Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Triumphant Return: A Short Personal Note Followed by Wankelcedes SL Content

It's been a while, but I'm back. For now. Maybe. Occasionally. Sporadically. Minimally. Semi-coherently. We'll just have to wait and see, OK?

When this blog was started, I was working an overnight shift and had lots of early morning time on my hands. Since then, I've become a father and changed careers, both of which are full-time, seven day a week type gigs that I'm rather passionate about.

As such, I no longer have the time, patience or mindset to be as meticulous in my posts to this hobby blog, so if you've come to critique my grammar and mechanics, you're about to have your perineum thoroughly tickled. Just remember--I've made a comfortable living out of writing about cars, and neither pedantry nor comment likes pay the bills. So naaaah.

I might be broadening my scope a bit too, as was previously played with in a few off-topic posts prior to the site really slowing down a couple of years ago. I'll still be focusing on cars primarily, but don't be surprised to check in and find a new post on something completely unrelated--music, architecture, food, vintage high-end hi-fi gear, home improvement, travel, yellow book hoarding, competitive flat-pack furniture assembly and the like.

This is something I've long planned to do, as I still truly love this site, and feel that it's worth nourishing on occasion despite any scarcity of free time.

So welcome back, or more likely, not--I'm pretty sure ANF's once steadily growing and valuable following of well-informed, opinionated, and passionate readers has dried up completely, but if by chance anyone is reading this, please feel free to drop a note below and let me know that this isn't a purely masturbatory exercise.

Without further pontification, here's something incredibly cool.

Apparently, Dr. Felix Wankel (patriarch and founder of the famed Wankeler & Sons Inc., LTD GmbH.) bought a third generation R107 platform Mercedes-Benz SL when first launched in the early 70's, right around the time MB had cancelled development of its nearly production-ready rotary engines in face of the 1973 fuel crisis.

Wankel had been in contact with colleagues based in Benz's C111 development team, and had been anxiously awaiting delivery of one of the first production cars. Upon its cancellation, he was somehow able to have a disassembled but complete prototype four-rotor included with the purchase of a new 350SL, in fact the very car seen below, now apparently tucked away in some obscure central European museum.

Reportedly, he drove the car often and very quickly, as it was very fast thanks to the relatively massive 2.4 liter, nearly 400 HP rotary.

Internally coded M950F, only 12 were ever built, and apparently it took several months of work at the doctor's eponymous Research Institute in Lindau to get his running again. It's difficult to imagine a more qualified organization for such work, leading one to believe it would have been a nearly impossible task for anyone lacking similar resources.

Here's a closer look at the wonderful, mysterious four rotor. Reportedly, it pushed the car to 240 km/h or 150 mph with ease, likely sucking down fuel at single digit rates all the while.

Interestingly, a 300SEL 6.3 exhaust manifold is believed to have been re-purposed for collection of spent fumes, and front suspension required quite a bit of modification as well. A stronger clutch was specified, and a large oil cooler was installed under the nose. Notably, the four rotor weighed in some 60kg less than the car's original 4.5 liter (yes, 4.5) V8, easily offsetting any weight added by the cooler.

The car reportedly wears Wankel badges front and rear, but is otherwise largely indistinguishable from any other early R107. I think it's one of the most fascinating and intrinsically valuable cars on Earth, which neatly explains why virtually no one else is even aware of its existence.


  1. I was wondering just the other day why there were not very many rotaries attempted by the Germans. A four-rotor in the early 70s is truly impressive.

  2. Welcome back! And cool Wankel story.

  3. Aaah, glad you're back! Maybe you'll inspire me to dust off my blog as well, of course having a kid and buying a house might preclude that, so for now I'll just enjoy that you're back at it!

    1. Zack,

      We've got a new-ish rugrat and are in the process of fixing up one house and planning to buy another. You have no excuse, The People's Wheels must rise again.

      And thanks!

  4. Welcome back! I've been checking periodically to see if you'd start posting new content. Might inspire me to blog a little as well!