We’re already two thirds through December and rapidly approaching a fresh new year. Before we know it, New Year’s Eve will have been and passed, and some of us will be nurturing our hangovers from having seen off the old year with one or two too many fancy cocktails. That almost feels like tradition, and many countries seem to also have their own traditional way of treating those painful 1st of Januarys. Back home in Denmark, it’s become the norm to spend that first day of the year on the sofa with plenty of water and random junkfood while watching New Year’s ski jumping from Garmisch-Partenkirchen in South Germany where they’ve held this event annually since 1953.
Ski Jump! Well, besides those daring men and women who launch themselves off a manmade ramp only equipped with a pair of planks strapped to their feet and then take flight for several heart-stopping seconds, the words “ski jump” always make me chuckle as they remind me of something quite different.
Several years ago now, besides my deep passion for all things BMW 02, I also got involved with the successor – the first-generation 3-series known as the E21. I owned two of them, and especially one of them I had big plans for. Bearing in mind that I was a young and impressionable kid up through the eighties, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that I have a bit of a fetish for rear spoilers. However, not the big wings which hover somewhere above the bootlid. If you try hard enough, you’ll probably be able to come up with one or two where I’ll at least admit that they suit the car they’re on. But on the whole, I tend to find that they are just a bit too much and a bit too nineties. No, for me the rear spoiler needs to be the big, fat, rubber type spoiler which hugs the whole width of the bootlid’s trailing edge. And as with most things fetish, the general rule is: The bigger, the better. So naturally I managed somehow to find and purchase a perfect example of the ultra rare BMW Motorsport rear spoiler for my E21.
To the untrained eye, the Motorsport spoiler might look largely like the ordinary rear spoiler which BMW would sell you for your E21. But it wasn’t! For the fetishist, they were worlds apart. For starters, the Motorsport spoiler extended all the way down to the lower edge of the boot lid. More importantly though, the Motorsport spoiler was HUGE! It was the quintessential ducktail spoiler of the very late seventies and early eighties, and I was the proud owner of this amazing piece of kit. As one would expect, I obviously presented this fabulous aerodynamic aid for my best car-buddies to marvel at. They gathered around in awe over the size. A very close Swedish friend of mine then dryly muttered that it wasn’t a ducktail at all – this was a ski jump! Ever since that moment, that group of friends who were present have continued to refer to these massive rubber spoilers as ski jumps.
In some weird twist of fate, I actually never got to mount the BMW Motorsport ski jump to the bootlid of that E21. Suddenly I had sold the car, but I was so attached to the spoiler that it remained in my spares lock-up despite not having a car to mount it on. I really loved that spoiler! Then last year – having not owned an E21 for more than a decade – I finally gave in and sold it. Ironically, to the same Swedish friend who had christened the spoiler all those years back.
But there are of course several other equally impressive ski jumps out there in the automotive world of retro aerodynamics and not least styling. The Japanese were particularly good at offering these ski jumps for various sporting Toyotas, Datsuns and Mazdas. The stock JDM rear spoiler on the 240Z is a truly iconic design, but my personal favourite has to be Toyotas rear spoiler for their first-generation Celica. The Yanks had a go at this exercise too and came up with plenty of excellent downforce inducing ski jumps. The one available for the AMC Javelin is about as proud and upright as any spoiler will ever be, and I’m equally quite a fan of the one that lives on the back of an early second-generation Camaro Z-28. The way it extends down the sides of the rear wings make it look extra purposeful and gives it a look all of its own. Another German offering of epic proportions is of course the ski jump which offered more rear-wheel traction to the hard-charging Opel Ascona B 400. But while I have yet to come to any highly scientific conclusion here, I’m fairly convinced that the biggest of all the ski jumps has to be the one which Ford strapped to the rear of their brutal Ford Capri RS3100. Now that’s a proper ski jump!
But what say you dear ViaRETRO reader? Do you share my fetish or are these massive rubber or fibreglass spoilers but an eyesore from a luckily bygone era? Should you find them as cool as I do, which is your personal favourite? Perhaps you have even owned – or still own – a classic car with such a ski jump? If so, please do share a picture in the comments below!
I’m also happy to announce that once my ski jump watching activities of the 1st of January have been seen to, this coming year will have me enjoying all the glory of my latest ski jump purchase. So I might never have driven my E21 3-series with that BMW Motorsport spoiler attached to it… But I have just dropped off my Reseda Green metallic first-generation 1981 E12 BMW M535i at a workshop, which will see to the final jobs required in order to bring her back to the road after a rather long slumber deep within a barn. Needless to say, I’m well and truly excited! Watch this space…