Even cars go through the awkward puberty phase.
Evolution is not always a nice process. Bodies tend to go through some strange and awkward changes in an effort to find out how to best make things work, just ask any teenager currently going through puberty. The thing about evolution is that it isn’t only limited to people, cars underwent the same awkward phases in order to get to their current aerodynamic and wallet-emptying designs. Some of these poor creatures had changes so gawky that they make braces look painless.
Of course, as much as we try to destroy any photographical evidence of those times, our friends and significant others eventually get ahold of the pictures and turn us into the same subjects of ridicule we thought we had grown out of. Luckily we have managed to dig up these embarrassing photos of the awkward outliers of the automobile world. While aerodynamics on cars is now as sexy as an intelligent supermodel, it wasn’t always that way. But just like time in the library was well spent for these nerdy people endowed with genetic beauty time bombs, cars benefitted greatly from their ugly phases. One of the best examples of this comes from Hungarian car designer Paul Jaray.
His experience designing Zeppelins (think Hindenburg, not the rock band) helped him to design some seriously weird cars. While they weren’t the most practical or driver friendly cars, they did manage to leap aerodynamics design ahead for all automobiles. Jaray’s first car, the Ley T6, was as corky as they come. It was very tall and narrow, which made it look like a fish with newly evolved land-traversing capabilities. A 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 20 horsepower was all that the slippery car needed for it to reach 62 mph. This was enough to convince a slew of manufacturers, including BMW, Fiat, Mercedes-Benz, Opel, Maybach, and Tatra, that streamlining was the way to go.
From here on out, the teardrop design became the go-to for aerodynamics. Out of this movement came the forward-doored 1936 Doubonnet Ford, the Saab 92 prototype, and the uber cool Bat 7 by Bertone. As with Keith Richards, the late 20th century and early 21st century did not stop the experimentation phase. The 80’s saw the creation of the Ford Probe, which, as its name implies, looks exactly like a sex toy. By the nineties, car manufactures were in hot pursuit of low drag coefficients in attempt to make production cars as fuel efficient as possible. Tightening fuel economy standards led General Motors to create the EV-1, one of the most aerodynamic cars ever.
The EV-1 was one of the first electric cars to be used in the real world, but battery technology of the time held longer ranges hostage. The result was that GM locked its engineers in a wind tunnel and let them out once they had achieved an ultra low Cd of 0.195. Other efficient aesthetic outliers include the 1999 Honda Insight with its drag-reducing rear wheel covers and the 2005 Mercedes Bionic. Even though each of these cars have looks that invoke pity, they served their purpose as testing beds that helped pioneer the sexy, functional, and ultra-fast supercars we have today.