myth buster

De­bunk­ing the most com­mon old wives’ tales

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week -

1 THE AIR­FLOW WAS AERO­DY­NAMIC

This is ac­tu­ally the weird­est mis­nomer about this car. Chrysler engi­neers were said to have tested 50 scale mod­els of the Air­flow in the wind tun­nel they built at the com­pany’s Detroit base, and yet the full-size pro­duc­tion car had a drag fac­tor, or co-ef­fi­cient of drag, of 0.541. That’s about the same as a boxy Mercedes-Benz G-Wa­gen, and only slightly bet­ter than a pos­i­tively brick-like Hum­mer H2 at 0.57. Not only that, but Chrysler was forced into pay­ing $5000 to Paul Jaray, af­ter the aero­dy­nam­ics bof­fin sued the firm for infringements of his patents.

2 IT WAS ONE OF THE MOST EX­CIT­ING NEW CARS IN 1930S AMER­ICA

That de­pends on how you view things. Chrysler wanted to pro­duce some­thing as iconic and ad­ven­tur­ous as its Art Deco Chrysler Build­ing HQ in New York to cel­e­brate its 10th year in the car in­dus­try. The prob­lem was that the car-buy­ing pub­lic didn’t like it. They started out in sus­pi­cious mood about the rad­i­cal stream­lined shape and its lack of an up­right ra­di­a­tor grille. Then, when word got out that there were prob­lems with the welded body struc­ture, front sus­pen­sion, and en­gine mount­ings, the al­ready low sales took a nose­dive.

3 SO IT WASN’T VERY IN­FLU­EN­TIAL, THEN?

Fun­nily enough, al­though the Air­flow was a mas­sive flop for Chrysler, shortly af­ter it van­ished the Lin­coln Ze­phyr was launched, which was only slightly less rad­i­cal look­ing. In ret­ro­spect, the Air­flow did blaze a trail that other car­mak­ers fol­lowed, and its de­sign was, in fact, closely mim­icked by Volvo for its cur­va­ceous Car­i­oca, and also by Toy­ota for its very first car, the AA. Both copied the Air­flow’s faired-in head­lights and bee­tle-backed shape.

no 11: Chrysler air­flow

is it a Volvo, is it a Toy­ota? Nope, it’s the rad­i­cal chrysler air­flow of 1934.

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