Muscle Cars

Rotary engines: [A triangle in A Square Peg]

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If you want to present a conundrum to your friends, ask them how can they make a square hole with a triangle? Answer – with a rotary engine.

Without going into all the technical specifications, the video below explains the process.

A rotary engine essentially works where the crankshaft remains stationary and the cylinder block rotates around crankshaft. Mostly used in aircraft and motorcycles up to the end of World War I.

The advantages of a rotary engine – able to handle more rpm’s than a regular engine, but they are not great with fuel economy or emissions and they need lots of TLC, e.g. rigorous checking of the oil usage. These negatives could arguably be more to do with research and development than the initial design.

The AMC Pacer was planned to have a version of the rotary engine, the General Motors Wankel engine, with a lifespan above 530,000 miles, but due to the overwhelming fuel crisis at the time, the engine was shelved.

It can be argued that a rotary engine has a simple rebuild with just a few basic parts, so why did it fall by the wayside and the piston engine took over?
Manufacturers like Mazda have tried the engine in production cars, but the engine format just didn’t taken off.
As a general consumer engine, they arguably take more ongoing maintenance or are more susceptible than a piston engine.

The choice of engine in a car is about the sum of its parts and that’s not just its mechanical parts. The piston engine may be more complicated, but all things being considered, the piston engine wins out in the end.

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