When Enough Is Too Much


Rolling down the road the other day  I spotted a small compact car with an Indy car size spoiler on it. It already had a factory “spoiler” on it so I surmised the Indy style spoiler was added later. I thought back to the days of my youth and can just imagine I would have thought this was a good idea as well. Two is better than one right? Right (said with a hint of sarcasm) , but an Indy style spoiler  on a car with a maximum top speed of probably one-hundred, one- hundred and ten at max.  Really?

I know a spoiler can help a car be more aerodynamic and fuel efficient if it is designed for the car. Let me rephrase that: If the car was designed to have a spoiler as part of it’s aerodynamic package then it will help said vehicle be more efficient and blah blah blah. In this case it was like getting  a pimple on your forehead right before a first date. Not good. But at one point this young man had to  think to himself that this was a good idea. Just right. Enough is enough.

When I decided to write on this I  thought to my self ” When is enough too much”. The owner of the little compact car would have never put this spoiler on his car if he had ask this question of himself. How would we answer if we were to ask this question of ourselves? I cannot answer that for you but is this case I think I can shed a little light on the correct answer. First let me bust out some science and math on you.

First some science and how it applies, or does not apply, to modern automobiles. First I must let you know I am not a scientist but as one of my favorite bloggers Omawarisan ( http://blurts.wordpress.com) stated “Unfettered by knowledge” I will now tackle the problem of when enough is too much.

Spoilers are designed to enhance  downforce. Downforce is created when air moves over and through parts of a moving object. Opposite of this is an effect called Lift. Lift is not good if one is wanting to stay in contact with terra firma! Since that is what makes a Indy car a car and not a airplane we must counter lift with downforce.

To do this effectively as not to add weight,  hence causing the car to go slower when faster is the goal, engineers design and use spoilers to achieve this. What the owner of the little compact didn’t know because his buddies didn’t tell him ( or they wouldn’t tell him because to do so would take away the opportunity to laugh at him behind his back) was you have to have an opposite force to make a spoiler work. This is acheived by speed(speed=distance divide by time). This is something the Indy car has in spades. The little compact not so much. Now the math.

An Indy car produces about six- hundred to six -hundred and fifty horsepower (600-650 hp). Our modern stock compacts produced around one- hundred to one hundred and fifty- horsepower(100-150 hp)  at best. I think you can see that, just based on the discrepancy of the horsepower numbers alone, the whole “big Indy style spoiler thing” does not add up. Now for some more math. A fifteen- hundred dollar compact plus a two- hundred or so dollar spoiler plus a five- hundred dollar stereo still equals a fifteen-hundred dollar car. So why do it one may ask even if scientifically and mathematical it does not add up?

I would guess that such an addition can only be justified in it’s coolness factory. But I am thinking we should thank the friends of such a one for NOT giving him a clue. Without friends like his where else would we get stuff to ridicule write about?

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