One of the things I love about aerodynamics is that little changes can make big differences too. It obviously reflects similarities to what Porsche was working on with his early developments that led to the Volkswagen. It had a mid-engined W6 engine, and four wheel independent suspension using swing axles which Rumpler patented. Neil, It had a mid-engined W6 engine, and four wheel independent suspension using swing axles which Rumpler patented. History & Evolution of Aerodynamic In CarsCar design in 1920:- In the earlier times aerodynamics was not a factor as the cars where traveling at very slow speeds, but with increase of speeds it is necessarily for cars to become more streamlined, which resulted in smooth design and almost all corners of car are rounded off . Perhaps not very “mainstream”, but the SAAB 93 of the late ’50s claimed a Cd of 0.29. Do aerodynamics engineers now have more influence on the development of electric cars? please e mail me. . American Brands: AMC, Jeep and All Others, Tractors, Lawn Mowers, Off-Road Equipment, Automotive History: An Illustrated History Of Automotive Aerodynamics – Part 1 (1899 – 1939), http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/an-illustrated-history-of-automotive-aerodynamics-in-three-parts/, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurel_Persu, Curbside Capsule: 1989 Chevrolet Caprice – Please Pass The Margarine. The compact Tatra v570 of 1933 (above) is the forerunner of both the larger Tatras soon to come, with its obvious Jaray influence, but not a licensed Jaray. The aerodynamic efficiency of a car's shape is measured by its co-efficient of drag (generally known as its Cd figure). Here are some clays from about 1933 or so, showing the development of both the smaller VW-like v570 on the right, and the larger streamliners in the rear. But even with all the advancements in safety we have on our modern automobiles, this would likely be a tough accident to walk away from. The evolution of aerodynamics for LSR cars was remarkably rapid, as this Stanley Steamer Rocket of 1906 evidently shows. I’ve wondered since I was a child why cars don’t have dimpled surfaces like golf balls. But still a stunning design. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Great research on so many vehicles. But I think it’s strikingly beautiful, in some sort of Scandinavian art deco way. I have read that the perfect aerodynamic shape is that of a teardrop, with the blunt end leading. Anyone with about 6 minutes to spare ought to watch this Youtube video which promoted the safety of the Airflow. You’re quite right. The history of automotive aerodynamics The first vehicle to break the 100km/h barrier was the Jamais Contente (Never Satisfied) and it was all-electric. You have done again Paul. The evolution of aerodynamics for LSR cars was rapid, as this Stanley Steamer Rocket of 1906 evidently shows. The mainstream industry forgot because the mainstream public did not care. Later ones than the ones pictured. Look foward to the new series. A much more radical approaches to streamlining was Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion. Thank you Paul. Can’t be much of a coincidence, I’m guessing. Progress is not always linear. When a Gallon of Benzene was under 50 cents in Canada , what are the incentives to use small engine, especially a lot of distance in N America needs to cover in a hurry. Also, I’d very much like one of those Lincoln’s please…good restorable condition is fine. I go to a fellow E28er’s get together. A pre-war luxury Panhard, check. Multhopp designed the P.183 and is famous for his T-tail designs. The mainstream industry forgot because the mainstream public did not care. The ideal streamlined form was described in 1804 by Sir George Cayley as “a very oblong spheroid”. The first Paul Jaray car looks very top-heavy – I think it would topple over if it went around a corner at any speed! But the German Wikipedia says (in Google translation) “The aerodynamic design, however, the impaired driving safety of the car and made it strong Schlör susceptible to crosswinds.”. The Tropfenwagen’s influence in racing cars was much more immediate and lasting. If I had a V8 powered bug when I was a kid, I prolly would not be here now. His approach was influential, and numerous companies used Jaray licensed bodies during the streamliner craze that unfolded in the early thirties. The result was a striking Tatra-like car, with great detailing (e.g. The resemblance of the production KdF Wagen to Tjaarda’s 1934 prototype, especially certain details of the front end, seem like a bit too much of an accident. Another lesser-know variation of the popular Ford V8 engined aerodynamic vehicles was this Dubonnet Ford of 1936, whose very slippery body allowed it to reach 108 mph. Unfortunately, the Benz Tropfenwagen was not an instant success and when Daimler and Benz started to cooperate (and later merged), Mercedes got in charge of all the racing efforts, effectively scrapping all Benz & Cie designs, so the Benz Tropfenwagen never got the attention and further development it deserved. •!The shape of a falling drop of water was considered to be aerodynamically perfect. I have not attempted to survey the broader influence of aerodynamics on the styling of cars in the latter thirties and up to WW II. Still, we could learn well from the simplicity of these designs…, http://www.amazon.com/Streamline-Era-Robert-Carroll-Reed/dp/0870950533. I have no memory of encountering any reference to it before. Racers, particularly those chasing the