With this one dWrenched hits a milestone. I present you, the Persu Streamliner; the world's first aerodynamic automobile. And it's story.  

     I remember years ago seeing an ad for a mineral water showing in the background an odd automobile. That poster forever stuck with me. So sorry I didn't got the idea to get me one of those posters...  But I remember thinking ''wow; I bet there is a great story to back that crazy looking car. Someday maybe I'll get into that. Maybe I'll find a way to share it with the rest of the world too, that'd be nuts...''
   Years passed, things happen and the rest is history as they say .

       But first, let's go back to the 20's. Ford T's all over the place, everybody's happy. The whole car industry starts to take shape. Almost everybody could afford a car those days. Racing was at it's beginnings too; sunshine and petrol.
One thing all the cars had in commun. The design.  They were all big and boxy. Square lines and massive bodies. And that's understandable. In that time the practicability of the thing was the most important thing.
    Here's when our hero comes into light, Aurel Persu, a Romanian engineer and inventor.
He is amongs the firsts engineers to think about aerodynamics applied into the car industry.

      The aerodynamics reffers to how much/or less air drag a car has to confront while moving. (Bare with me, I'm not a good teacher haha) Better aerodynamics, the lower the drag coefficient, car goes faster. Criterias like down force, drag force and friction are what makes a car aerodynamiclly potent or not.

   Most of his carrer, Persu studied and researched what could be the best shape for a car so it could achieve best drag coefficeint. Since  the early 1920's in fact, as a young gun at the Tehnische Hoch Schule from Berlin-Charlottenburg, Persu studied the rain drop idea... concluding that that shape is one of the most aerodynamic ones. ''During his research, Persu established that this shape of a water droplet falling to the ground (drag coefficient of 0.04) is most efficeint. This meant that for a car to be able to beat the air resistance it had to come close to both the shape of the droplet and its drag coefficient.'' So he optated to build the body looking as half of  rain drop, with (half) the wheels inside the body.

     This is the “Aerodynamically-shaped automobile with the wheels mounted inside the aerodynamic body” - how Persu himself described his invention.

       ''In 1922, Persu files a patent application for the vehicle in Germany, and receives it in 1924. On September 19th 1924 he receives the Inventor Patent no. 402683, to be exact. The car, oddly shaped, had a drag coefficient of only 0.22.''  Just for an example the Tesla S has a drag coefficient of 0.24 ! So a DC of 0.22 in 1922 was something simply revolutionary. ''(The 2006 Hummer H2 barely reaches 26.32; the average drag coefficient today is about 0.32)''
   The streamliner was built by Persu from his own money in Germany; not with the help of other car manufacturors like most of the www related posts say. More than that, get ready for another bomb...

     Persu's Streamliner was powered by an internal combustion engine developed by Ferdinand Porsche. Ferdinand was updated on Persu's work and studies In 1935, Porsche gets the task of building the Beetle, request of Adolf Hitler of the nazi Germany. From here we're really sure from where the actual design of the Beetle came from. Right ?! Now you know. Here's the original article about this matter, in romanian. Another side to the story is that Persu chose a 1.4l four cylinder A-G f Automobilbau Berlin unit which developed 20 ps, paired to an Automobilbau transmission. (Some idiots state that it was equipped with a Daimler-Benz engine, and it could reach speeds up to 180 km/h.)

      Just to prove how road worthy the streamliner really was, Aurel Persu took several trips with it . ''Persu drove it from Germany to Romania, traveling with it over the following years a total distance of about 120.000 km (74,564 miles). He managed to achieve, at times, speeds of up to 80 km/h (50 mph). The lack of a differential made the car an ideal one when it came to turning at high speeds, allowing for the operation to be done even at 60 km/h (37 mph).''

     The car had aerodynamic aluminum body, structure made out of wood, mid layout and light alloy wheels. Yes, all in 1923... In some pictures you can see the actual rubber tires. I must say that I really love the look of the streamliner with the aerodynamic- Mooneyes-Bonneville wheel caps.
       Retromobil (Romanian Classic Cars Association) had an attempt to restore it but the request was denied by the museum who hosts it for public viewing. The Persu Streamliner rests inside the Technical Museum Dimitrie Leonida in Bucharest/ Romania. Unrestored, or let's say, in the ''original'' -not so great condition. It's a battle inside myself whether it should be restored or not so... I can't really give a verdict here. Here are a few pictures I took of the Persu Streamliner a few weeks ago.

    By today's standards, the Streamliner looks like a helicopter. Or like a weird cucumber. One thing I know for sure, that the Persu Streamliner was one of the first pioneers of the modern auto industry. His studies and his vision helped shapping the way of how supercars look today. And how aerodynamics and drag coefficient dictates the way our cars look, feel and drive today.
Links/ photo creds/ etc :

Tesla S DC info
Anticariatul Tau
Retromobil/ Coconoiu
Turbo Squid
Fizica Blog
Alex blog
Four wheels
Auto Evolution

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.