it wowed the public... until it turned out the rotor tips lasted about twenty minutes. An engine that has to be rebuilt every 30,000 miles is unlikely to win fans. It was notoriously thirsty too.
Mazda didn't give up on the format, and made it work effectively in the RX-7 in 1978, a car that lived on in various guises until 2002; it was subsequently replaced by the RX-8, also Wankel-powered, although with the engine renamed to the slightly less hilarious 'Renesis'. This success, along with the Le Mans-winning 787B, means that the rotary engine will be forever associated with Mazda.

How different things could have been. The car you see in these photos, the GT/W, could have been the making of the Wankel engine at the hands of Opel, back in 1975. Prior to the Geneva motor show they crafted this gorgeous two-seater streamliner, the Genève, as a design study for a future rotary-powered coupé. However, Opel dropped the Wankel project like a hot potato after all the bad press around the Ro80, and the car was reworked into the GT/W, an engine-less Geneva showpiece. Imagine what could have been had they persevered...
Pic source

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