Tuesday, December 7

This was the Schlörwagen, the super-aerodynamic (and unsafe) car that tried to revolutionize the world in 1939

In the 1930s almost all cars were still the same patternBig front end – the engines were huge – and small cabins. The lines weren’t particularly curvy and aerodynamics seemed to be a secondary factor. And then the Schlörwagen came.

He did it in 1939 by the hand of Karl Schlör, an engineer who devised it with a clear objective: make it super aerodynamic. The result was a kind of “egg” that certainly had a really low drag coefficient. The problem was, it was too modern.

A car ahead of its time (and even ours)

Schl¨ör had been proposing a body with a very low drag coefficient for years, and finally put his ideas into practice with the development of a prototype based on the chassis of the Mercedes-Benz 170H, which was very special because of a factor necessary for the Schlör design: had the engine behind (hence the H, which referred to the German word ‘heckmotor’, rear engine).

The body of the vehicle was built with aluminum, and apparently for its design its creator was inspired by the wings of airplanes.

In subsequent tests of the motorized model the drag coefficient was impressive: just 0.186. To put us in situation, the Tesla Model 3 – one of the most aerodynamic cars sold on a large scale today – has a coefficient of 0.21, worse than that design of almost a century ago.


The vehicle was 4.33 m long and 1.48 m high, and its wheelbase was 2.6 m. It was about a concept family car capable of carrying seven people inside. Its teardrop-shaped design was truly unique, absolutely groundbreaking for the time, but although its drag coefficient was very low, there were serious problems with that concept.


The most important was the safety of the vehicle, which precisely because of its aerodynamic shape and the position of the rear engine – very far behind the vehicle’s center of gravity. made it vulnerable for example to crosswinds and they also complicated its driving.


In 1942, a group of engineers fitted a 130 hp engine from a Russian aircraft to run some tests. Long live the crazy ideas.

Still, the car was certainly fast: reached a top speed of 135 km / h in tests, which meant improving by 20 km / h what was achieved with the Mercedes from which it came. Fuel consumption was 8 liters per 100 km, between 20 and 40% less than the reference vehicle.


The Schlörwagen was unveiled at the 1939 Berlin Motor Show and caused enormous excitement, but that design was too revolutionary for the public, who criticized himPDF) for being, simply, “ugly”.


For all its aerodynamic advantages, those criticisms joined at the start of World War II and they caused that the Schlörwagen was never produced in series.


At the end of the war the vehicle disappeared, and although there are statements stating that it was still standing until at least August 1948 at the AVA laboratory in Gottingen where it was manufactured, the building was eventually demolished and the body was probably destroyed.

Via | Rare Historical Photos


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