Myth­buster – was the Stan­dard Fly­ing 12 re­ally aero-in­spired?

De­bunk­ing the most com­mon old wives’ tales

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - Giles Chap­man

1 IT’S AN AERO­DY­NAMIC BRI­TISH CAR

Un­til 1936, when Stan­dard’s range was trans­formed with ‘Fly­ing’ ver­sions of each model, cars from one of Coven­try’s stal­wart mar­ques had been up­right and old-fash­ioned. The Stan­dard Fly­ing Twelve and Six­teen, fol­lowed by the Nine, Ten, Four­teen and V8 in 1937, all fea­tured ap­par­ently stream­lined styling with a fast­back rear end, cur­va­ceous mud­guards, in­te­gral boots and raked-back lines to grille and wind­screen. In 1938, the whole range gained front grilles re­sem­bling flow­ing chrome wa­ter­falls for an even greater wind-cheat­ing im­pres­sion. How­ever, no proper aero­dy­namic the­ory or wind-tun­nel test­ing was used. The re­design work sim­ply copied Amer­i­can styling trends to mask in­creas­ingly old-fash­ioned chas­sis, all with side­valve en­gines.

2 IT CASHED IN ON AIR­CRAFT IM­AGERY

No, ac­tu­ally. The ‘Fly­ing’ part re­ferred more to the prom­i­nent Union Jack bon­net em­blem at the peak of the grille, which re­sem­bled a fly­ing flag, or stan­dard. The term was cer­tainly meant to make these fun­da­men­tally or­di­nary cars seem more dy­namic. Yet one styling fea­ture, a rear win­dow split in two as part of the grace­ful tail styling, ac­tu­ally made the car harder to drive be­cause it ham­pered rear vis­i­bil­ity. The £299 Fly­ing Twelve was a 1.6-litre fam­ily model in sa­loon or con­vert­ible for­mat. A Su­per Twelve of­fered foglamps and wind-tone horn as stan­dard.

3 IT WAS BE­HIND THE TIMES

Not en­tirely. The Stan­dard Fly­ing Eight of 1939 was the first mass-pro­duced Bri­tish car to use in­de­pen­dent front sus­pen­sion, and the Twelve fol­lowed suit. Nei­ther was very re­spon­sive, and both had all-me­chan­i­cal Bendix sys­tems that were out­moded by the end of the 1930s. How­ever, the Fly­ing Twelve and its sta­ble­mates pro­pelled Stan­dard’s an­nual sales to over 50,000 cars. The Twelve was also one of the first Bri­tish cars back into pro­duc­tion in 1945, and 10,000 were sold un­til the ad­vent of the Stan­dard Van­guard in 1948.

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