My Car Quest

May 28, 2024

Why Have Wings On Street Cars?

by Mike Gulett –

We all have different ideas about what we like and do not like in car styles. In a super car some of us like wings or spoilers on the back and some (like me) do not because they spoil the looks of the car. The wing on the back is designed to push the rear end down to improve traction on the rear wheels. In order for this to be important you have to be driving very fast in a turn. I do not drive a car on the street this fast in a turn no matter how powerful that car is.

Porsche 930 Turbo

In my memory ugly wings & spoilers started on street cars with the Porsche 930 Turbo

Porsche 911 GT3

Ugly wings continue on the Porsche 911 GT3

A wing generates downforce as air passes around it. So rather than decreasing drag, wings actually increase drag and reduce top speed. Both wings and spoilers reduce rear end lift using different mechanisms. Wings are airfoils designed to deflect air upwards and push the rear of the car down and they generally add quite a bit of drag. Spoilers block undesirable air flow and reshape airflow around the car. This can help keep the rear of the car down and decrease drag.

Neither wings nor spoilers have any positive impact on straight-line low-speed acceleration. Both are primarily intended to improve stability and cornering at high speeds. In other words they are primarily useful for race cars not street cars.

Lamborghini Huracan Performante

Lamborghini Huracan Performante

So, why do modern super cars designed for the street have wings and spoilers? If you really want a wing why not use automatically deployable and retractable wings or spoilers like the Porsche 911 or the Bentley Continental GT, and many other cars?

Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R

Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R

Why do we want aerodynamic features that we do not really need and that spoil the looks of a beautiful car? Why not consider the aesthetics of the car, achieve acceptable aerodynamics and keep the car beautiful?

I like the rear looks of this Ferrari below – no wing or spoiler. Notice the lip on the top of the trunk lid – better looking than a wing.

Ferrari 812 Superfast

Nice looking Ferrari 812 Superfast

I challenge car designers to make super cars without ugly wings or spoilers on the rear end because we do not really need them for street driving and they are almost always ugly.

Where do we draw the line between performance and speed (even when that speed is not needed) and beauty and elegance? This line has been crossed by many super car designs in recent years in favor of performance and speed to the detriment of beauty and elegance and it is a shame.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Lamborghini Huracan

Lamborghini Huracan

All photos compliments of Bring a Trailer.

Summary
Why Have Wings On Street Cars?
Article Name
Why Have Wings On Street Cars?
Description
I challenge car designers to make super cars without ugly wings or spoilers on the rear end because we do not really need them and they are almost always ugly.
Author

Comments

  1. Careful, you’re opening Pandora’s Box… Automotive design for fashion and vanity vs. purpose… and what is the real purpose given where the car can be legally driven in a responsible manner? Ransome Olds, Henry Ford and their European equals had a very wise and more utilitarian view of the car’s purpose and role early-on. Bill Durant and others of like mind saw differentiation, exclusivity and conspicuous consumption as marketing multipliers that tugged at emotions like ego and want, instead of mere needs and thrift. Add to that the allure of performance, competition and the desire for some to have the ‘best’ and others to know it, and here we are: why ARE there wings on street cars that can reach speeds well in excess of 2x to 3x the highest legal speed limits in a world where self-control is quite often in short supply, as is the talent needed to drive such machines.

    Anyway, always an interesting thing to think about since everyone will have an opinion and there is no right or wrong answer.

  2. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What one person finds attractive another finds in poor taste so be careful when you say that spoilers are ugly as this is just your opinion.
    If you do not want anything that has no practicality then get rid of flares, fat tires, low stance, fancy paint jobs etc, etc and drive a square box, and do not worry about people who like a dressed up car.

    • Boris, I thought I made it clear in the first 2 sentences of this article that this is my opinion and all readers may not agree with me, which is fine.

      I never said I did not want anything that was not practical – just ugly things that serve no real world purpose like wings on street cars. And if you have read My Car Quest long enough you should know driving a “square box” is not my thing.

      • Mike it was not my intention to insult you and I have read your posts for some time, but I was responding to your comments about “ugly”.
        The square box comment was intended for people who find wings and spoilers not to their taste, because when you remove all these items you are left with that exact same thing.

  3. Glenn Krasner says

    At least the spoiler thing started when I was a kid in the 1960’s with the Camaros, Firebirds, and Mustangs. And don’t forget the humongous spoilers on the Dodge Charger Daytonas and Plymouth Superbirds, so huge that the trunk mechanisms had to be redesigned! Glenn in Brooklyn, NY.

  4. Joe E Pray says

    I agree with you Mike!

  5. J. Baeke says

    Michael. Glad you wrote this column, and I completely agree. Here is where I thought you were going with this… with possibly the exception of exotics deep into the 6-figures… I seriously doubt any wing manufacturer (OEM or aftermarket) has ever spent $1 doing any sort of wind-tunnel design analysis. It is all purely bling for those with fanciful dreams of driving something somewhere requiring such major downforce. I think the most ridiculous example being the Japanese crotch rocket in the movie “Cars” with the 4 or 5 stacked wings.

Speak Your Mind

*