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Old 07-31-2016, 02:37 AM   #2
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There were actually two Wankel Corvettes produced. Cole was under pressure to make the $50M investment deliver a cleaner engine for all of GM, so he also commissioned Pininfarina to design a mid rotor vette. Zora had looked at the Wankel design years before and dismissed them due to their very low torque characteristics. Hofstetter confirmed this quickly and doubled his efforts (pun) by combining 2 two rotor engines to power Bill Mitchell's design. The 4 rotor got all the attention at GM.

Unfortunately for the Italians, they didn't know exactly how anemic the 2 rotor Wankel was. While work was progressing on the 4 rotor in Detroit, the Italians were physically working in Germany under an Opel disguise. When both cars were "finished," the engine guys were still working on both the two and four rotor. Motor Trend and Car and Driver were able to get a full set of publicity pics of the two rotor.

The Pininfarina two rotor - no, this is NOT a Monza 2+2, but guess what inspired that car

Shortly after this second pic, GM wrung its hands of the Wankel and killed it. The two rotor was quietly shipped off to England to be destroyed - but wasn't (another long story) and the 4 rotor went to shows. To pour salt on the EP-882 wounds, the leaky, gutless, tempermental, burns-a-quart-of-oil-per-1000 miles Wankel was removed from the 4 rotor and a 4 bbl, highrise, SBC engine was...and is mounted sideways in the car. It still travels to shows and logs time at NCM. I saw it, in fact I sat in it at the Monterey Historic Auto Races at Laguna Seca in 2002 when they were celebrating Vette's 50th Anniv.

That's the 4 rotor on the stand to the right of the rear fender;

THIS is probably how the first rear mid Corvette would have looked if not for GM's wasted Wankel experiment. BTW, there is a fair sized luggage compartment in the rear, mostly vertical.

More tomorrow
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