The wind cheater

By 1983, General Motors had already released the Aero X and Aero 2000 concepts which pushed the aerodynamic boundaries. The new Aero 2002 was even further refined in GM’s Warren, Michigan wind tunnel testing facility.

Drag coefficient (referred to by a “Cd” value) is a means of judging how aerodyynamic a shape is. The lower the rating, the better the shape slips through the wind. Designed under GM styling chief, Irv Rybicki, the Aero 2002 boasted a 0.14 Cd, the lowest of any car of its size tested by the company.


Modern Corvette and Volt undergoing wind testingTo put a Cd rating of 0.14 into perspective, a modern Chevrolet Volt (a case study in production-vehicle efficiency through aerodynamics) achieves a 0.28 Cd and a modern C6 Corvette, in its most aerodynamic form, achieves the same 0.28 Cd.

Granted, both Volt and Corvette are road-worthy, production vehicles and the Aero 2002 didn’t even have an engine. But considering the decades between the shapes, GM’s aerodynamic engineers were definitely onto something in the early eighties.

GM was proud enough of the Aero 2002 that it was displayed at Disney World’s future-inspired EPCOT Center (now known simply as Epcot). GM also ran featured ads about the concept touting in bold, capitalized print, “We’re the best GM ever.”

The ads went on to proclaim, “[…] we provide our designers and engineers with facilities, equipment and the latest technology. But most of all, we allow them freedom. To think, to reject old ideas and to come up with better ones.” The text continues, “Freedom means we can look beyond the bounds of what’s possible today. Right now, for example, we’re working with voice-actuated controls and computerized navigation systems, with speed-variable attitude adjustment, column-centered electronic instrumentation and aerodynamic body skins.”

Although the interior wasn’t Aero 2002’s key feature, the ads teased a technology-laden environment including digital instrumentation, along with pod and steering wheel-mounted controls.

General Motors’ Aero 2002 would ultimately lead in to the 1984 Chevrolet Citation IV concept car which was basically a modified, running version of the Aero 2002.

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