In 1995 Oldsmobile presented their Aurora, a car that was originally intended as a two-door coupe to replace the Toronado.
The origins of the Aurora go back to a 1989 concept car known as the Tube Car, one of Oldsmobile’s numerous designs inspired by aerodynamics. Much of the feeling of the Tube car is retained though the very straight sills are far from an aerodynamic ideal. The role of the Aurora was to help alter customers’ perceptions of the brand as being staid and rather dull and to distinguish it from the upper middle class styling that Buick had made its own. Despite the aerodynamic appearance, the Aurora’s cD was only 0.32, by some margin worse than Audi’s less obviously rounded 100 of 1982 which had a cD of 0.30.
Oldsmobile had a well-developed practice of producing quite futuristic and aerodynamic concept cars under the Aerotech name. In 1987, they showed the Aerotech II which could be viewed as a shooting brake or a kind of very spacey MPV with a clear monovolume shape. The contrast between this and the sorts of vehicles Olds sold is notable.
Going further back in time one can see similarities – driven by aerodynamic need – to the 1976 Pininfarina CNR-PF which notably has a single slope from windscreen to bonnet. It also features very deeply cut sills and a vestige of this can be seen on later vehicles, an effect usually obtained by adding plastic cladding around the wheel arches.
Oldsmobile is no longer with us as their attempts to muscle in on the market position occupied by Japenese imports failed. They did make some efforts though through their application of aerodynamics but were constrained in large part by the need to share body-shell architecture with Buick, Chevrolet and Pontiac. What is interesting is also the fact that this little excursion into the annals of car design shows that aerodynamic research was not solely conducted on the east side of the Atlantic.
For the record, here’s the Olds Aurora interior.