I love the automotive cutaway drawing. I used to analyze them with a magnifying glass in the Road & Tracks of my youth. When I look up from my laptop now, I see a beautiful pen and ink cutaway of the perfect little Alfa Romeo TZ1. So you would think I would be excited that Porsche just released new cutaway drawings of various technical elements of the Cayman. Well, yes and no.
It is always fascinating to see how things are packaged. But with modern unibody cars, all we really see are large engine-shaped lumps floating in position, covered in plastic shrouding. A radiator levitating in space and some struts connecting to nothing. Porsche must have felt these drawings were not that engaging so they included in the portfolio an image of all the speakers in the car. And another of all the airbags deployed with a highlighted side-impact beam floating in the driver’s door. Fascinating stuff. I could probably figure out where these things are by looking for speaker grills and panels with the mandatory ‘airbag’ written on them.
But the most worrying image was a cutaway showing the rear wing deployment system: A pair of uninspiring looking electric motors and the attendant bulky bracketry needed for mounting it. Like an iceberg, the little wing we see is dwarfed by the clunky machinery hidden just below. It is perhaps the least interesting automotive cutaway drawing in history. But it is one of the more telling. All I could think when I saw it was, “This is why cars are so fat and bloated.” I would much rather see a tiny, fixed, lightweight carbon wing on the back now that I see a graphic depiction of how much wasted space and needless weight and complexity is associated with the motorized version. If all this is needed just to raise a tiny wing, think how much crap there must be high up in the back of our SUVs just because we’re too lazy to close our own tail gates.
People will say that a fixed wing ruins a car’s look. Yes, I guess that’s why the 2.7 RS 911 is so loathed today. People are smarter than car companies want to believe. They blame us for wanting these bloating luxuries. We’re savvier than that – we know that real beauty is when form and function are in harmony. We can see balance and proportion even in the subtlest places. Like the ungainly ducktail that becomes beautiful by perfectly and simplistically performing its function.
We’re guilty of swallowing what the car companies give us. Our cars have gotten so heavy and bloated we have to keep adding more power just to make them move. We’re obsessed with MPG figures, then we buy a hybrid SUV with automatic closing doors. Why does my twenty-one year old VW Corrado get 20% better mileage than my wife’s one year old Kia? It shouldn’t be the case. But I’m gonna go outside and disconnect that damn motorized spoiler and see if I can’t make it 21%.