Oh, the Wankel rotary engine. That bizarre little breadbox of internal combustion, an oddball lump that powered everything from the Mazda’s first real sports car, the Eunos Cosmo, to the nineties RX-7 and wailing, Le Mans prototype racecars. The philosophy of the Wankel rotary is simple: an oblong combustion chamber, with triangular internals (see: “rotors”) sealed inside, riding on a single drive shaft. That shaft rotates once during every power stroke, instead of twice like the Otto cycle, eliminating many of the efficiencies of a reciprocating piston engine. On the merits of uniqueness alone, the rotary has earned a cult following. Their appetite is insatiable.
Still, the rotary has faced its share of real-world application challenges, mostly reliability and fuel economy; we haven’t seen one in a production car since the Mazda RX-8 died in 2012. In the recently-unveiled RX-Vision concept car, though, it seems this strange, wonderful motor will soon return. Are you one of the rotary faithful, a true believer? Here’s a little something from artist René Jodoin, circa 1966, to hold you over until the next RX production car arrives. Behold, the magic of triangles.