Rear wings on the rear of a car used to mean something and were placed there for a purpose. They were and still are used the help stabilize a car at high speed by creating down force, thus helping the automobile stick to the road.
About 20 years ago though something bad happened and things started to go south. Rear wings began popping up on everything from Honda Civics to the Ford Taurus. This was great for the newly emerging automotive aftermarket but horrible for anyone who actually knew what the wings were really used for.
As mentioned rear wings produce down force but don’t really begin to work until a car hits upwards of 70 mph. The effect of the down force literally pushes the rear end of the car down to keep it planted during high speeds. Rear wings can also, if improperly used create drag. This refers to forces that oppose the relative motion of an object through the air.
Think of it like this. Remember as a kid when you’d drive along with your parents and you’d stick your hand out the window? If you laid your hand flat the oncoming air would flow around it and you could move your hand up and down like an airplane wing. However, if you were to put your hand up like a stop sign it would be much more difficult to hold steady due to the wind hitting it and thus creating drag… get it.
Import guys love rear wings and they put them on everything. I suppose when purchasing them they convince themselves that the car will most certainly handle better and go faster because of the new four foot extension that now adorns their trunk. Most of us however know this to be false. I especially love seeing rear wings on front wheel drive cars, that always gives me a giggle.
What I’ve done here is compiled some photos of wings that were put on actual production cars, by manufacturers and that actually work. These guys spend millions of dollars on wind tunnel testing to make sure that they achieve the lowest drag coefficient possible for their models.
I’ve also included photos of wings that were installed by private individuals. I chose these photos because I truly believe that these buyers thought they were improving the handling characteristics of their vehicles by installing these wings. The manufacturers show us the right way, the private guys… well… just look at the photos and make up your own minds.