Back in ye olden days trains used to wipe out a ton of cows as the beasts were too dumb not to wander onto the tracks and into the path of an oncoming steam locomotive.* It would nearly have wiped them all out were it not for the brilliance of one man- Charles Babbage. A 19th Century Polymath considered to be the father of the modern day computer, Babbage is also credited with the invention of the Pilot, or “cow catcher” for the era’s steam locomotives.** While scooping up cows and depositing them unmolested but typically with frothy milk, the Pilot served for early transportation what the wedge shape did for automobile aerodynamics a century or more later.***
Automotive aerodynamics is a discipline almost as old as cars themselves, Karl Benz being the first to turn his cap backwards while at the tiller of his Patent Motorwagen is pursuit of that extra quarter KPH. One styling trope that offered the layman the impression of aerodynamic efficiency, but probably wasn’t all that effective was the wedge shape, pointy at front, and tall at the back. Many of the cars affixed with the style looked much like a serving of pie tipped on it side. They also looked trés bitchin.
The C3 Covette was the first production wedge car from a major American maker, but it was Europe where the style was embraced with the most gusto. The seventies were the heyday of the trope, and with Fiat X1/9s, Triumph TR7s, and Porsche 924s all prowling the streets at that time, you’d be under the impression that there wasn’t a door stopped open to be found. The wedge is such a famous styling trope that today, I want to know which one you think is history’s coolest?
* This is totally untrue, while cows are profoundly stupid, hamburgers cost more of them their lives every day than trains ever did.
** This part is actually totes true, Charles Babbage, under the employment of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, really did invent the pointy-nose part of a locomotive known as the Pilot.
*** This is not validated, but pretty likely, don’t you think?