1980s Car aerodynamics

Car design in 1986 was notable for the use of technology for both manufacturing and product, but from a styling point of view, the development in aerodynamics had many advantages too. Along with improved fuel economy, the improved airflow suppressed noise, made cars more stable and therefore improve traction and speed. Handy points for the marketing department to pick up on, thus making the Cd figure a further asset to selling the car. Less resistance through the air was tackled by smaller frontal areas but careful design details on the windscreen, underside and even hubcaps all factor into the ‘slipperiness’ of a car. Initially bigger cars were the main benefactors of decent Cd factors, with longer bodies creating less drag but the decade saw marketed improvements in all car sectors. The series of equations, which are fairly straightforward to calculate in a wind tunnel and a basic grasp of Excel, changed the design and dynamics of car styling forever.

The Honda Accord in 10th is a surprise, beating the Sierra which recorded 0.34.

The Astra B GTE /Kadett E GSI was helped by the body kit on a wind-cheating teardrop-shaped body.

The Lancia Y10 was one of a few small cars featured, helped by flush fittings and an inclined windscreen.

The Audi, along with the Sierra were instrumental in offering the Cd factor in part of the everyday motoring jargon.

The Peugeot 309 is a surprisingly slippery car, which was partly due to the development work of the ‘Vera’ concept car.

The Subaru XT employed a wedge-shaped which was helped by the flat-four engine design and unique rubber spoilers before each wheel well.

Renault had gone all out in making their panels as flush as possible, with the notable absence of a grill engine air intake giving the 21 a commendable figure.

The W124 Mercedes is also another surprisingly efficient design, thanks in part to the undercarriage plastic moulding.

The most Aerodynamic car of 1986 was the Renault 25. At the time it was launched as ‘the world’s most aerodynamic mass-production car’ and the brand was rewarded with decent UK sales figures, largely due to the favourable fuel consumption.