The Wind Doesn’t Care

03 November 2022

‘It’s not incredible that so many cars look so similar. It’s incredible that cars look different at all.’

I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult to distinguish the various marques; apart from the more outrageous hypercar or two, they all look very similar.

Many factors determine the shapes of motor cars; interior space, luggage space, safety regulations and engine positioning, but over and above those factors, the motor car design is for aerodynamic efficiency.

There is always an awkward conversation between the car designer and the aerodynamic engineer, who proclaim their understanding of the other’s point of view. At the end of the day, the wind doesn’t care about the motor car’s appearance; it will carry on, causing problems.

‘The most aerodynamically efficient shape for a vehicle is, in theory, a teardrop. A smooth silhouette that will minimise drag, and the profile, if correctly configured, keep airflow attached to the surface rather than breaking free and causing turbulence.

In 1972, Pininfarina built a wind tunnel, which now seems old hat when one considers the computer-aided airflow analysis to which we have now become accustomed.

But long before this, Battista’ Pinin’ Farina, AKA: Battista Pininfarina, was an Italian automobile designer and the founder of the Carrozzeria Pininfarina coachbuilding company who had an appreciation and respect for the importance of the wind effect, as can be seen in his 1936 Lancia Aprilia Aerodynamica.