Home / Experts/Tech / How I Would Design An Electric Version Of A Classic American Wagon: A Car Designer Sketches Your Ideas

How I Would Design An Electric Version Of A Classic American Wagon: A Car Designer Sketches Your Ideas


After many long nights in a dark, smoky dust-filled back room here at Autopian Towers, we’ve come to a decision. Torchinsky shone a bright light into my eyes, grabbed another neon-colored soda from the Aztek cooler, pounded it on the table like a man possessed and started hissing something incoherent about taillights—what I think he meant was our car should have some, preferably a pair. I agreed with him while backing away slowly. It seemed safer that way.

Of all the brilliant suggestions we plucked from the comments of our introductory “Ask A Designer” story using a spectacularly non-scientific decision-making process that sadly didn’t involve bribery or blackmail, the one that we chose was a modern EV version of the traditional All-American Station Wagon. Yes, we decided that I’d try my hand at designing an actual EV wagon— not an SUV or ‘soft roader’ pretensions.

Will we ever see the market return to this type of car? Their size makes them ideal for swallowing batteries, and being lower to the ground helps with handling and aero efficiency. If we can capture a little of the look of those old aircraft carrier wagons of yore and update it sympathetically without ruining its soul, we might tap into some that sweet heritage appeal that helps sell Broncos, Wranglers and Challengers.

Ev wagon board 1


One of legendary GM designer Harley Earl’s edicts was always “longer, lower, wider,” and boy does this ever apply to wagons. The fundamental shape simply screams great proportions before the pen even touches the paper.

Here I’ve sketched out two front three-quarter views. Along with the rear three quarter view, these are the most common for a designer to use to show their ideas. This is because they show you two sides at the same time– important because a car’s design should work as you look around it and take in the whole thing.

Since we’re going for a slightly more traditional look, we don’t have the headlights wrapping around into the fender, or corners that are pulled in tight (this is more important for FWD vehicles, as it allows the designer to hide the front overhang).

On the second sketch I’ve added some wood paneling, but rather than slapping it down the side of the wagon I’ve used it as C pillar trim that wraps up into the roof. Why? If you were going to add wood to a new vehicle, you couldn’t just screw onto the bodyside like they used to. You would need it to be flush fitting – which would necessitate two different bodyside stampings–one for paneling, one without (so customers have the option).

This would be economically unfeasible, so one way around this would be to have a trim piece in a place that could either be wood or something else. Here, it could be wood, it could be body colored, or it could be black to blend in with the glazing.Ev wagon board 2


For the ones above I’ve done a slightly more dramatic front-on view. The lack of detail on the side of the car is deliberate– sketch three is all about the front graphic. I quite like this but it feels a bit Cadillac which may not be entirely appropriate.

The second sketch (number four) shows another front three-quarter with a more conservative front graphic and a different approach to the wood paneling. The beauty of sketching digitally is that once you’ve got your eye in and nailed the volumes, you can reuse and alter the same sketch over and over.

Chief designers love saying “I like that, give me ten more versions of it”–and you have to quickly churn out a load of variants. I don’t feel sketch four is as successful as the previous two; something about it doesn’t quite flow the way I would like, and I don’t think the front is modern enough.

Ev wagon board 3


See what I mean? Sketch five is a redo of sketch three. I like this front graphic but it feels a bit like something you would see on a muscle car – not necessarily a bad thing, as muscle cars were often based on the two door version of a family of cars that included a wagon. But it might be a little aggressive for our wagon.

Sketch 6 shows another potential C pillar/wood paneling treatment, this time wrapping around the tailgate. I like the step up in the window line and the way it’s mirrored in the roof–it’s clean and modern. This is a higher rear three quarter view — these sorts of views are not used often as they are tricky to get right. They might be used if you have a particular roof or hood detail you want to show. In this case the designer may quickly knock up a digital 3D ‘scratch model’ or use an underlay to sketch over (as I did in this case).

So there you have it. Discuss and dissect in the comments below, feel free to sketch over the images, let me know what you like and don’t like, and I’ll take all your suggestions onboard and come up with the final wagon design next week.

[Ed Note: We decided not to use a poll here to decide because Adrian really likes seeing the thought processes and discussion in the comments! So, please, argue and talk and have fun!–JT]

All Sketches by Adrian Clarke
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92 Responses

  1. well, I like #6 and the front of #2, so could you blend those? And I say you should have wood all the way around. Or , like, It starts at the C-pillar on 6 and wraps around the #2 style front end?

  2. Overall I think 4 is the best looking of the bunch, but I am not crazy about the front end. I liked the fronts of both 1 and 2, but I am not entirely either of those would work on 4. Number 6 was too chonky boy for my tastes, such that they are.

