Cars & Vehicles Auto Racing

How to Design Aerodynamic Cars

    Basic Design

    • 1). Reduce the front cross-section (vehicle size when viewed from the front). No matter what else you do to a car, its aerodynamic drag is determined by how much air it has to push out of the way. You can achieve a minimal frontal cross-section by bringing the car as low to the ground as possible, keeping the hood low and making the roof no higher than it needs to be to accommodate the driver's head.

    • 2). Shape the sheet metal of the car to be as close as possible around the mechanical parts and driver. Treat the driver's head, the engine and the tires like a skeleton around which you can shape the car's skin.

    • 3). Make it sleek. If you were to cut a football in half (lengthwise), you'd wind up with a shape with a flat bottom and a bulge in the center that tapers to a point at both ends. Now, imagine this shape is your car when viewed from the side. In the world of car aerodynamics, this "half-football" is the ideal shape; the long front taper helps to speed air over the car and the rear taper keeps that air from whipping around behind the car and creating drag.

    • 4). Make it smooth. Aside from a small front cross-section, smoothness is the most crucial factor when designing an aero-efficient car. Surface irregularities like mirrors, door handles, trim pieces, rear wings and even small gaps between body panels will all create drag. Although no one protrusion will contribute much to drag, added together these minor inefficiencies can create quite a lot.

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