My wife keeps telling me that wheel skirts look weird on cars. She then tells me that the Honda Insight looks rather horrible. While I disagree, it really doesn't matter. It isn't like I have 20K to blow on an insight anyway.
At what point to aero mods start offending the eye? At what point do the extra additions hurt the appeal of economy? Most importantly, how many of you really care? Would you drive an ugly car with ridiculous modifications if it got 60+mpg?
I wouldn't mind things like wheel skirts and similar things so long as they didn't get in the way of safety or anything like that. I usually like the look of aero cars. Although I'm not going to be doing anything to my 'Sol because the body kit gives it a certain look that I like, and that look is not 300mpg ultra-efficient nerd vehicle. If I do end up buying a commuter car when I graduate, I would definitely consider more far out ideas that would be super nerdy.
Scouring the country for an excellent condition Civic VX
well, i have to agree with your wife, matt. they do look weird - but only because they're unconventional, not because they're unattractive.
i also used to think the insight was an ugly car before i learned about the importance of aerodynamics, and before i knew that it's the most aero mass market car currently being built. now i view them similarly to the way i view a sleek sailboat or a giant wind turbine - examples of design elegance & efficiency in one package.
as for wheel skirts - i drove through toronto today at rush hour with the cardboard skirts on my car. was i a bit self conscious? yup. but if you want to get over it, just slap 'em on and drive around for a while
i only noticed one person *obviously* looking at them. i do think they look weird, but i still fully intend to produce a more "professional" & durable permanent pair made of plastic this spring.
on a side note - i struggled against a headwind all afternoon today, covering about 400 km heading west on the north side of lake ontario, through toronto. with the wind (gusts were up to 50kph/30mph) i barely managed 50 mpg (US). but after i rounded the west tip of lake and started heading east with the wind at my back, i was stunned to see the scangauge climb to 72+ mpg over 25+ km of 80 kph/50 mph pulse and glide driving. i realize it's mostly the wind, but it's still cool to see numbers that high.
Old Caddy's from the 50's, and more recently, the 90's Oldmobile Regency 98 and same generation Cadillac Fleetwoods employed an integrated "half-skirt" that looked classy. MetroMPG tested skirts (with some other aero mods) and found it to be worthwhile. As for looks, it would have to be done right or else it would look like a cheap "bolt-on". IMHO, the Insight skirts are a bit too high on the dorkometer for my tastes.
I'm thinking of making the stuff out of fiberglass and getting a www.paintscratch.com can of matching paint and then spraying it to match the car so that is does not look completely terrible.
Fiberglas is a good composite for the application, and with the paint it might not look half bad. I'd have to photoshop my car with such a setup to really get a feel for it.
Something you may want to think about is a quick-release system for when you have to change the tire. Otherwise, you've glued yourself into a corner. Speaking of cornering, since your car has an independent rear suspension, you'd have to allow extra room for camber movement as the wheel tilts outward on it's axis during shock absorbing, cornering, etc. Have you considered lowering the car? If so, that would also decrease wind resistance and reduce suspension travel (with a camber kit, of course).