Cars, Curves, Angles and Airflow


Cars, Curves, Angles and Airflow

Car models progressed from a rectangular design to a semi-circular design to a semi-square-circle design. Japanese car brand, Toyota, demonstrated the progression of these designs and one could see the changing designs when going outside and spotting Toyota cars. However, not only Toyota obtained these designs, but from GM to Ford to many other brands- the car designs continue to evolve.

What makes square designs from semi-square-circular designs so different from each other? The answer lies in the thought behind the designs themselves. In the 19th century when the cars were first invented, there was little or no thought to the safety and stability of the car, over 100 years of car evolution, many engineering accountabilities were created that became incorporated into today’s modern car designs.

One of the main ideas that allowed the designs to change from square to semi-circular to semi-square-circular is the airflow around the car’s body. When you are situated outside and watching cars drive by on the road the airflow is invisible to the naked eye; however, the airflow concept can be better understood if it is compared to the water flow. Air behaves in a similar way as water and is considered to be a form of fluid, hence there is a simple experiment that can explain the concept a bit further; fill up an aquarium with water and take two shapes, one with sharp edges and another a small ball. Take one shape at a time, place it into the water and push on the object making the object gain speed.

The smooth object will glide through the water easier and smoother than an object with sharp edges. Just like in an aquarium experiment, the angular car design causes more eddies at each peak, making the car sway sideways. The car with oblique curvature design allows the air to flow around the car’s body and cause eddies just behind the car, making the ride smoother. The same test was done on cars, but in a more complex way, where the car is placed into the wind tunnel and the air is being pushed to the speed of 80 km/h and higher. Different computer sensors and detectors collect information and allow engineers to calculate and analyze the stability and safety of a particular car design.

One of the first cars that came out with a curvature design, rather than an old rectangular design was Chrysler. It was in the 1930s, when engineer Carl Breer, came up with a new car design. After careful observation of military plane maneuvers, Breer and the engineering team built a wind tunnel to test his new car designs. Chrysler was the first car made out of steel and its angles were now curved into a smooth air streamline design. The new design was different from many other car brands since Ford and other car companies made their cars out of wood-not steel. In the 1930s, the technology was not as innovative and problems with welding occurred during the manufacturing of the new Airflow Chrysler model.

Many new designs were more successful and the particular new sleek car design was seen in Volkswagen and Toyota. Throughout the history of cars, car designs evolved from simple horse carriage designs with a built-in engine to sophisticated sleek streamline designs to rectangular designs, and the semi-circular-rectangular with curvature designs and still continue to evolve.

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