coveted Land Speed Record (LSR), were generally the first to employ aerodynamic aids. That air presented the greatest obstacle to automotive speed and economy was understood at least intuitively, if not fully scientifically since before dawn of the automobile. Thank you for the excellent history lesson. Until the gas went nutso over the roof, and the same time the credit crunch happens, quickly changed peoples’ driving habit. Unlike the impractical and heavy Castagna Alfa, the Rumpler was as dramatically different (and influential) for its completely integrated and original design and engineering. Tesla Model 3 Elon Musk's electric cars are already breaking the mold, but they're also some of the most aerodynamic cars on the road. It’s important to remember that the Cd is a coefficient, and denotes the relative aerodynamic slipperiness of a body, regardless of its overall size. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. One of the first full width pontoon cars. Citroen DS racing car, check. I often wondered how much better the coefficient of drag was for the “grille-less” Crown Victoria than for the redesigned ones that had a more traditional grille. As this 1934 prototype for an American rear-engined sedan by John Tjaarda shows, the Europeans weren’t working alone. As with most questions asked on the internet, the Mythbusters have that one covered. According to Paul Schilperoord, who’s written about Josef Ganz, http://www.ganz-volkswagen.org/, Porsche, Ledwinka, and the European automotive scene in the 1920s and 30s, the patent dispute between Tatra and what became VW mostly had to do with the design of air-cooled horizontally opposed engines. Why did they make these? When I was a kid of about 10, my grandmother bought me a book on the history of Chrysler. Airbags would burst forth to protect you. 2017 BMW 5 Series EfficientDynamics Edition – 0.22 Cd. This is probably how the car could fall end over end off a cliff and then drive away without even any broken glass. At the time anyway, the lowest cd was an experimental mercedes that was designed after a fish. Very beautiful streamlined bodies that also incorporated advanced engineering. Built on the chassis of the rear-engine Mercedes 170H, it was substantially faster as well as 20% to 40% more fuel efficient than its donor car. The first in a two part series looking into the F1 aerodynamic evolution. If only Poland hadn’t treacherously attacked poor defenseless Germany in September 1939…, what about this? It represents a state of aerodynamic efficiency in league with the most aerodynamic prototypes today, such as the Aptera. That air presented the greatest obstacle to automotive speed and economy was understood intuitively, if not scientifically since the dawn of the automobile. Wow, this is a terrific piece of work! One of the regulars is a guy who is a native of the town where Tatras were made. the door hinges). Mercedes (above), Opel, Maybach (below), and numerous other makes, primarily German, built special streamliner versions using Jaray bodies. It was one of the first mid engined race car and with it’s aerodynamic design, it looks a lot like the Auto Union Type C which had its debut a full 12 years later. It also explains the journey of cars from its initial phases to modern supercars and how aerodynamics … It appears I’ve been answered. That earned it the nick name of “the Czech secret weapon”. I admire Baruth’s style and POV (anti-journosaur), though not his choice of car brand (Audi, Porsche), or colour (s-lime green, anyone?). A dimpled surface would decrease pressure drag but increase friction drag, so it may or may not be a benefit, depending on the shape of the vehicle. Keep up the good work! Therefore, the designers devote an enormous amount of effort taming the airflow and generating downforce – just as their predecessors did, when this quest first started 35 years ago with the first wings of the Formula 1 cars… It certainly appears to have sophisticated cooling vents (on the sides just behind the front wheels and the slots on the hood), and it had a full belly pan, too. Given below is the brief description on F1 history. I look forward to the next installment. http://members.chello.nl/j.baartse/carpics/venusbilo.jpg, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volvo_Venus_Bilo. Not surprisingly, there was no legal conflict in using the name. Apart from the development of tyres, it is the aerodynamics which offer the best potential in Formula 1 for winning a few decisive tenths of a second. The same approach is followed in India, even today. In person they are very nice looking cars. The Airflow had the same basic configuration as American cars from the late forties and early fifties. This, combined with a wider body, dramatically improved interior space and accommodations. Other, more exciting design avenues were pursued. The first of these, the T77, arrived in 1934 (below): The T77 was measured to have a Cd of .212, a number that was not broken by a production car until GM’s EV-1 of 1995, which measured 0.195. Chris Raber Although the visual cues are not really as significant as they might appear to us now, because these were the leading-edge design elements of the time, and widely imitated or shared, on both side of the Atlantic. Jaray only addressed the aerodynamics, not the complete vehicle like Rumpler had. The pictures bring it to life, and I appreciate your efforts here (as well as in other fine series I’ve seen here since discovering the site). Vintage Snapshots: Exploring the Southwest and