In the 1930s, Chrysler experimented with aerodynamics to deliver a product that could slip through the wind better than the vehicles of the day, bestowing upon the public the Airflow. Alas, not too many people were ready for the future, leaving the concept a commercial failure.
Today, Citroën is giving the name and concept a second try, with fuel economy and the environment in mind.
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The second best part about the job of writing about cars is not getting to drive expensive cars for free or being flown to resorts with Jacuzzi tubs. No, the second best part about the gig is that I get to see and do some very cool car guy things. How many of you have watched film or video of a car being tested in a wind tunnel and thought to yourself, “that’s neat!”? Well, this week I got to observe the new 2015 Ford Mustang’s aerodynamic features demonstrated in one of those neat wind tunnels. (Read More…)
Gordon Buehrig’s design of the Cord 810/812 was revolutionary for its day. One innovation was that it lacked running boards, something automobiles had featured almost since the dawn of the motoring age. I’m guessing that the origin of running boards has to do with the fact that in the early days car bodies were typically mounted right on top exposed frame rails, putting the body up high, and the running boards were used as step to get up into the interior. From a design standpoint, they also visually connected the front and rear fenders, creating one flowing line. What was stylish in 1913, though, wasn’t necessarily au courant in the mid 1930s. Also automotive design started getting more formally established in the 1930s, with GM and Ford both having in-house design staffs by the end of that decade. Based on the then young science of aerodynamics and the related streamlined aesthetic, new shapes started appearing on cars. (Read More…)
Never forget: people make all the difference. This often overlooked fact in the glamorous world of automotive styling rings true for the life of Mr. Uwe Bahnsen. I froze in my tracks when I heard of his passing on Car Design News. His work at Ford and with the Industrial Design community influenced me, and every American who loved cars in the 1980s.
How ironic that Mr. Bahnsen’s passing was the week TTAC’s own Ford Sierra passed its citizenship test in Texas: so here’s a great Germanic-Texas Beer for you, Mr. Bahnsen. (Read More…)
TTAC commentator educatordan writes:
I know this is an exercise in mental masturbation but I find myself thinking about it and perhaps the B&B with their extensive experience could shed some light on the subject. (Read More…)
Do you think that cars have lost their soul? Nina Tortosa, General Motors aerodynamicist for the Voltec/E-Flex programs, says that cars look more and more alike because “we all have to abide by the same laws of physics. It doesn’t matter if we don’t like them,” Nina Tortosa told WardsAuto.
Mere mortals have to contend with two certainties – death and taxes. Car designers are faced with a third one: Cd, or the drag coefficient.
[Note: A significantly expanded and updated version of this article is here]
For most of the fifties, sixties and into the early seventies, automotive aerodynamicists were mostly non-existent, or hiding in their wind tunnels. The original promise and enthusiasm of aerodynamics was discarded as just another style fad, and gave way to less functional styling gimmicks tacked unto ever larger bricks. But the energy crisis of 1974 suddenly put the lost science in the spotlight again. And although historic low oil prices temporarily put them on the back burner, as boxy SUVs crashed through the air, it appears safe to say that the slippery science has finally found its place in the forefront of automotive design. (Read More…)
This 1965 Falcon Futura first caught my eye, not the Prius. But seeing them jowl-to-cheek gave me a dramatic lesson in how far car aerodynamics have come. Well, at least in common everyday cars. The Tatra T77 of 1934 still has this Prius’ Cd of .25 handily beat. The Falcon? Who knows; probably around .50 or so. But this semi-fastback roof on the Falcon was the hot new thing when it came out on the 1963.5 Fords, specifically to help the big Galaxie on the high speed NASCAR tracks. (Read More…)
[Note: A significantly expanded and updated version of this article can be found here]
That air presented the greatest obstacle to automotive speed and economy was understood intuitively, if not scientifically since the dawn of the automobile. Putting it into practice was quite another story. Engineers, racers and entrepreneurs were lured by the potential for the profound gains aerodynamics offered. The efforts to do so yielded some of the more remarkable cars ever made, even if they challenged the aesthetic assumptions of their times. We’ve finally arrived at the place where a highly aerodynamic car like the Prius is mainstream. But getting there was not without turbulence. (Read More…)