The heart of a car is its engine, and it is the most important, reliable and strongest component of its personality. The engine defines the car’s success story. Manufacturers took pride in what their engineers have developed as the very heart of the motorcar. It used to be more art form for them until the probable shift towards mass manufacturing overshadowed the spirit of creativity. This psyche gave way to a lot of imagination and these engineers were able to build different type of engines to tower over the rest. Some functioned, and some failed. Any way it did give insight to vast new technological horizons of automobile innovation, some of which are still carried today. Here is a list of a few engines that were actually produced and actually propelled a car, and not simply kept in a museum termed as a prototype.
Mazda Wankel Rotary
Remember the screaming Mazda RX8 or the RX7 sliding and drifting through breathing fire, yes for an engine they had a triangular piston revolving in a burning fireball trapped inside a cage producing power. Extremely smooth and balanced, rotary engine was known for its lower cubic capacity but considerably bumped up power delivery. The way it works is with the rotor spinning inside the housing and creating 3 chambers for intake, compression, power and exhaust strokes. The triangular rotor has convex surfaces with three apexes.
Imagine the third generation RX7 in 1993 had a 1.3litre wankel engine that put out 255bhp of power with the help of a turbocharger, from a 1.3! Also Mazda was not the only one to think of the rotary engine, the first car to come with it was the NSU Spider. Mercedes-Benz C111 concept was designed with a rotary engine, and Roll-Royce too thought of a development with a two-stage diesel rotary. Mazda still is selling the charismatic RX8 with a 1.3litre wankel pushing 207 to 247bhp and a 0-100kmph time of 6.3seconds.
Chrysler A57 Multibank
To understand Chrysler A57 Multibank you must know what a bank is. When the number of cylinder increases, they are arranged in a V-format to save space. One line of cylinders here is called a bank, and the angle between them is the banking angle of that engine. The Multibank engine has 5 banks and 30 cylinders displacing 20.5litre cubic capacity running on petrol. Designed for the Sherman tanks, the advantage of the Multibank engine is that it will keep working even if two of its banks are disabled.
Lanchester Twin-Crank Twin
The Lanchester Twin dates its development back to 1899 as a 4.0litre horizontally opposite twin cylinder engine well known for smoothness. The twin cylinder had dual connecting rods on each cylinder connected to two counter rotating crankshafts. At the time of its development this engine was quiet a refined example of engineering as vibration free smoothness was still in its learning phase for car development.
Six stroke engine
Everybody in touch with the world of Internal Combustion Engine knows what 2-stroke and 4-stroke engine is. But this radical engine boasts of a 6-stroke cycle with two power strokes. Technically heat lost from a 4-stroke engine is utilised to drive an additional stroke thus increasing fuel efficiency and improving upon emissions. Also this engine can increase power and torque figures by 35% and have longer service intervals due to lesser wear and tear of components subject to more efficient cooling internally.
This engine sits in this list because of the sheer diversity of its applications. It has been used for tanks, marine, aircraft, commercial trucks to even hot-rod practices. Mechanically a supercharged V12, engine capacities ranged from 10litre to nearly 50litre units. Varying applications could be resolved by one engine with the alteration of changing pistons, crankshaft, erasing the supercharger or replacing heads. Merlin has been recognised as the greatest engine of them all by being extremely stable and with dynamic uses.