Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Direct Injected 2-Stroke: 1997 Ford Aspire Prototype

Folks have toyed with the concept of direct injected two-stroke engines for fact, I worked at a (now defunct) small alt-fuels engineering firm (BKM) in the early 2000s that was working with Yamaha on direct injection technology for small engines...and it was neat stuff that never went anywhere.  Anyway, at the same time there was a small (not defunct, but now in the unmanned aerial vehicle biz) company in Perth, Australia called Orbital Engines Corp that produced about a hundred direct injection engines and put them in Ford Aspires that drove around making two-stroke noises without the 2-stroke smells.  Here is one that has some engine noises according to the seller -- just head to your local Pep Boys for new parts, shouldn't be a problem. Find this 1997 Ford Aspire offered for $5000 in Newbury, NH. Tip from Cory.

From the seller:

condition: fair
delivery available
make / manufacturer: Orbital Engine, LTD
model name / number: Installed in Ford Aspire 1997
Back in the 1990's a Western Australia company called Orbital Engine, Ltd. perfected a direct-injection system that rendered 2-stroke engines clean and fuel efficient. It also rendered 4 strokes more efficient and more readily optimized without after-treatment or alteration of existing catalytic converter systems.

At various times Ford, GM, Mercedes-Benz, and Saab considered using this system in cars. Mercury outboards Optimax line uses the same system. Ford actually began outfitting a production facility in Tecumseh Michigan but then cancelled. Currently Orbital Engine supplies variants of the system for powering drones. Several scooter companies began installing the system in the early 00's, which spurred technology improvements in small 4 strokes, which killed the market for small 2-strokes despite their superior performance.

There is a unique MIT connection there in that the Ford initiative was cancelled in part due to the input from Dr. John Heywood from the Sloan Automotive Lab.

I came by prototype 001 in the late 1990s and have provenance as well as technical manuals and testing/monitoring software (in old format). I also have the emissions testing records for when I drove it in Connecticut and New Hampshire. However, two years ago the engine began making "bad noises" and my adventurous mechanic retired so I've not had means to maintain it.

I'm looking for a good home for it, preferably with someone who has some idiosyncratic interest in "what might have been" cars. If you're that special "unique" someone, get in touch and we can correspond further about this.

Thanks for your interest.
do NOT contact me with unsolicited services or 


  1. This would be a perfect wackomobile to revive and race in Lemons. They would eat this thing up. A 3-cylinder 2-stroke snowmobile engine wouldn't be new to the series though - head of tech inspection John Pagel and his guys at Evil Genius Racing built "Balto" the Miata with ring-ding-ding snowmobile power. It didn't see very many races and I don't know what became of the car after they sold it, but it was entertaining while it lasted.

  2. Is this the same Australian company that developed that doughnut shaped engine?
    I never heard about them doing anything with pistons.


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