Mexico in a 1953 Ford, Curbside Classic – 1958 Chevrolet Delray Two Door Sedan, eBay Classic: 1957 Plymouth Belvedere Sedan – Fairest Among Ten Thousand. All the pictures I have see (the four I linked to) appear to be scans of a newspaper, unfortunately. It was a start, but others were taking up where Rumpler left off, like the English Burney, below: Obviously more Rumpler influenced and less by Jaray, the 1930 English Burney featured a then-radical rear engine and also four wheel independent suspension. The Schlörwagen is a great example of this problem; its instability was the primary reason for its lack of success. The Zephyr had one, and it was a success, despite not being nearly as a good a car as the Airflow. Charts and Analysis: Big Three Full Size Car Market Share, 1955-1984 – Did Quality Sink Chrysler After 1957? Of all the cars, two stood out. I’ve just seen the new Metropolis version with the original footage from 1927 that has been missing till now…they used lots of Tropfenwagen in order to create a futuristic look for their city…and it still works (they even burned one…I almost cried). I think I have spotted the remains of an Airflow in a field outside of Dallas; need to study it closer; and if correct, take pictures of it. Managed to have some fun in technology class with a homemade wind tunnel (from a scrapped gas furnace) and some balsawood cars. One of the most influential and lasting designers of the whole era was Austrian Hans Ledwinka. His early designs tended to be bizarrely tall, and with questionable proportions and space utilization. Added basic lip sync, eye movement and animated black board drawings. Ever. To put the nascent field of automotive aerodynamics in perspective, the typical two-box car of the twenties was more aerodynamic going backwards than forwards, as this ass-backwards DeSoto proved in tests. Don’s have the resources available right now but it was a vehicle sort of like a short van with a rounded face and a lip at the top rear. Aerodynamics has played an important role in car racing since the late 1960s, when introduction of It represents a state of aerodynamic efficiency in league with the most aerodynamic cars being considered today, such as the Aptera. The first cars were made before the Wright brother’s era and before the invention of wind tunnel tests. Great article, but it should have included another few noteworthy production cars. through the flow. After all, the energy used to overcome air resistance cannot be recovered – unlike with vehicle acceleration. http://www.maybach.de/images/263_2.jpg Agreed- this is great stuff! I can’t get enough of these kids of articles right here. The Tatra seems to have been the commercial design closest to the ideal during this era. I love the streamlined cars of the 30’s, especially the Tatra. The evolution of aerodynamics for LSR cars was rapid, as this Stanley Steamer Rocket of 1906 evidently shows. Cars were made to LOOK aerodynamic, but, until the oil shortage of 1973, nearly nobody cared about efficiency, and it’s only fairly recently that enough of the public expect it, and the industry has to deliver aero. I always thought GM should have taken the EV1, emptied the battery pack and motor and just added as small Tdi like found in modern VW Bluemotion Polo. The compact Tatra v570 of 1933 (above) is the forerunner of both the larger Tatras soon to come, and obviously of the Volkswagen. Even though the ancient scholar tried to define the field, actually the qualitative … Racers, particularly those chasing the coveted Land Speed Record (LSR), were generally the first to employ aerodynamic aids. Re: the Dymaxion car: I remember Bucky Fuller telling me that, on one test drive, when a cop hollered at him to get that thing off the road, he opened the window, put his hand on the cop’s head, and steered a circle around him before driving away. As engine development began producing diminishing returns, designers turned their focus on aerodynamics. [Continue to Part 2]. Bring a Trailer just highlighted a Tatra. Needless to say the influence was profound, and gave us some of the most remarkable cars of the late classic era. Early “aerodynamic” cars tended to utilize “teardrop” form and rear engine configuration. Granddaddy sold Chryslers in New York in spring/summer, then drove a company car to Palm Beach to sell them there each winter, and knew Walter Chrysler. I too look forward to the rest of the story. My grandparents never owned a home. Flush windows, more aerodynamic mirrors, and smaller grille openings can make huge differences. That would not be bettered until 1924, and not until 2009 for steam powered vehicles. Another one you might want to check on as an American example would be the Auburn Boat Tail Speedster of 1929 and the succeeding models through the early thirties. I have another car that you could include; the 1939 Maybach Stromlinien Karosserie (aka Stromlinienkarosserie), which was a car that was made to do high speed tire testing: http://www.maybach.de/images/263_1.jpg The unintended result tended to be a very directionally unstable vehicle. