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Spoilers ahead: 5 of your favorite factory downforce devices

A spoiler is a sports car staple, a tidy piece of aerodynamics that signals a car means business. We asked the Hagerty Forums readers to tell us their favorite factory spoilers last week and the answers spanned a wide range... almost as wide as a few of the suggestions.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/11/25/spoilers-ahead-5-of-your-favorite-factory-downforce-devices

Mmmm, some of the above look to be ‘spoilers’ while others are ‘wings’. I don’t have a technical background, but understood those were two different things. I guess if we’re just talking cosmetics it doesn’t matter. But was thinking that a ‘spoiler’ improved airflow at the rear of the car, while a ‘wing’ added downforce. No?

A spoiler can add down force as well, NASCAR cars have spoilers to add down force to the rear of their cars, also I can attest to the fact that both the front air dam and the tall 3 piece rear spoiler on second gen Camaros work. I was driving south bound on US 395 many years ago in my 72 SS 350 Camaro, being in the middle of the desert with no one around I was exceeding the speed limit just slightly, at about 100 mph I could actually feel the car lowering itself!

The first generation RX-7 front end suspension would begin to lift at about 105 mph without the addition of a spoiler making spirited driving more interesting.

The SPOILER, by reducing DRAG, diverting the turbulence of the airflow to behind the vehicle, also reduces LIFT.
A WING, on the other hand, primarily creates DOWNFORCE which also INCREASES DRAG, caring little about fuel economy or diverting the turbulence.
The terms SPOILER and WING have grown to be used interchangeably!

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It is great to have AMC recognized in this article and that is a nice picture of a 1971 Javelin AMX, but not a 1970 as the heading says. Mark Donahue and the Penske team won the Trans-Am championship for AMC in 1971, but when I think of the spoiler he designed, it would be the one on the limited edition 1970 Javelin SST with his signature on the spoiler. A picture like the one below should have been used in the article.

This is also my understanding two very different things. But in the context of this particular forum I suppose it’s splitting hairs.
Most OEM stuff is mostly for looks anyway.

It was a light car with no front splitter and a ‘dirty’ bottom which probably didn’t help much either. My 81 unmodified FB would float. Virtually all others In that era did as well.

The two-tier spoiler on the '86 Mustang SVO.

In the case of the 911, the article is wrong as far as technical details. The described 911 tails are all about reducing lift over adding downforce. The first 911 spoiler was the ducktail which reduced lift inherent in the 911 shape. The next was the ‘whale tail’ fitted to early Carrera’s and Non-inter cooled turbos. It added a rubber upturned lip and blurred the line between spoiler and wing. The next was the intercooled turbo tail called a ‘tea tray’ which was taller and bulkier, to leave room for the inter cooler. The tea tray name comes from the upturned sides. So the tail now doubled as lift reducer and intercooled air intake. Confusingly this same tail was also fitted to non- turbo cars. But these are not correctly called a whale tail by the purist.

The later Carreras 84-89 had a similar tail without the upturned sides, which is the one pictured in the article. The turbo tea tray tail lasted until 94.

To add further to the confusion the racing 911s of the 70s grew larger and larger wings to add downforce. The difference was no rubber edging, as pedestrian injuries were not an issue on race cars. The IROC tails look similar to the early road car whale tails, but are much larger.

Fox body SALEEN whale tail. Was it even functional? Also, Dodge VIPER ACR & ACR-Extreme. Those 2 are functional.

The 1969 Pontiac Firebird Trans AM had a pretty cool looking spoiler:

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The infamous Shelby tail on the 67 Mustang. I don’t know what it did for aerodynamics but IMO it did nothing good for aesthetics - the factory rear was gorgeous with the concave cam-back, wraparound trim, center crease and slightly upturned “winglet” corners.

Unfortunately we now have thousands and thousands of “tribute” or Eleanor fastbacks running around with ugly butts. It now seems more rare to see an original fastback than another “Shelby-ized” hack job. PLEASE stop ruining these cars!

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Actually the best Spoiler of all time is this lowest numbers matcing only factory AC car known. I called it Merk-Zilla when I owned and restored it. I put it in the Dean Kruse auction and it hit the reserve. This picture is a few yrs later inside Ray Evernham’s garage while he owned. I saw it had sold recently at Barrett Jackson in Vegas.

Amen to that. I cringe every time I see an Eleanor or Shelby hack job.

While I’m not generally a spoiler or wing guy, I do like some of them including the one on the 70-1/2 Z28.
It’s all subjective. The only thing that matters is if it floats your boat or suits your needs. If I was racing on a track then I’d put a sofa on my trunk if it would help me win a race.

AMG’s ducktails for the W124 series stands out for me by how they incorporate the line made by the rear lights into the ducktail spoiler.