  3. Love the “Cadillac style” front end. Like the nod to the Vista Cruiser roofline, also like the side treatment in #1. Not sure how I feel about wood trim. It was already an anachronism in the 1970s. The wooden “roll bar” in #2 looks nice in the abstract, but doesn’t even really nod in the direction of a part that would have been a wood panel on a woody.

  4. Think we’ve gone more for wagon visuals, and less for wagon utility, which is the main reason to own a wagon in my book.

    You’ve consistently got the roof bump at the C pillar. That’s like the Vista Cruiser, but a better option is the 80’s Caprice, which put it halfway between B & C. It doesn’t seem like a big difference until you’re the one trying to reach over the back seat into the cargo area. Nets you longer roof rails too.

    I also don’t see anything that leads me to believe a step bumper is involved. If this is a car built to haul, that’s a big usability plus, even without tow ball holes. Ideally, it should be able to bumper pull, like the big wagons it’s based on, but I’ll settle for a receiver hitch.

    If I had to pick one of these, I’d go #3.

    1. Points taken and noted. Nothing is set in stone at this point – so the roof step can be anywhere we choose to put it. I suspect that putting the kick up in the roofline between the b and c pillar will look more balanced and less tail heavy.

  5. I’d go with less kickup in the back…..borders on starting to look like the Homer a bit. Not sure who we are designing for brand-wise which will influence the look, but my love of Pontiac and split grills takes me to the front of #2. Maybe move the lights down and make them run horizontal through the “grill” area (a little like 4 but inside, not outside the “grill”). I like what you are starting to do with the wood in 4, maybe that can be worked into a longer chunk of the beltline and thinned out a little (yeah, this would make manufacturing hard).

    So roofline of 1, grill of 2, lights of 4 (ish) with woodline accenuating the beltline of the greenhouse.

    Side note on the site, seems to load rather slow compared to others. FYI for the technical and editorial types…..

  6. number 3 is absolutely beautiful. and honestly with how suv design language is changing, it might even be appealing to the average consumer. i think the first company to capitalize on a retro-styled wagon could start something big.

  7. Never really thought about it, but sketching most certainly must come before any kind of clay modeling.
    Somewhere along the line the look of an automobile became more, or as least as much of, the selling point than the utility. I doubt Charles Duryea had a sketch artist.
    I wonder which artists over the years are most satisfied with the production model matching their sketches?

    1. Yes, sketching always comes first. We’re compressing into a few days what typically a team of young designers will work on for a few weeks or even longer. Clay modelling doesn’t start until a few strong themes emerge from the sketch work.

      1. And now with computer/tablet drawing I reckon you can add and subtract layers on a whim. Saves a bunch on paper, and I wonder how much that tightens up the competition. Where a designer might have been frustrated starting over every time with a new sheet of paper, now the savvy artist can probably have elements of design ready to drop in to just about any drawing.
        How cool. Can’t wait to see what comes out of the minds of designers in the future.

        1. Yes, working digitally is a lot quicker and more efficient, not to mention healthier (no marker fumes or chalk dust!). About the only element designers keep and reuse is wheels, as they can be time consuming to draw. In the studio we would normally take them from a previous render or from a photo of an existing car at this stage. Also wheels are usually designed separately (designers will normally do them when they have a spare afternoon and chuck them in a ‘wheels’ folder).

  8. #1 looks like a Dodge Challenger front end on a wagon but oddly enough I rather like it. #3 is a little bit Cadillac but if you combine the #3 front end with the rest of #1 it’s a slick looking combo.

    Love, love, love the tributes to the Vista Cruiser roof and the #6 Land Rover Disco/LR stadium roof but honestly the flat roof on #1 looks great as well and would probably be the one most likely to make it to production unless it was a GM product and they decided on a retro tribute. With regard to the raised roof sketches in the area around the rear doors and wheels #4 is my favorite and is the clear choice if you’re going for a retro homage look. However, something more akin to #6 also looks good and looks much more in keeping with modern design trends.

    I like the lowered rear wheel “skirts” on #1 and #2, and in the specific case of #1 I like the raised arch above the rear wheel. In today’s vehicles with high beltlines the flat roof version has some added character with that feature but dropping back down behind it helps to preserve what ever airiness you can keep. I’m guess it it might help with side impact safety at that particular spot as well. For the raised roof models what you’re doing with the beltline in #4 and #6 each work well with the iteration, #2 less so.

    I’m not at all enamored with the front ends of #2 (some sort of throwback grill with popups pasted on) and #5 (which looks for all the world like a Cylon visor). #4 front end just feels dated like a Ford Crown Vic or something from the late 80s / early 90s and not retro homage. However, I think I get where you were going with the allusion to a wedge shape and sloping the front. I agree that a blocky, squared off front end would not work as well with the rest of the silhouette, so it could be worth a few more sketches and attempts in that direction. I just don’t like that particular iteration of the idea.

