100 Cars That Changed History

tn_29-1934_Chrysler_Airflow_sdn_-_blue_-_fvl1934 Chrysler Airflow sdn – blue – fvl” by Rex GrayFlickr: 1934 Chrysler Airflow sdn – blue – fvl. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.


29. Chrysler Airflow 1934-1937 United States

A true trendsetter, the Chrysler Airflow was the first car to take aerodynamics into consideration, and the first to use streamlining in the design process. The idea for building a full-sized automobile that was sleeker and less susceptible to air resistance, came from Chrysler engineer Carl Breer. While the source of Breer’s concept is contested, his research concerned how vehicles shapes help them move through the environment. With the aid of Orville Wright and a team of Chrysler engineers, Breer used wind tunnel tests to help him determine the most efficient shape for a vehicle. The desire for a better handling car led to their scrapping of the traditional two-box frame in favor of a unibody frame, and the development of an innovative suspension system. In addition, the engine was moved back towards the front wheels, and the passenger seats moved up so the rear passengers were within the wheelbase. These features made for a better handling vehicle and a much safer vehicle, as this designed fared better on hazardous road conditions.


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