After receiving the badge of honour of the Association of German Engineers in 1969 and an honorary doctorate in the same year, he was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit in 1970. In 1972 he sold the rights to "his" rotary engine and from then on he dedicated himself to animal welfare and the development of gliding surface boats.
After a long illness Felix Wankel died on 09.10.1988 in Heidelberg.
With the help of sponsors he made his way. From 1934 he was to develop rotary and roller vane controls for BMW aircraft engines. This led to a cooperation with the German Experimental Institute for Aircraft Construction, which brought Wankel to Lindau in 1936. He founded the Wankel Experimental Workshops and finally, at the age of 34 - without a sound technical education and without mathematical talent - became head of a research institute generously funded by the state.
After the war he regained a foothold as a developer.
A decisive milestone was certainly a cooperation agreement with NSU, first for rotary vane controls and later for the development of rotary piston engines. For this purpose he founded the TES 51 in Lindau.
In 1954, he and his team finally achieved the breakthrough: they developed a functional rotary piston engine, which was later developed into a rotary engine or "Wankel engine". This engine was first installed in the NSU Spider and later in the legendary Ro 80.
The above short biography is an excerpt from a documentation about the Technical Development Centre Lindau (TES) on the occasion of the Open Monument Day 2015, which was kindly made available to us by the city of Lindau.
Felix Wankel was born on 13.08.1902 in Lahr. His enthusiasm for machines and technology was evident at an early age. Nevertheless he was bad in the natural science subjects, especially mathematics and physics. In 1921 he left the grammar school without a degree and began an apprenticeship as a publishing house clerk. At the same time he began his first experiments in the "Factory", a room in his mother's apartment. There he constructed and experimented with strong signal lights.
In a backyard workshop in Heidelberg, he and his friends first developed and built a three-wheeled automobile called "Teufelskäfer" (Devil Beetle), later he concentrated on rotary slide valve controls, with which he received his first orders and left the amateur level. In addition, Wankel also dealt with the rotary-piston machine, an experimental field of engine construction, with which he later probably celebrated his greatest success.