Putting A Four-Rotor Engine In C8 Corvette!

We’ve all been spending a lot more time in our garages lately, and for Rob Dahm, who is one industrious YouTuber, that was the perfect opportunity to stuff a high-winding, four-rotor rotary engine into a 2020 Corvette. Simply placing the factory engine behind the passenger compartment was enough to break the internet recently. Hearing the super-high pitch of a four-rotor engine at full song is SURE to send the ‘net back into convulsions.

Using the same theory that hot rodders have been using for decades, Rob intends to make more power by increasing an engine’s size. Unlike a piston-driven engine, which only has so many holes to fill, a rotary engine is actually comprised of housings that are bolted together. Want to make a bigger engine? Simply bolt on more pieces! Well, not exactly that easy.

As the name implies, the engine consists of four “rotors” tied together on one rotating shaft. Such an engine was not manufactured by the OEMs, so they are hot-rodded in a mad scientist kind of way by bolting them together. Rob is also working on a SIX-rotor version!

Many of us haven’t toyed around with rotary engines very much, but Rob takes some time to explain how these engines work, and what needs to be done to make this particular engine work in its custom form. There are considerations such as having a “crankshaft” long enough to connect each of those madly-rotating, obese triangles. A lot of thought also goes into how to regulate the airflow properly so the engine operates smoothly. When your tach registers rotation in tens-of-thousands, smooth operation can be a significant concern.

The rotor spins wildly within its respective housing. Each of these housings are stacked together to combine the four-rotor engine. A custom crankshaft makes it all possible.

Once everything is said and done, Rob hopes to see a 1,000 rear-wheel horsepower C8 running on four rotors. He’s done it before, but with a full-on billet engine. This one uses cast housings, and will only be driving the rear wheels of the C8, whereas the previous Century-strong rotary was spinning all four wheels on the dyno.

The C8’s engine will be slightly de-tuned to help ensure durability, which will also contribute greatly to the overall cost of the engine. Ever try paying for multiple, one-off components hewn out of billet? Off-the-shelf parts can become quite appealing. The engine will also use a smaller turbo. Instead of the massive 106mm Garrett unit used on the mac-daddy version, this one uses one of Garrett’s brand-new 88mm versions.

Besides a special shaft tieing all the rotors together, Rob also purchased these elongated bolts made specifically for this task They run from the rear of the engine and secure into the front housing to squeeze everything together. In Rob's words, "they're NOT cheap!"

One interesting tidbit brought out in the video, is how these little engines get up to 30% of their cooling through the oil that runs within their housings and rotors. A fact worth noting, especially as Rob discloses that Valvoline has come on board as a sponsor for the channel. The length of the video is also very interesting. Oddly, enough, it’s exactly twenty minutes and fifty seconds, the same viscosity of oil that keeps these engines alive when they are not subjected to beauty shots in the midst of their own online video session.

No rotary is going to make four-digits of power without the help of a turbocharger. Rob will be using an 88mm version on this engine, rather than the massive 106mm version used on the full-billet engine behind it.

How long will it be before we hear a distinctly different-sounding C8? The world is asking that question already in several of the comments. They’re quite entertaining, and much like this video, are well worth the time to take it all in.

About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
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