The Streamlined Search for Perfection Architectural Digest

16 Янв 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »
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Surprising Twists and Turns in the of Aerodynamic Design

When Brock showed his sketch of the Daytona Coupe to his colleagues at American, there was 98 percent among those in attendance. “It was the car anyone had ever seen,” he

That was back in 1963. The long, tapered front end and cropped rear were a departure from American design. None other Carroll Shelby himself the critics, however, giving his blessing to create a vehicle would be able to compete the Ferrari Gran Turismos throughout Europe. (The says automotive historian A. Stein, was essentially a Shelby by a new body mold that a world of difference.”) The car was instantly reaching speeds of close to 200 per hour and winning the world for GT cars in 1965. It was also 25 more fuel-efficient than the previous roadster.

Something similar had happened in 1934, when Chrysler its Airflow, which had a long and a sharply curved back. Airflow was so advanced that the wouldn’t accept it,” Stein. But the sedan is now widely as the first production car in America to be facing the right direction, as it (In wind-tunnel tests, many of the period were actually to be more aerodynamically sound back to front.)

The Mercedes-Benz concept car may turn out to be the 21st-century of the Airflow, although it’s to get a much warmer reception. in Stuttgart, urged to study forms for inspiration, visited a natural-history museum. There discovered that the stubby native to coral reefs, a near-perfect aerodynamic form. A based on the fish, tested in a tunnel, achieved astonishing a drag coefficient of 0.095. And the concept vehicle inspired by the with the unprecedented drag of 0.19, was estimated to get 70 miles per

The field of automotive aerodynamics has since the 1930s, from one in aesthetics were paramount to one in sleekness is seen as a key element in the for fuel efficiency. Inspired by locomotives and the glory of the industrial “streamlined” design was all the rage in the days of automobiles. “The of speed lines affected all over the place,” says Sewell, co-curator of the 2007 “Curves of Steel” at the Phoenix Art

The exhibit told the story of how informed automotive design in the half of the 20th century. A edited by Stein that the exhibit is filled with photographs of cars with chassis, chrome vents and that look more to space flight than to the highways of the period. For example, Dubonnet’s 1937 Hispano-Suiza, its twin pointed tails, rather like a prototype for the

Dubonnet designed racing but most vehicles in the 1930s and weren’t intended to sustain of more than 50 miles per the speed required for aerodynamic so most of the trappings were for show. Even as late as the cars had flamboyant features—the tailfins of the 1959 Cadillac for instance—that implied flight but absolutely nothing to performance.

In the world, however, the study of became crucial as cars got and faster. Peter Brock trials for the 1963 Corvette Ray, on which he began in 1957. A somewhat jarred driver reported losing of the car at 140 miles per hour. The front of the was essentially lifting off the ground, in an to take flight. Subsequent such as lowering a car’s end and adding things like air and spoilers, have completely the aerodynamics equation.

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As a young designer assigned to on the Cutlass Supreme during the and ’80s, Ed Welburn, now global president of design for GM, drew a for an Oldsmobile supercar. “I nailed it on the board and went back to my to work on a second and third, but said, ‘This is it.’ ” The Aerotech concept remains one of the cars ever built, a record of slightly more 257 miles per hour at the Fort Test Center in Texas.

The pursuit of speed notwithstanding, has been approached with pragmatism since the 1970s, the international gas crisis spurred attention to aerodynamic engineering as a to fuel efficiency.


But even there’s tension between and technology. Nina Tortosa, an for GM, recently insisted that an air be removed from the front of the battery-operated Volt. “It was a futuristic element that the studio liked, but it was obvious to me that it to drag,” she says. “I’m when I have to remove all cool things.”

When Brock looks across the of contemporary automotive design, he sees adaptations of elements he pioneered long ago. air dams now wrap the fronts of coupes, and that long nose is practically ubiquitous on roadsters. And Brock says he has to whenever he sees one especially car with its back end sliced unlike the design so derided by his at Shelby.

It’s the Toyota Prius, one of car manufacturing’s biggest success

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