In the mid-1960s to ‘70s, for example, rotary Wankel engines briefly looked to be the way forward thanks to brave automotive pioneers such as NSU, Mazda and Citroën, with turbocharging finding widespread favour by the 1970s to improve performance and reduce emissions, via Saab, GM, BMW, Renault and others.
By the late 1980s turbo-diesel engines had become the latest must-have technology, ahead of their huge fall from grace in more recent times, led by the Volkswagen ‘dieselgate’ emission cheating scandal, with hydrogen, and more latterly hybrids, enjoying brief moments in the spotlight. These, however, will be ultimately phased out due to pending British Governmental legislation by 2030, when the sale of all new, traditional internal combustion engines (ICE) is set to be outlawed in favour of all new car buyers being strong-armed to choose a low-emission all-electric car.
In that more optimistic jet set decade from the mid-1950s or so, the prospect of jet propelled turbine power was briefly flirted with by a handful of car makers around the world (particularly for motorsport applications), ranging from Rover and Lotus in the UK, Fiat and Renault in Continental Europe, plus General Motors (GM) and Chrysler in the USA.
The advantages and appeal of a gas turbine engine in that idealistic age were (theoretically) easy to understand as a jet engine has no pistons, plus gas turbine units are usually lighter and have offer improved power to weight ratios than piston…