In the early days increased power outputs of sportscars resulted in higher top speeds. As speeds rose so too did instability. Automotive engineers realised that they could restore stability with aerodynamic aids – knowledge borrowed from the aeronautical world. Many cars have sported spoilers or wings over the years. In more recent times moving aero pieces have allowed engineers to make cars aerodynamically efficient at any speed thereby removing the need for fixed wings. Supercars such as the Ferrari Enzo, Lamborghini Aventador and Pagani Huayra all eschew wings for cleaner lines. Perhaps the golden age of “wings” is behind us. With that in mind I present to you My Favourite Rear Wings. All of these were available as you see them or as factory-fitted pieces. I have kept away from racecars or any aftermarket jobbies.
This has to be my all-time favourite rear wing. It’s large enough to make even Subaru STI owners feel wing envy. The Superbird was Chrysler’s solution to go oval racing in the 1970s. The nose cone and long body endowed the car with a slippery shape. That cartoonish rear wing was there to create stability. Powered by a V8 motor that measured over 7,5 litres the Superbird could reputedly top 200 mph… in 1970! and on radial tyres.
This is one car that is almost universally loved by petrolheads. Regardless of brand bias everyone loves the Countach. The original Marcello Gandini shape was beautiful and did without a rear spoiler but increased power levels in later years necessitated added downforce. Adoption of the optional device robbed the car of 16 km/h in the top speed department but probably extended the life expectancy of owners. It didn’t hurt that the Countach’s wing was shaped like an aerofoil from a jet fighter – cool.
Porsche 911 (930) Turbo
Of all the Porsche’s with “tails” this one is my favourite. The original 911 Turbo’s whale tail helped combat the natural lift tendencies of the Beetle-esque shape. More than that it had a functional aspect in providing fresh air for the intercooler. Later 911 models have vents in the fenders ahead of the rear wheels to cool the supercharged air.
Just look at it, it suits the car so well. It is completely integrated with the Kevlar body and even has the name embossed in to the end plates. The F50 that followed took a similar cue and when the Enzo wore no rear spoiler it looked almost naked. Best part is that the F40 is so low the wing is ideally placed to keep your designer shades, gloves and helmet when parked in the pits at your local track.
This list just would not be complete without one or two rally-bred monsters. Subarus are well-known for their rear wings and of all the models this is my favourite. The 22B’s wing isn’t as gargantuan as some later models but it does suit the car extremely well and reduces rear ward vision at the same time. Subaru used rallying as an exceptional marketing tool selling the cars that were being raced all over the world, with great success, that fans of the marque could go out and buy. And of you think that those wing were purely for show check out this video which show what happens when a rally car loses its wing.
Ford Escort Cosworth
Before Subaru even cut their teeth in world rallying another rally car boasted some pretty impressive aero gear. The Ford Escort Cosworth (or Cossie for those in the know) had a wing that was so large and so high that it couldn’t even be used as a convenient drinks holder. As far as extreme wings go only the Superbird seems to have the Cossie beat.
Mercedes-Benz C63 Coupe Black Series
I know that there are several other worthy cars that could be included here but the C63 Coupe Black Series is just too good to resist. A C-Class with a tea-tray bolted on struts over the boot is just as loony as this insane car. More than that, seeing a modern car with a fixed wing gives me hope that, perhaps, we haven’t seen the last of these aerodynamic addenda. Maybe, just maybe there will be more wings to come over the years, even if they are a rare sight confined to limited edition models and the subject matter of silly blogs and bar-room chat between petrolheads.
Here are some of my other favourites: