DRIVE!: Out of drag

Aerodynamic cars are sexy and fuel efficient — as Detroit has long known


CASEY WILLIAMS  | Auto Reviewer

My stylishly fabulous friend from Paris once said, “These are the most uncomfortable shoes ever, but they are Prada.” My partner and I, on the other hand, have become patrons of Cole Haan, purveyor of kicks that are well-made and beautiful but as comfortable as sneakers. With or without a label, style and functionality can go together — especially with automobiles.

Chrysler built a wind tunnel by 1930 and enlisted the help of Orville Wright to explore shapes that would slip through the air more easily. They discovered cars of the time would have gone through the air more easily driving backwards. The result of their work was the Airflow, from 1934 to 1937 an art deco masterpiece that employed streamlining and elegant curves not fully appreciated until the Ford Taurus debuted in the mid-‘80s.

Given the abysmal sales of the Airflow, American automakers wanted no part of engineered styling, choosing instead to splash on chrome and fins. However Germany learned. The VW Beetle and Porsche 356 were influenced by the Airflow’s underlying engineering, and the Audi 5000 and Mercedes from the late ‘70s and ‘80s relied heavily on wind tunnel testing, giving them a timeless style that still doesn’t look dated. Recently, the quest for better gas mileage and battery range pushed aerodynamics forward.

Bugatti’s million-dollar Veyron supercar is one gorgeous hunk of carbon fiber and stays grounded at 268mph with the help of a rear spoiler that raises and pivots automatically. Active aero should be expected on a car of this pedigree, but it is also becoming commonplace on fuel sippers from America, Japan and Korea.

AIR APPARENT  |  Engineered cars allowing wind to move in a path or least resistance have been hallmarks of Mercedes-Benz, above, for decades, and make the million-dollar Bugatti Veyron, top, road candy for the eye.

AIR APPARENT | Engineered cars allowing wind to move in a path or least resistance have been hallmarks of Mercedes-Benz, above, for decades, and make the million-dollar Bugatti Veyron, top, road candy for the eye.

Designers focus on how the car greets new air, where the air flows around and under the chassis and the amount of turbulence-causing drag occurring as wind soars over the rear of the vehicle. A sleek front, smooth undersides, streamlined mirrors and clean break at the tail optimize efficiency. That’s why you are now seeing flat edging at the rear of vehicles, smaller spoilers, fluid mirrors and very tall decklids. The look is most extreme on the Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius.

Cars do not need as much grille cooling the engine at higher speeds. To help cars slip through the air, and get the 40 miles of electricity-only driving some promise, automatic shutters close and divert air around the vehicle. They are included on the Kia Optima Hybrid, Ford Focus SFE, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Chevy Cruze Eco, Volt and Malibu Eco. It works: Cruze Eco achieves 44-MPG in highway driving without a hybrid system; the “lightly electrified” 2013 Malibu Eco will achieve 38-MPG. It’s safe to say no cars since the Airflow were fussed over so thoroughly to both look good and go smoothly through the air.

You can easily see the attention to aero on a sedan like the Camry, but the Camaro ZL-1 is special. GM’s Tom Peters and his team went overboard to make sure the hood vents increased downforce, but were also sculpted out of carbon fiber. Ground affects and a subtle rear spoiler were engineered for performance, but styled to be beautiful, like a linebacker who stays tan and smooth with sharp attire.

Any aerodynamicist worth their smoke wand can make cars slippery. Real talent comes from designers who can also make them beautiful. Cars of all types and prices prove designers can pen shapes that are sexy out of drag.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 11, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

DRIVE!: Drivers seat

Reality TV star (and gay gearhead) Drew Ginsburg stays in the family business — and has two rides to show for it

TWO RIDES ARE BETTER THAN ONE  |  Drew Ginsburg divides his road time between two cars sold at his family’s dealerships: A VW Beetle, left, and an Audi A6.  (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

TWO RIDES ARE BETTER THAN ONE | Drew Ginsburg divides his road time between two cars sold at his family’s dealerships: A VW Beetle, left, and an Audi A6. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

As the lone gay member of the cast of the recently ended reality show Most Eligible Dallas, Drew Ginsburg had to be both fabulous and a gearhead — not exactly the stereotype of the gay man. But his love affair with cars has left him admittedly (if justifiably) snobby about autos — his family does, after all, own a number of car dealerships, and working in the family business means knowing a whole lot about them.
Oh, and don’t ever call him A-list.

— Rich Lopez

…………………….

Name and age:  Drew Ginsburg, 30.

Occupation:  I handle marketing for the Boardwalk Auto Group, including Boardwalk Audi in Plano and Park Cities Volkswagen on Lemmon Avenue. We’re the longest continuously owned and operated dealer in Texas and we feature Volkswagen, Audi, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Porsche.

What do you drive?  I’m open to driving multiple cars but they all belong to the dealership. Right now, I drive either a VW Beetle or an Audi A6.

That’s variety. How do you choose?  It just depends on what’s going on, but usually if it’s business, I drive the Audi; the Beetle is for casual stuff.

Do you have a permanent car?  I’m still waiting for my Porsche to come in. It’s the new Porsche 911 Carrera in white with black interior. It will be here in January. It’s a very sad time right now without a Porsche. I have no sports cars to drive.Your taste in cars is very A-list (zing!):  But I’m not A-list, far from it. I don’t think so, anyway. Are you talking about the show?

Umm … No? So, how are A-list vehicles compared to yours?  They all drive Hondas and BMWs, but I don’t think they know anything about them.

What’s the sexiest thing about a ride?  Usually it’s the acceleration and sometimes, just the design.

Speed driver or grandpa?  I’m a speedy driver. My driving style has been described as sex.

Hmmm… can you pick me up at work today?  [Silence.]

What was your first car?  It was a two-door Chevy Tahoe. I got it when I was 16.

Favorite road trip story?  Once I drove from Dallas to Newfoundland with a college buddy and then back to our home in Vermont. It’s my favorite because I was just this young college guy having a new experience.

Two guys, one vehicle: Nice. What are the rules of your car?  That depends. I was out with a Lamborghini and my roommate got mad that I wouldn’t go to Starbucks for him to get a drink.

Where is your fantasy drive?  I’d like to conquer the Autobahn again. It’s all about driving in Europe. I’d love to drive around Spain and take a trip to the California coast.

What’s in your music player?  It’s loaded up with either Spotify or Pandora, but I’ve been listening to Rihanna’s “We Found Love” a lot and David Guetta’s “Titanium.”

Where do you park when you go to Wal-Mart?  [Laughs] I just park at the end of the lot.

Are you a car snob?  Yes I am, but not about the price tag. I am when it comes to the design and makeup of the car. There are great cars for less than $30,000 and not so great ones for more than $120,000. Some people just buy for the emblem.

Like $30K millionaires?  Exactly! They wanna buy a luxury car but can’t afford it. It’s just for brand.

What should everyone know about cars?  Well, if you buy yourself a Saab, you’re retarded — it’s phasing out. And paying cash doesn’t necessarily mean the best deal. And most dealers don’t rely on the Kelley Blue Book because we’re using real-time market insight. Every car has idiosyncrasies and we have to look at those.

What’s it like being famous now?  It’s been a fun experience and I’m just taking it in as it happens. I don’t think of myself like that, but I’ve gotten to meet more people. It’s been a fun ride.
Pun intended?  Sure.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 11, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens