The End And The Return Of Ferrari’s Archways of Aerodynamics

When Ferrari introduced the 599 GTB at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show, they introduced with it a graceful and elegant piece of aerodynamics: Gothic flying buttresses for C-pillars. They are gone on the F12 Berlinetta, the 599’s just-unveiled successor, but Honda is here to pick up the slack with the NSX.

It takes a while to spot these pillars on the 599 if you don’t know what you’re looking for. From most angles, they appear like regular C-pillars, but if you look down the length of the car with a view towards the center back, you can see that they have an opening underneath which channels air towards the rear. Apart from producing downforce at the rear wheels without an ungainly wing, it’s also a way to cut down on drag.

So it was good to see the flying buttresses reappear on the Honda NSX, and they come not without a hint of history. The original NSX, introduced in 1990, was an Athena in the world of supercars, born fully armed from Honda’s perfectionist forehead, and it wreaked havoc on the perception of what a supercar should be. Before 1990, these were understood to be fickle, temperamental things, not terribly reliable, Italian not just in good ways but in bad ways too.

It was Honda who showed that fickleness is not an inherent quality of supercars, that a mid-engined supercar can both be magnificent and a good car, period, forcing Ferrari and everyone else to make them better. When you expect a modern supercar like the Audi R8 or the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG to behave like a civilized, proper car, you should thank the NSX.

In its current form, the new NSX is little more than a beautiful platform to project our dreams of a future and magnificent Honda on. They won’t build it until 2015 and it has neither an engine nor an interior at the moment. It is then just the thing to imagine shaking up the world yet again. Also, when did gratuitous Pixies references go out of fashion? Never, is when.