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12 Cars That Were Way Ahead Of Their Time

In the 1930s, it seemed like no one in the automotive industry had ever heard the words “aerodynamic” or “efficiency,” but Chrysler sought to put an end to that. In 1934, they unveiled the Airflow, the first car to be designed using wind tunnel testing. It also utilized unibody chassis construction, a rarity at the time (via Hemmings).

Chrysler proved its performance bona fides at Bonneville, where the car ran over 95 miles per hour in a standing mile. Power was initially supplied by a 4.9 liter inline eight engine, making 122 horsepower. Three and four-speed transmissions were available, with coupe and sedan body styles (via How Stuff Works).

The Airflow had many of the styling trademarks of the 1930s, but stretched and pinched in various ways to eliminate drag. The public and press were initially wowed by its unique appearance, but when the time came to buy the car, business was slow. Like so many cars in this piece, the Airflow was simply too weird for its own good.

Chrysler attempted to pretty up the design in the following years, revising the grille and headlights. However, sales continued to slow, and the Airflow was canceled after the 1937 model year, with under 30,000 total sales. Chrysler would eventually be vindicated, as aerodynamic efficiency became one of the most important facets of modern auto design. In January of 2022, Chrysler also paid homage to the Airflow by putting its name on a new electric vehicle concept.

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