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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.

It was no doubt this BMW Motorsport Parts & Accessories catalogue which fuelled my dreams…

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!

With spoilers of this proportion, there’s arguably no reason whatsoever to caricature them in cartoons. They’re caricatured sufficiently in real life…

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…


6 Responses

  1. YrHmblHst

    Agreed wholly – ‘ski jumps’ as you term them are de rigueur for cars of the era, and maybe plenty that arent.
    Couple of things… The Camaro tails shown are actually the second design – the 70 and early 71 being smaller – and actually have a bit of an interesting story behind them. But what really grabbed my attention was the lead photo; talk about a rarity! In fact, you can darn near start a fist fight amongst serious Poncho People over those. There is quite a bit of ‘discussion’ whether any were ever factory installed, as opposed to dealer add. Whatever the answer they were about like hens teeth bitd, tho someone is repopping them now, albeit at a cost that will make your eyes water. Still, They are undoubtedly cool ; when I had my 72 GTO a few years ago, I was donating plasma regularly trying to save for one… Sold the car before I got the part, but if another 71-2 Pontiac A body ever comes my way again, that will be the first thing I do.

    [oh…and to answer the question – yes, I had one on my E30 BMW 3 series, my Firebird and I guess youd count the one on my Alpine sorta. For purposes of this discussion, the whale tail on the yellow 911 probably doesnt count.]

  2. Anders Bilidt

    HaHa… @yrhmblhst, it’s a treat having you here on ViaRETRO, as I too learn something new every time I include American cars in an article. Really wasn’t hoping to start a fist fight though – just thought the GTO looked fab with that vast ski jump stuck to the back of it… ;-)
    But remember that by the time BMW had introduced their E30, they had also become somewhat more subtle with their rear spoilers. I mean, it’s still a cool thing, but it’s a lot smaller than the Motorsport item on the E21 – and for that matter the E12. You’re Alpine definitely qualifies! Whereas the 911 whaletail really justifies and article all of its own…

  3. Claus Ebberfeld

    I honestly never thought of the rear spoiler on my Alpine A310 as a ski jump.

    On the other hand that term really resonates with the huge spoiler on our RX-7 Elford Turbo, @anders-bilidt – now THAT is a ski jump. The fact that it is NOT rubber to my eyes only underlines it – a ski jump is white, isn’t it? Photo below:

  4. Claus Ebberfeld

    Oh, come to think of it my old CRX had a pretty cool spoiler of the exact rubbery type of your fetish, @anders-bilidt : Photo below.

    I actually thought its relentless liniarity suited the car quite fine: The designers of the CRX used a ruler here and there too.

  5. Anders Bilidt

    @claus-ebberfeld, you’re of course right – the Elford RX-7 rear spoiler is just about perfectly shaped for a ski jump. It’s also almost large enough for a real human being to don his skies and actually ski down it!!

    Love that CRX you used to own… :-)

  6. Michael V8

    The ski jump on a DB6 is definitively factory built, but on the other hand not detachable either….. rgds. M


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