My Car Quest

March 28, 2020

The General Motors Rotary Diesel Team

by Dominick A. “Nick” Vermet –

Not sure when in very late ’60s early 1970, but GM Research at the Tech Center in Warren, MI started on a rotary diesel project. You can see the engine and team members and names in the two photos below.

The key guy/Director was Carl Hoffmann. The number 2 guy was my dad Wim (spelled Vim in the picture sheet) Vermet. He was a Sr. Design Engineer for GM Research and Ph.D. level engineer from Delft University in The Netherlands who emigrated to the USA in ’53 to pursue the American dream. He often talked to me about this project at the dinner table as we lived in Grosse Pointe, MI. I was 12 or 13 years old at the time. I learned about the Wankel engine and apex seals. As you can see from the picture 20 engineers and draftsman were involved.

When GM pulled the plug on all rotary projects this one died also.

Carl Hoffman and my Dad went to work on the Gas Turbine truck and bus engine, GT404 then GT505. This project started in Detroit with GM Research and was quickly moved to GMs Detroit Diesel Allison and went to “Allison” in Indianapolis in 1971.

We moved in ’72 and stayed until ’73 as my Dad felt it was going nowhere and wanted to get back to Detroit to finish my high school education. He stayed with Detroit Diesel Allison and his next task was the design/balance/fabrication of the new 8.2L medium duty 4-stroke engines crankshaft with unique “rolled” fillets. He retired from GM around 1985 at 65 years of age.

I got my BSME from University of MI, co-op’ing with Detroit Diesel Allison and worked there for 25 years before leaving 2 years after Penske sold to Daimler Chrysler.

So now you know a little about the General Motors Rotary diesel and one of its key team members.

General Motors Rotary Diesel Team

GM Rotary Diesel Team

GM Rotary Diesel Team

GM Rotary Diesel Team

GM Rotary Diesel Team Names

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

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Summary
The General Motors Rotary Diesel Team
Article Name
The General Motors Rotary Diesel Team
Description
The authors father was a key member of the General Motors Rotary Diesel Team developing engines for possible use in vehicles.
Author

Comments

  1. Myron Vernis says

    Cool article. One of the gas powered GM rotary engines is on display in the museum in Ypsilanti, Michigan. It’s in an exhibit with all of the variants of the Hydramatic Transmission which were built at Willow Run. Cool museum to visit if you’re near Detroit.

  2. wallace wyss says

    I remember clearly being in a GM press conference when the leader of GM’s Wankel engine project announced it , saying something like it was a very simple engine and it should be no problem. But then the (gas) rotary engine wasn’t prepared for the Energy Crisis and the engines got bad gas mileage so GM dropped it likr a hot potato. GM also chafed at the idea they had signed a per-engine royalty with the US rights holder, Curtiss-Wright. After all GM wasn’t paying Nikolaus Otto’s heirs royalties for making millions of Otto invented four cycle engines.

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