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What Difference Does Wing Height Make

What Difference Does the Height of a Wing Make

Ever wonder why people put such high wings on their cars? No, it’s not to make their cars to look like shopping carts. Race cars utilize high pedestal for their wings because they are positioning their wing in an area where “clean air” is located.

Clean air is basically the area of air that is flowing smoothly around a moving car. When a car goes forward, it is displacing air around itself. In the front of the car, high pressure builds up because more air molecules are being compressed from the cars front bumper and the forward motion of the car. Conversely, the rear portion of the car has low pressure because the car has displaced air molecules from the forward motion of the car. This causes a vacuum effect in the rear portion of the car. No clean air is flowing to this vacuum.

Diagram showing air flow over a car.

A wing can only produce downforce if it is being affected by a clean air flow. If a wing is located in the rear vacuum of a car, it has no chance of utilizing the clean air flow to produce downforce. So which wing height is best for your car? Below is a breakdown of different car styles that can help you choose which height is best for you.

The Ferrari 360GTC uses a carbon fiber mid-range wing to increase downforce in the rear.

Coupes and Fastbacks/Liftbacks
The rear window on coupes and fastbacks/liftbacks usually taper down at a slight angle. This design is used to reduce drag and the described rear vacuum effect. High to mid-range wings will really work well to produce downforce for these types of cars.

BTCC Touring car, MG Z6 entering a turn. Note the height of the wing, which achieves clean air contact.

Sedans
Because sedans have a steep rear window angle, the vacuum effect in the rear is much greater then coupes/fastbacks. This means that lower height wings are not positioned in an area of clean air. The best way prevent this is to put a wing higher up from the rear deck of a car into an area of clean air. High to mid-range wings will work the best for sedans to produce downforce.

BTCC Civic Type R positions a carbon fiber wing right over the roof line to achieve contact with clean air.

Hatchbacks and Wagons
Hatchbacks and wagons have a problem… there are no rear decks to mount a wing. Fortunately these types of cars have a unique shape. Clean air flow goes over the top roof on hatchbacks and wagons. So by using a roof wing, hatchbacks can already position a wing in a clean air flow location.

Many of APR’s wings come in different sizes and heights. To see a complete listing of our wings and their different sizes and dimensions, please click here. Already have an APR wing and want to change the height of it? Take a look at our listing of 10mm base stands.