An Illustrated History Of Automotive Aerodynamics: …

Aerodynamics is the study of air flow over airplanes, cars, and other objects

Car Aerodynamics Basics, How-To & Design Tips ~ FREE!

Methinks fender skirts were first popularised by the first gen aero cars like the Tjaarda Zephyr concept and others, but they were used before that in many, many coachbuilt designs as aesthetic elements, to particularly striking effect by Figoni et Falaschi in Delahaye cars (these were the original `pontoon fenders’, used by Auburn, Cord et al). Needless to say those bodies were very heavy and as aerodynamic as an inverted bathtub. I’ve seen pictures of some such cars built for the Maharajas, and they look very, very royal. So fender skirts came to be associated with prestige and luxury, and came into Cadillac’s use. Even today I maintain that the fender-skirted look gives a dignified and composed luxury bearing to the car, if properly applied. However, the Gen1 Insight is not one of the proper applications, largely because it is too small, but I like its skirts anyway!

There’s probably nothing more underestimated in a car’s development and performance than actual aerodynamics

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The Sable was slightly more aerodynamically optimized, and beat the Audi with a .29 Cd. The race was on, and within a few years, GM would also be fielding dramatically more aerodynamic cars.

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In Europe, Citroen was the most diligent keeper of the aero flame for production cars. The compact GS arrived in 1970, with many of the design elements that now look so familiar now, thanks to cars such as the Prius. A sloping front end, fastback rear window, and an abbreviated Kamm-tail. It sported the lowest Cd in the world at the time, for a production car. Its debt to the Berlina Aerodynamica is substantial.

03/06/2013 · There’s probably nothing more underestimated in a car’s development and performance than actual aerodynamics


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This is a great article, but I think we made the right decision in the ’30s when everyone refused to buy an Airflow. There are very few “aerodynamic” cars (excluding true uncompromised shapes like some of the ones mentioned in the first article and the Probes in this article) that don’t look awful to me. Give me an upright, elegant design like the 1960 Continental Mark V or a 20 foot long teardrop from the cover of a 1930s Popular Science, anything in between tends to look wrong (there are of course a few exceptions, like the Opel Calibre, Audi 5000, and a few others).

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While continued refinement of the traditional automotive package will undoubtedly yield further reductions in the aerodynamic coefficient, to make a more dramatic jump requires extreme measures, like the still-born Aptera. Its Cd of .15 is stellar, but substantial compromises are involved. It’s highly unlikely that this represents the shape of mass-production cars in the foreseeable future.

private collection of Formula One cars - Williams F1

What? No mention of one of my favourite cars ever, the Ford Sierra with its Cd of 0.34 in 1982. Most of the automotive design articles/books/magazines I’ve read rate the Sierra right up there with the Audi. Some commentators rate it as more significant due to the its complete and utter stylistic break from its Cortina/Taunus predecessor, and its bringing aerodynamic design within affordable reach of everyday folks (as opposed to the premium-priced Audi). Admittedly though, my 80s car influences were mainly European/Australasian rather than American, I learnt to drive in a Sierra and later owned 3, so I may be slightly biased lol! The way the Probe III became the Sierra is surely a study in transferring revolutionary aerodynamic design to the showroom. The car was so revolutionary in NZ at the time anyway! Pics below from your TTAC CC on the ’86 Tempo Paul.

Aerodynamics of high-speed railway train - ScienceDirect

The current record holder for mass-production cars is the Mercedes E 220 CDI Blue Efficiency Coupe, with a Cd of 0.24. Undoubtedly, that will be broken before long. The Prius and Mercedes represents the current state-of-the-art for a production sedan without any compromises or additional tweaks. Undoubtedly, we’ve arrived in the full flowering of the aerodynamic age, even without the teardrop pointed tails and dorsal fins. That the aerodynamic frontier will continue to be cleft with ever less resistant vehicles is now an absolute given. We’re well beyond the point of no return, although the same sentiments were also widely held in the late thirties.