Believe it or not, developing a scoop that’s effective at scooping air in without creating ridiculous amounts of drag is phenomenally difficult. It’s actually quite easy to design a scoop looking thing that barely scoops at all. You could say it sucks…but the problem is it doesn’t.
Luckily, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (the predecessor to NASA) figured it out for us back in the 1940s. As the rocket/jet age took off (har, har…), the NACA duct was born from a need to pull air into jet engines without significantly disrupting the flow of passing air. Semi-ironically, NACA ducts can’t really pull in enough air to feed a jet engine, but they work great for lower-speed cooling applications.
While supersonic road going vehicles remain a Syd Meade-grade product of The Retro Future, the needs for air intake, cooling and aerodynamic slickness continue to increase. This was particularly true in the 70s, as cars went from matching artists’ conceptions of what a rocket car should be to meeting engineers’ design requirements for top speed and fuel economy. Hence, a preponderance of NACA ducts in the ’70s and ’80s.
For today’s Encyclopedia Hoonatica, simply pulling up every JC Whitney-ized Civic you can find on Google image search won’t cut it. It’s gotta be the submerged, curvy beauty that is the NACA duct, and it’s gotta be from the factory.
Just to eliminate another bit of low-hanging fruit, here’s an Espada, which The Missus refers to as “her Lambo”, as she has plans to
kill me with six Italian carburetors feeding twelve cylinders sport one as a semi-practical mom-mobile some day.
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Image Source: Wikipedia