Felix Heinrich Wankel (August 13, 1902 – October 9, 1988) was a German mechanical engineer and the inventor of the Wankel engine.
Wankel was born in Lahr, Germany, in the upper Rhine Valley. Since his mother was widowed in World War I, Wankel received no university education or even an apprenticeship. However, he was able to teach himself technical subjects and conceived the idea of the Wankel engine in 1924.
During World War II, he developed seals and rotary valves for German air force aircraft and navy torpedoes. After the war, he was imprisoned by the Allies for some months, his laboratory was closed, his work confiscated, and he was prohibited from doing more work. In 1951, he began development of the engine at NSU (NSU Motorenwerke AG), leading to the first running prototype on February 1, 1957. <ref>Wankel-Jubiläum: Warten aufs Wunder - Auto - SPIEGEL ONLINE - Nachrichten</ref> His engine design was first licensed by Curtiss-Wright in New Jersey. Mazda in Japan solved the chatter marks problem. The engine has been successfully used by Mazda in several generations of their RX-series of coupés and sedans including the R100 and especially the RX-7.
In later years, Wankel was granted an honorary Doctorate of Engineering. He was known for his championing of animal rights and opposition to the use of animals in testing.
Wankel died in Heidelberg, aged 86.
|21.10.1958||Curtiss-Wright Corp.||USA||without restriction, no series|
|29.12.1960||Fichtel & Sachs AG||BRD||industrial engine and boat, 0.5-30 PS|
|25.02.1961||Yanmar Diesel Co. Ltd||JP||gasoline and diesel engine, 1-100 PS, 1-300 PS|
|27.02.1961||Toyo Kogyo, Co. Ltd.||JP||gasoline 1-200 PS land vehicles|
|04.10.1961||Klöckner-Humboldt-Deutz AG||BRD||diesel engine without restriction|
|26.10.1961||Daimler-Benz AG||BRD||gasoline 50 PS upwards|
|30.10.1961||MAN AG||BRD||diesel engine without restriction|
|02.11.1961||Friedrich Krupp AG||BRD||diesel engine without restriction|
|12.03.1964||Daimler-Benz AG||BRD||diesel engine without restriction|
|15.04.1964||S.p.A Alfa Romeo||IT||gasoline engine 50-300 PS or Passenger car|
|17.02.1965||Rolls-Royce Motors Ltd.||GB||diesel and hybrid engines 100-850 Ps|
|18.02.1965||IFA VEB||DDR||gasoline engine 0.5-25 PS and 50-150 PS|
|02.03.1965||Dr.Ing. h.c. Porsche KG||BRD||gasoline engine 50-1000 Ps|
|01.03.1966||Outboard Marine Corp.||USA||gasoline engine 50-400 Ps|
|11.05.1967||Comotor S.A.||L||gasoline and diesel engine 40-200 PS|
|12.09.1967||Graupner||BRD||0,1-3 PS model engines|
|28.08.1969||Savkel Ltd.||IS||gasoline 0.5-30 PS industrial engines|
|01.10.1970||Nissan||JP||gasoline engines 80-120 Ps|
|10.11.1970||General Motors||USA||everything, except aircraft engines|
|24.11.1970||Suzuki||JP||gasoline engines 20-60 PS for motorcycle|
|25.05.1971||Toyota||JP||gasoline engines 75-150 PS|
|29.11.1971||Ford-Werke AG, Köln||BRD||gasoline engines 80-200 PS (1974 quit)|
|25.07.1972||BSA Ltd.||GB||gasoline engines 35-60 PS for motorcycle|
|29.09.1972||Yamaha||JP||gasoline engines 20-80 PS for motorcycle|
|04.10.1971||Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd.||JP||gasoline engines 20-80 PS for motorcycle|
|03.02.1973||American Motors (AMC) ||USA||gasoline engines 20-200 PS|
Honors and awards
- Honorary doctorate degree from Technische Universität München, December 5, 1969.
- The Federation of German Engineers (VDI) Gold Medal, 1969.
- The Grand Federal Service Cross, Germany's highest civilian honor, 1970
- The Franklin Medal, Philadelphia, 1971.
- The Bavarian Service Medal, 1973.
- The "Honour Citizen" of Lahr,1981, and the title of Professor in 1987.
- The Soichiro Honda Medal, 1987.
- Honorary citizenship of Lindau (declined)