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Audi Museum Celebrates 60 Years of Wankel


Lest the bright minds over at Mazda forget who invented the Rotary engine, Audi is opening an exhibition at its Ingolstadt museum called “Revolution—60 Years of the NSU/Wankel Engine.”

The exhibition runs from may 20 to November 5 and tracks the long history of, as Jay Leno likes to say, the only truly new internal combustion engine of the 20th century. From the 1962 “Ski-Craft” to the 1979 Audi 200 KKM, the exhibition follows the progress of Felix Wankel’s creation.

Monstrous politics aside, Wankel was a talented engineer and self-taught expert on seals, which is a little ironic if you know much about rotaries. His fascination with rotating engines started long before a rotary ever fired up, in the 1920s.

The idea took more than 30 years to properly gestate, though, and it wasn’t until the early ‘50s, when NSU, an Audi predecessor, caught the rotary bug and decided to help develop the engine. Three years later, there was a working test rig.

The engine was eventually plugged into the NSU Spider (which will be in the exhibition), the Prinz, the Ro80, and more.

The exhibition won’t just feature NSUs and Audis, though. Along with those, there will be boats, chainsaws, a Mazda Cosmo, a Citroen M35, engine cutaways, and much more rotary-powered goodness.

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