Popplow From Avantgarde To Nostalgia

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Popplow From Avantgarde To Nostalgia

  1. 1. From avantgarde to nostalgia: Public images of Felix Wankel’s rotary engine (1959-1989) Felix Wankel’s rotary engine was presented to a broader public in 1959. The first cars equipped with it were the NSU Spider (1964) and the famous sedan NSU Ro 80 (1967). Many contemporaries expected that the rotary engine would replace common piston engines in the course of the next decade. Marketing for the rotary engine thus entailed a special strategy to foster technological nostalgia: It attempted by various means to declare piston engines outdated. In the end, these efforts did not cause the rotary engine to become the standard technology used to drive a car, in spite of world-wide distribution and experimentation by a large number of automakers. In the wake of the oil-crisis (1973/74), most of them turned to fuel-efficient diesel engines instead. Today, cars with rotary engines have thus become a subject of technological nostalgia themselves. My contribution will discuss this case study with special emphasis on the various instances of technological nostalgia included in the history of the rotary engine.

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