Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Shooting Brake or Kammback?

(Click image for a larger view)

Ahh, the cars of the 70's. According to Hemmings, the classic car people, 70's cars are finally becoming collectible.

Hemmings says that, in good condition (this one is NOT), a Vega Kammback like this could fetch upwards of $7,000 today.

I guess I'm too old to see the attraction, but there you go. Compared to the cars of the 60's, well, there's really no comparison.

SO what is a Kammback? It's a term that refers to the work of German aerodynamicist Wunibald Kamm. Kamm discovered back in the 1930s that a flat - "cut off" - back end on a vehicle minimized turbulence behind the car. Said turbulence has the effect of pulling the car backwards when it's trying to go forward.

You can see Kamm's design concept in vehicles ranging from the ultra-highly aerodynamic Honda Insight to Ford's famous GT40 racer, to the - well - the Chevrolet Vega Kammback.

It's interesting the lengths that car marketers will go to in order to avoid using the words "station wagon". Once, Americans loved piling the family into "the wagon", and that vast area - called the "way back" in my family - proved useful for all sorts of things besides toting groceries.

With the rear seat folded forward, you could actually lie down back there, for better or for worse.

Anyway, as you can see from this 1971 commercial, Chevrolet thought that Kammback sounded a lot more sexy than "station wagon". Interestingly, in Europe station wagons are often called "shooting brakes", a term I love. But, that's another story.

Oh, and check out those driving gloves.

All images and words (except the Vega commercial) copyright 2009 Jeff Blackwell

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