Aerodynamics and Streamlining – By Design
The 20th running of the EyesOn Design automotive exhibition presented yet another unique theme for 2007 and once again drew over 200 quality entries in 15 categories to the picturesque Edsel & Eleanor Ford Estate in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan. Held annually on Father’s Day for the past several years, this car show is like no other I know of. Multi-million dollar restored Ferraris and Talbot Teardrops aren’t the usual highlights at this show since the cars aren’t judged on their rarity, famous lineage or restoration value but instead on their overall design and impact on the automotive world and the chosen exhibition theme. Take for instance last year’s Best in Show winner; a moderately restored Oldsmobile Toronado.
EOD themes have varied significantly over the years and include “International Design”, “Performance”, “The Salon Experience” and the “Art of Design” to name a few. This year’s “Aerodynamics and Streamlining” theme had some spectators shaking their heads in confusion. Don’t those two words mean the same thing? To clear up this debate, Aerodynamics are the characteristics of the vehicle design that help to keep the car tight to the road, whereas Streamlining refers to the design factors that make the vehicle look like it could fly through the air like a bullet. You can certainly have one quality without the other. Take for instance a couple of current examples. The Ferrari Enzo is one of the most aerodynamic designs ever produced for the road, but can’t compare to the streamlining traits of the latest Ford Mustang GT500. The Mustang looks like it will eat you up with its aggressive front end and fastback style, whereas the Enzo will just blow past you without a second glance.
With a broad spectrum of classes, some beautiful oldies appeared in the “American Classics 20’s & 30’s” class. A pair of LaSalle’s, a brilliantly bright blue Marmon, some Pierce Arrows and several Packards were all fine examples of early aerodynamics but it was a faultless Pierce Arrow 1240A Convertible Coupe owned by Tom Lyon that took class honors. The “Fabulous Fastbacks” class from the late 30’s through to the early 50’s included some classic American models like the Nash Ambassador, Buick Roadmaster and Hudson Commodore. Possibly the epitome of the early fastback definition was found on the exceptional Stout Scarab. This cab-forward design was driven by a rear-mounted Ford flathead V8 and came from the vivid imagination of William B Stout who at one point was designing aircraft. Fittingly, this futuristic minivan owned by Larry Smith took honors in its class.
The traditional nose forward arrangements of a classic car show such as this was just that; too traditional. The “Fins Gone Wild” class was lined up with the rear ends facing the crowd since that was their most prominent feature. The late 50’s and early 60’s were crazed with high tailfins and distinctive taillights. Notable entries included a Packard Hawk, Dodge Custom Royal Lancer, the infamous Chevy Impala, and a class-winning Chrysler 300F owned by Don McCullen. The tail-out layout continued through to the “Return of the Fastbacks” class of the 60’s and 70’s with a Buick Riviera, Ford Cobra and AMX among others.
Returning to the Aerodynamic side of the coin, the “Aero Muscle” class included a pair of high-tail legends; a Dodge Daytona and Plymouth Superbird. These two NASCAR-inspired muscle cars sported the highest spoilers available. Their high wings were designed to be out of the way of the trunk lid and although appearing to be quite functional, were only aerodynamically useful over 90mph. The “Aero Sports” class was a truly international collection and spanned over 30 years of timeline. A Corvette Roadster, Datsun 280Z, Arnolt Bristol, Triumph GT6 and Alpine Renault proudly sat alongside the class-winning Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Speciale owned by William Mihalic.
Celebrating its 50th Anniversary was the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham. Originally conceived as a Motorama Concept and built to be the ultimate luxury vehicle, the Brougham encompassed the latest styling trends and technological innovations that are still considered luxuries on today’s vehicles. Full self-leveling air suspension, central power door locks that automatically locked the rear doors while in motion and power memory seats were some of the special features. This $13,000 vanity statement even came with a bottle of Arpege Extrait de Lanvin perfume. Ten examples were on display in a special class for its anniversary.
The recipient of the 2007 Lifetime Design Achievement Award was Marcello Gandini. This Italian-born designer replaced Giorgetto Giugiaro at Bertone in 1965 and went on to design masterpieces at Lamborghini such as the Miura and Countach as well as the Lancia Stratos and Alfa Romeo Montreal. As an independent designer he continued with Lamborghini to create the Diablo and also penned the original BMW 5 Series, and exotics Bugatti EB110 and Cizeta Moroder. A Gandini-designed Fiat X 1/9 and a number of Lamborghinis were on hand including an Espada, Jarama, Countach and Diablo.
A new group added just last year, the “Traditional Hot Rod” class once again wowed the crowd with some extraordinary customizing work. Most of the entries began their life as an early Ford and one in particular sported parts from many different cars, and in this case, airplanes as well. Tom Carroll drove five hours to EOD in his Douglas airplane inspired Ford Hot Rod to show spectators what wild and crazy things run through his mind.
Aerodynamics in racing cannot be discussed without mention of Jim Hall. His Chaparral race cars were the most progressive and advanced of their time, utilizing active spoilers to achieve a more balanced use of downforce. The Chaparral 2H and a Continuation Series 2E were on display to help visitors better understand the development of aerodynamic aspects used throughout racing and on many road cars of today.
EOD focuses mainly on cars but for several years now has also included at least one Motorcycle class as well. While Ultimatecarpage.com is ‘car-driven’ it’s always worthwhile to peak into two-wheeler history. An excellent group of vintage bikes lined down the center of the show ranging from a single cylinder 165cc two-stroke Harley Davidson Topper Scooter to the curvaceous MV Agusta Disco Volante Supersport. Keith Hogland’s streamlined Velocette Thruxton Veeline took class honors.
EyesOn Design, like most other high-quality car events benefits a well-deserving charitable organization; The Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology. In President Philip C. Hessburg, MD’s own words “The DIO created this exclusive event to support their goal of helping persons now blind recover hope, joy, self-worth – and ultimately, some form of useful vision.” While the show field is judged by automotive design professionals, a small group of visually-impaired judges are also choosing their favourite design, purely by touch. This year’s winner of the Visionaries Award went to Ed Micol and his customized Auburn Boattail Speedster.
The EOD weather was ideal this year and it appeared as though the Lake St.Clair mayflies performed their short-lived migration a few days prior to the event, leaving the spectacular cars and motorcycles free of unsightly blemishes all day long. The panel of judges led by Glen Durmisevich, Event Chairman Marcus Shelley and Honorary Chairman Chris Theodore used their knowledgeable design insight to choose a deserving Best in Show recipient, and once again did their jobs well. Greg Bilpuch has brought many cars from his fine collection to EOD over the past several years and graciously accepted the 2007 Best in Show trophy in his pristine Cord L-29 Cabriolet.
Once again, EyesOn Design clearly showed the thousands of spectators why it’s quickly gaining more recognition in the car show world every year. Vehicle owners, committee members, my father, and public alike all agree: “What better way to spend Father’s Day Sunday than at a car show like no other.” Click here
to get your eyes on all the highlights that were lined up for EyesOn Design.