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurel_Persu. air flow theory. And about as much crumple zone too. I’m particularly fond of the Stout Scarab mention with its early minivan layout, making it a vehicle far ahead of its time on not just one, but two fronts. We all need Muscle power, anything smaller than 400 cu ins is kind of considered not quite a car. I recall reading that due to a mathematical miscalculation, the Airflow’s structure was roughly twice the strength required for the application. That was too much of a break for the symbolism still engendered in the remnants of the classic car prow. Aerodynamics is a branch of dynamics concerned with the study of the motion of air. His designs eventually became more mainstream, and Mercedes, Opel, Maybach, and numerous other makes, primarily German, built special streamliner versions using Jaray bodies, like this Mercedes below: The limitation of these cars is like the Castagna Alfa, they were re-bodied conventional cars with frames, front engines and RWD. Putting it into practice was quite another story. Aviation engineer William B. Stout designed this extremely roomy mini-van precursor using a unitized body structure and a rear Ford V8 engine. Aviation engineer William B. Stout designed this extremely roomy mini-van precursor using a unitized body structure and a rear Ford V8 engine. Formula 1 teams fight to have the most aerodynamic cars, athletes wear skin tight lycra and cyclists wear skin suits so tight that they need assistance just to put them on. It also explains the particularly strong interest and adoption of streamlining in Germany, where these early VW prototypes (VW 30) are shown being tested. Aerodynamics is the science of airflow over airplanes, cars, buildings, and other objects. The ’57 300, and the Airflow. The Rumpler was relatively very aerodynamic, but it was also quite tall and boxy, which resulted in the one hundred or so production cars being used primarily as taxis. I just realized how much the Jaray Mercedes resembles a Citroen DS. road car. Very, very interesting Mr. P. Niedermeyer. A remarkable achievement, the long-tailed T77 was powered by a rear air-cooled V8, and began a long series of Tatras until the 1980’s along similar lines. But this had relatively more to do with style (and even affectation) than a genuine effort to push the envelope in terms of leading edge aerodynamics. As such, the Airflow predicted the same basic body packaging configuration as American cars from the late forties and early fifties, even if they weren’t so aerodynamically designed. My info is that it had a Cd of 0.16, and it could go 150mph with a 150HP engine. Metal would twist and tear. It become a formula, resulting in look-alike cars. Boutique cars with Figoni/Falaschi tear drop bodies like Delage, Talbot, and Delahaye are my favorites. An essentially pragmatic approach, the Airflow also kept the traditional front-engine RWD configuration, but made some significant advances in terms vehicle design by pushing the engine further forward over the front wheels. I know, making the occupants the size of midgets was the thing back then. That was too much of a break for the symbolism still engendered in the remnants of the classic car prow. I still read TTAC from time to time, though not as frequently as I used to. An introductory approach to define the principles of aerodynamics, which guide the technology of cars. It would cut down on the shiny gleamingosity of a new vehicle, but wouldn’t it help its aerodynamics? I’ve amended the text, as well as dozens of other typos and grammatical slips I failed to catch in my haste to run out the door this morning. And the increase in speed was even more dramatic: the Rocket broke the 200km barrier, with a run of 205.44 kmh (127.66 mph). It is a sub-field of fluid and gas dynamics, and the term "aerodynamics" is often used when referring to fluid dynamics The first known attempt at streamlining a passenger car is this Alfa Romeo from 1914, built by the coach builder Castagna for the Italian Count Ricotti. Where to stop? The first was built in 1932, and several more variations, a total of nine, were built in the mid thirties, but series production never got off the ground, due to an asking price almost four times higher than a Chrysler Imperial Airflow of the times. Undoubtedly, the real breakthrough aerodynamic passenger car was the German Rumpler “Tropfenwagen” (teardrop car) of 1921. However, I’ve been a read-only user of TTAC for a long time, and CC since inception. during this period majority of the work was done on reducing … Since seeing that backwards DeSoto I’d been wondering whether to ask Paul to run his Auto-Aero-history piece here. Hungarian-born Paul Jaray used his experience working in the aeronautical field, especially designing Zeppelins, to develop a specific formula for automotive aerodynamic design principles that lead to a patent, applied for in 1922 and issued in 1927. Sorry, no quick link. The “Dymaxion” name brings to mind a gas analyzer I helped to develop some time ago, by the same name: http://www.ceb.uminho.pt/labs/reequip/MS_58305_64351.jpg Search for “Mythbusters Clean Car vs. After he took over as chief design engineer at the Czech firm Tatra in 1921, he developed the basis of a series of remarkable Tatra cars and eventually streamliners with platform frames, independent suspensions and rear air-cooled engines that were profoundly influential, and essentially set the template of what came to be known as the “streamliner” and influenced cars around the globe for years to come. A fascinating read – it’s a coffe table-sized book with lots of text – not only nice to look at but nice to actually read, too. The commentators there were, well, eager to lump everything into Libs vs Dems vs Reps vs younameit; that put me off. Of course, Americans’ introduction to streamlining had come two years earlier in 1934, with the stunning Chrysler Airflow. 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