Monday, July 14, 2014

Very Long Hoods

Once upon a time, stylists such as General Motors' Harley Earl favored long, high hoods on their designs because this suggested that a car was powerful.  This line of thought was based on the fact that many 1930-vintage luxury cars had large, powerful straight-eight, V-12 and V-16 motors that required long hoods.

As might be expected, 1930-vintage automobile company managers and designers fell to the temptation of gilding the long-hood lily.  The present post deals with some examples extra-long -- needlessly long? -- hoods and concludes with thoughts regarding why long hoods are seldom, if ever, found on production cars today.


Daimler Double Six 50 Sport Corsica Drophead Coupé - 1931
Proportionally, this is one of the longest hoods I've ever noticed.  Daimler was best known for supplying cars for British royalty, but the Double Six series featured long hoods and the drophead example shown here is sporty, though in a cumbersome, almost unbalanced sort of way.

Voisin C 22 - 1931
Voisin seldom put long hoods on his cars.  But when he did, the results were spectacular, as with this C 22.

Bucciali TAV Double Huit U-16 - 1932
Bucciali built few cars, but they were even more spectacular those from M.Voisin.  As with the Voisin and Daimler shown above, the Bucciali's hood length was emphasized by the close-fitting front fenders.

Bugatti 41 Royale - c. 1931
Ettore Bugatti's Royale was intended to be sold to royalty.  His plan didn't work as intended, yet seven cars in the 41 series were built over a period of years.  All were huge and carried impressively long hoods, as can can be seen in this photo.

Bentley Speed Six Gurney Nutting Sportsman Coupé (Blue Train) - 1930
The Bentley Speed Six line included one that famously raced the famous French Le Train Bleu from the Riviera to Calais on the English Channel and then went on to London in less than the train's scheduled Riviera-Calais run time.  But as the link indicates, the Gurney Nutting coupé came later, and was named in honor of the Speed Six that actually performed Woolf Barnato's famous stunt.

As for the hood, it's physically shorter than those pictured above.  Yet it's proportionally long, extending about half the length of the car.

Cadillac Sixteen concept car - 2003
Cadillac's Sixteen show car (that in theory might have entered production) had two V-8 engines mounted on axis, making a unit about as long as classic-era V-16s and straight-eight motors such as the Royale had.  Yet the Sixteen's hood is shorter.  That is because production cars nowadays need to be aerodynamically efficient, and part of what it takes to achieve good efficiency is a sharply slanted windshield.  All the previously discussed cars have their windshields sitting atop their cowlings.  But the base of the Sixteen's windshield is set forward of the cowling so that it and the roofline are high enough to clear the driver's head.

Toyota Avalon - 2013
To illustrate this point further, here is Toyota's top-of-the-line Avalon.  Wind tunnel testing played an important role in establishing the car's general shape.  Also having an effect are current "packaging" requirements that include a usefully large trunk at the rear, and a compact power unit at the front.  The result is a passenger compartment with a slight forward bias.  This, coupled with the aerodynamics-dictated windshield slope, yields a stubby hood.


Daniel Kotov said...

Great article! Thank you! Is there a name or naming or term for long hoods\short trunks? Like 70\30 or 80\20 or something else?

Donald Pittenger said...

Daniel -- Not that I know of, but it's possible. In a forthcoming article (not sure when I'll schedule it), I note that the non-hood part of a Datsun/Nissan 240Z was 60 percent of the length. But that's descriptive, not knowingly jargon.