And it’s entirely retro, authentic and honest, cheap as can be, highly effective, and the whole operation can be completed by anyone in less than an hour. Read more here:
There are plenty of enthusiasts who insist on modifying – or tuning – their classic car. Of course there are also those who modify their not so classic car. If we allow ourselves the assumption that they do so in order to drive faster, then today’s top tip will be something for them. Or you – or whoever it is that modifies…
Because it really does work. Admitted, it doesn’t do much for acceleration and it does absolutely nothing for cornering speeds. But that all important piece of data which used to rule in a good game of Top Trump is what it’s all about: Topspeed! And it’s not even just hearsay or some fancy idea I whipped up on a Friday morning where I could think of nothing better to write about. It really does work. In fact, even the car manufacturers have utilised it themselves to great effect.
In essence it’s all about aerodynamics. That mystical black art which it took the automotive industry quite a while to crack. While sporadic experiments were initiated as far back as the thirties, it really wasn’t until the seventies that it truly broke through to the ordinary family car. Truth be told, we probably even have to enter the eighties before it started to get really exciting. The Audi 100 and Ford Sierra were launched almost simultaneously and in terms of aerodynamics they both achieved impressive results – but through two rather different approaches.
The Ford Sierra’s body was shaped significantly closer to the aerodynamic ideal of a water droplet than had previously been seen for a mass-produced family saloon. If memory serves me right, it was noted for having a drag coefficient of 0.34. In comparison, the Audi 100 had a much more conventional saloon shape but was instead optimised in the smaller details such as flush-fitting side windows, integrated door handles and similar. Surprisingly, it’s drag coefficient of 0.30 made it more aerodynamic than the Sierra. You wouldn’t have guessed ot by merely looking at the two.
All of which brings us towards to today’s tip which is simply about optimising the aerodynamic details of your classic car. Or youngtimer of course, as it works on both. Ready? Here it is: Simply tape over every gap in the bodywork.
The truly brave will even consider reducing the amount of air let into the engine bay. Just don’t get carried away here, as depriving your engine from air could reduce the amount of power the engine can produce, which in itself would obviously have a negative effect on your goal. Furthermore, don’t forget that your engine also requires cooling, and this is typically achieved with fresh air spilling over the engine. There are of course other ways of achieving this, but I think we will leave “Tuning with Dry Ice” for a later article.
The more extreme tape artists have even been known to tape over entire wheel arch openings, which again can be highly effective. At this stage though, we are getting awfully close to the physical limitations of tape, as the newly created surface also needs to be reasonably stable. That can be somewhat tricky to achieve if creating complete spats from a roll of tape.
Essentially it’s just applying the Audi 100 theory to your own classic car: Take an ordinary or common body shape and then optimise all the details. The topspeed of any classic or youngtimer will benefit from this Friday’s easy and straightforward tip. DIY Aerodynamics. Perhaps something to entertain yourself with over the weekend? If need be, you can obviously combine your tape tuning with other types of modification. The most obvious could be a lowered suspension, as this allows less air to pass below your classic car. Or how about other wheels and tyres? Just remember that if you’re trying to run the needle of your speedo, it’s narrower tyres you want, not wider. At this point though, we’re probably well beyond the one hour tuning exercise.
Should you end up taping something wrongly or just regretting the whole thing, then it’s also nice to know that this specific type of modification is easily and quickly reversed. I recommend using a wide, clear tape. Not professional duct tape as it will typically leave patches of sticky adhesive on the paint of your classic car.
I wish all our fellow ViaRETRO readers a strong tailwind out there highways…!