Posted July 16, 2019 in Aerodynamics
You’ve bought the Porsche® of your dreams and spent plenty of time and money to get the specifications to a place where it can handle anything you put it up against. After months of toiling over the engine, transmission, and every minor part in the car, you decide to pack it up and take it for its first run at the local track to reap the rewards of your work.
As you race down the asphalt, preparing for your first turn at high speeds, you feel the front end of the car beginning to lift and lose traction. Or maybe the car doesn’t begin to lift off the ground after takeoff, but, as you swing a tight turn on the track, your tires start to slide and lose grip.
None of this really makes any sense—you made sure to do your homework and outfit your car with premium slick or summer tires to keep as much traction between your vehicle and the road as you possibly could.
So what is the problem? Despite what feels like an issue with traction, this problem actually has to do with the aerodynamics of your vehicle.
What Are Aerodynamics?
Aerodynamics is the study of how air interacts with the structure and design of your Porsche®. As you accelerate, your car is pushing against the air in order to hit its top speed. While your vehicle has enough power to push through this resistance, the wind resistance is likely causing a loss of inertia and traction.
There are two main principles of aerodynamics that have a direct effect on the performance of your vehicle. Each of these can be tinkered with and customized to improve vehicle performance.
Lift and Downforce
As you reach higher speeds, the vertical forces that are exerted on your vehicle are referred to as lift and downforce. Lift is the force that is causing you to feel the front end of your vehicle rising as you accelerate. Downforce is what keeps your vehicle grounded by applying downward pressure.
In cases of extreme speed, downforce is an incredibly important part of keeping your vehicle stable. A lack of sufficient downforce is what will cause you to slip as you take a sharp corner; the more downforce you have, the more traction you have to push your vehicle to the limits.
But remember, it is a balancing act—too much lift and you will propel the front end of your car into the air; too much downforce and your car will be losing a significant amount of acceleration.
Depending on the design of your vehicle, you may also be losing acceleration (or fuel efficiency) to a principle known as drag. Drag is the extent to which your vehicle is being affected by the air you are driving against.
Professional racing vehicles are designed to meet the least air resistance (or drag) possible by utilizing aerodynamic designs.
In some cases, drag can create an abundance of air pressure near the rear of the car, creating an effect similar to having too much lift in the front of the vehicle.
How Do I Improve the Aerodynamics of My Porsche®?
Engineers have been developing aerodynamic designs for decades. Car performance professionals, like those at 911 Design, are familiar with the specific needs of popular vehicles and how to overcome their aerodynamic shortcomings.
In fact, you are probably already familiar with some of the most common solutions that have been incorporated into the design of many vehicles that are aimed at cutting through wind resistance.
Although there are some ridiculous cases of people installing massive spoilers for aesthetic reasons, this design element was originally developed to help the aerodynamics of a vehicle.
A spoiler can achieve many different results at the rear end of the car, such as breaking up an abundance of air pressure or creating more lift or downforce. Both of these benefits help reduce wind resistance (increasing acceleration) and improve traction (optimizing acceleration), which will lead to a faster, more controlled vehicle.
Commonly referred to as body kits, aero kits are alternative front, side, and rear paneling that you can buy to improve the aerodynamics of your vehicle.
Whereas a spoiler works primarily toward the rear of the vehicle, an aero kit can provide a drastic improvement in aerodynamics around the front and rear of your Porsche®. The front end paneling can be curved to propel air upward and your car’s tires downward, creating a stark shift in traction and handling.
Perfecting the aerodynamics of your vehicle is a tricky endeavor, but you do not have to tackle the job alone. 911 Design is dedicated to perfecting the performance of your Porsche® and is ready to help you find the perfect aero kit, spoiler, or other solution to your aerodynamic problems. Call us at (909) 982-9111 or visit our contact page to get more information now.
911 Design is an independent automotive specialty shop that repairs and restores Porsche® automobiles and is not affiliated with Porsche® Cars North America.