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Ask Slashdot: Why Did It Take So Long For Cars To Become Aerodynamically Shaped

Published by Slashdot on Sun, 19 May 2019


Here's what dryriver wondered after hearing that the oldest Porsche T64 in the world -- built in 1939 -- was going to be auctioned:What stands out about this nearly 80 year old car is how curved and aerodynamically shaped it is. If you then Google 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s car images, you find that they are nowhere near as aerodynamic in shape. It took a while before production cars started to appear en masse that had a nicely-curved aerodynamic body, and before Bezier curves were invented, which allowed early CAD software to produce precisely curved designs. Why did it take so long for cars to become more curved if aircraft of that time already had aerodynamic curves and the benefits of an aerodynamically shaped land vehicle were also known' Was it an issue with actually manufacturing curved cars in great numbers below a certain cost level, or did the automotive industry simply not care about the aerodynamics of their vehicles for a long time' Long-time Slashdot reader MightyYar blames cheap gas, arguing that "When gas was nearly free, there was little incentive to make vehicles aerodynamic." (He also complains that "When they did go aerodynamic, they all started to look the same -- as there is an optimal aerodynamic design for a box on wheels so every designer with the same cost constraints and design tools will converge on that.") Z00L00K adds that "Until the 1930's aerodynamic drag wasn't really an issue for vehicles because the top speed wasn't that high and the roads didn't really permit high speeds either." Long-time Slashdot reader Martin S. believes "Styling for public tastes beat aerodynamics except for outright race cars. Fuel efficiency has only become the primary driver with the rising number of cars, pollution levels in our cities and climate change." But are there other pieces to the story' Share your own thoughts in the comments. Why did it take so long for cars to become aerodynamically shaped'Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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