Theme : Aerodynamics – Spoiler Alert!

Why do they do it?


Some things, as they say, do just what it says on the tin. To my mind, the rear boot excrescence is generally well named. There are some exceptions but, generally, if a car’s designed right, it shouldn’t need an add-on. And, if it does, what about those poor buggers in lesser variants who can still get within 20 kph of the bespoilered version. Are they safe?

Incidentally, I’m well aware that you could nit-pick and point out that, if the air can flow underneath the appendage, it is more correctly termed a ‘wing’ than a ‘spoiler’.


Short-lived, the Sierra XR4i sported a real boy racer job on 2 levels. This might have been for homologation purposes but, on a rare occasion, a manufacturer had gone too far. It’s 4×4 replacement was far more subtle.

Carrera RS

Where would Porsche be without its spoilers? They are so loved they have names. Here are just three – the ‘ducktail’, the ‘teatray’ and the ‘whaletail’. Spot which is which.

Turbo Tea Tray

Turbo Whale Tail


It’s hard to condemn the Plymouth Superbird. The wing was supposedly there to provide groundforce for Nascar racing, mounted high to keep it in undisturbed air. Or was it just big for publicity purposes and to allow the trunk to open so that you could display a whole rack of vintage driver’s overalls at your local car boot sale.


One of the better PSA Citroens, the Xantia was a good looking if conservative shape. Pay more for the VSX version and you got this. It looks vaguely as if it was styled for the car but I’m sure you could have got something similar from Ripspeed for a fraction.

Countach LP400S

The Lamborghini Countach was never a favourite of mine. So the fact that many owners specified the stupid looking rear wing option doesn’t disappoint me. They did it for two reasons. To give it much needed high speed stability or because they had no taste. Or most likely both.

Avenger Tiger

Not to be outdone by its Plymouth cousin, in 1972 Hillman launched the Avenger Tiger in the UK. With 20% of the power of the Superbird, the spoiler could afford to be a bit lower.

Thema 8.32 A

Although Lancia’s real days of glory were behind them, the Ferrari V8 engined Thema 8.32 showed they still had discretion, with a spoiler that stayed hidden unless at speed. Unfortunately, these days they tend to get stuck in the up position, and it was the worry of not being able to fix that on an otherwise excellent sounding version for sale that put me off even going to see it.

Alfa 156

Taken as being one of the best looking saloons ever, Alfa Romeo offered this option on the 156, presumably for those who wished to demonstrate their disdain for vanity by self disfigurement.

SONY DSCFor those of us who think that spoilers are just a conceit, the original Audi TT is a lesson. Its original clean form was cluttered by this hurriedly designed item, fitted following reports of high speed accidents through instability.

BMW CSL Batmobile

The BMW CSL ‘Batmobile’ was another homologation special which, if you specified a road version, arrived with the wings in the boot to do with as you pleased.

Chrysler Crossfire

The Chrysler Crossfire is another rounded rumped vehicle that probably needed a spoiler at speed, so was fitted with this pop-up item.  It rose at 40 mph, helpfully signalling to anyone following that you were going too fast in a 30 mph limit.

4 thoughts on “Theme : Aerodynamics – Spoiler Alert!”

  1. I always found the spoilers on late model Volvo 240s very amusing. Towards the end of the eighties the GLT found popularity in Dublin, usually in metallic grey or red. I can´t imagine they made any difference.
    My own car, the 1989 Citroen XM, has a spoiler, which I resent. I think a only very small minority of the series lacked these despite all the sketches, models and pre-production models being clearly spoilerless. I´ve only seen two unspoilered examples (and without grommets). The Series 2 had a much reduced spoiler and so more closely followed the ideal of the concept. I presume this car actually did need some help to manage airflow at the tail. The car had a cD of 0.28, by the way, markedly better again than Audi´s 100 and streets ahead of Oldsmobile´s Aurora of six years later, a car ostensibly designed with aerodynamics in mind.

    1. I was thinking of totally inappropriate spoilers and completely forgot the one on the 240. There was also one on the back of the Skoda 130, but Skoda bashing is really so démodé these days, don’t you think?

      I remember sneering at the pretentions of the Avenger Tiger at the time – both names and appendages – though I might rather like it now. No I don’t I’m just falling into that cheesy 70s nostalgia it’s-so-bad-it’s-good thing.

  2. Ah, the Plymouth Superbird. The sheer audacity of that spoiler! The Hillman Tiger’s is thoughtfully tied in with the graphic. And I do believe you are being terribly unfair about the XR4i spoiler.

    1. Chrisward. Away from the rigorous objectivity we aim for at DTW, I‘d probably admit to a soft spot for the XR4i myself, though I was commenting more on its failure to win the hearts of its intended purchasers with just a 2 year run The problem is that a spoiler as elaborate as that does suggest something with a bit more than 150 bhp.

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