    I enjoyed your ideas on using the wood element while toning it down a bit. I think the treatment on #4 is the most successful in that respect. #6 also works. I can’t say I liked the pillar treatment in #2, as putting geegaws on the C-pillar just harks back too much to the frippery of the malaise era in that respect. #2 is just overall too busy from the rear doors back.

    And Adrian, great call on nixing the poll. It’s hard enough to bring out nuance in discussion in the short form we have to use on the Internet, so having the ability to at least talk a little bit about our reasoning is great.

  9. Alright, here we go. I love the rear wheel arch on 1 & 2, and (as much as I love the Vista Cruiser) I like the flat roof on 1 the most. But the front on that is too much Dodge for me. My wife thinks the back on 6 looks Land Rover-esq, and I agree, but that’s not a problem. We also both like the wrap around wood on 4 & 6. I don’t see a front end that I love though. Maybe some tail lights like on the new Lotus SUV? Not sure how that would work with the wrap around wood. Hmmm.

  10. Between 3 & 4 for me. I find 3’s grill a bit too pronounced, but 4’s is a little too raked for me, but a mental hybrid of them in my head works without being able to put the thought to words.

    For the rear raised section, make it a roof section that slides forward between roof rack rails. Now we can load and tie off something tall back there! Bonus if the rear glass drops into a tilt/swing tailgate.

    Also, channel your inner Lee Iacocca and make sure a sheet of plywood can slide in the back with the seats folded.

    1. Adrian, we have to talk. Not only am I looking at L322s to buy since 5 years (rust is the issue where I live), I am a very happy “curator” of a 83 Mondial QV as well…the interior door handle alone let’s my heart sing. Now if you were to tell me you have a fondness nor the S123 wagon or the Ford Granada Turnier…

      Back to the topic: I like the 70s vibe of #3 best, #4 reminds of the Hi-Tech Subaru coupe from the 80’s. The hump on the C-pilar is a bit too much drama.
      In general wagons look best when they express that you mean some kind of business (vs. hedonists in convertible/coupes or “I don’t have to work with my hands” sedan people), therefore clear slated wagon portions are more convincing then fin tail stumps, humps and crevices.
      Both, S123 and Granada, “huts” were used with success on all kinds of conversions. Which brings me to the Vista Cruiser roof. It serves no purpose until you have 3rd row passengers looking through them from an appropriately elevated platform OR if you make it a retractable roof portion that can slide forward over the middle row to allow for those longer than 8′ 2x4s to be slid in from over the back, here> think Fiat Fiorino from the 80s.
      While the upright taillight is great, are there ways to get horizontals?
      Thank you

      1. Love the W123 (and have done since way before it was cool to do so). Never heard of the Granada Wagon being called a Turnier, but I’m from east London, so those old Fords were practically my religion growing up. Had more than my fair share of RWD Fords when they were cheap and disposable.

        Recently had to replace my passenger side door lock on the Mondial as it refused to, well lock. Took the opportunity to adjust the interior door handle so it sits nice and flush now….

  11. Love it, but I think, like always when taking concept sketch to reality, the roof will need to be a more realistic height and the windshield rake subsequently reduced.

    I can only imagine the space in the interior of that car due to it being an EV. The entire space behind the front seats could just be a “room”. I envision a poker table with benches on all 4 sides.

  12. Number six is speaking to me. I really like that idea of just a little bit of wood, especially wrapping around the back like that. Would be appropriate for a wagon version of a sedan – the wood and the kicked-up roofline would differentiate it.

  13. Also, I know you weren’t crazy about the 4th one, but it has this late 80s Chrysler retro vibe to it, and I think in the flesh, boy would it pop. It’s the most villanous looking of all of them, which doesn’t sound like a compliment, but it is. It’s angular, sharp, and striking. There’s a lot of “muscle” look to some of the others, but I feel like this one has no sporty pretentions, and ends up leaning into the big, intimidating, strong and silent EV luxo-barge I would love to have someday.

  14. The front end of #1, fleshed out with headlights and turn signals could be the strongest design of the bunch. But I must insist that it has a stepped roof like some of the other options along with a modern take on vista windows. As faux wood fetishist, I like your take of using it along the C pillar or the rear window. But the faux wood market is very niche. Would an optional two tone paint be too hard for production? I feel like legit two tone is due for a comeback. SUV manufacturers have been teasing us with black roofs for years, it’s only a matter of time before we can pick two colors like the good old days.

    1. Two tone paint is entirely doable. In fact something I worked on (that ended up being cancelled at the last moment….) was going to be available ONLY in two tone. It’s usually reserved for more expensive cars because of the additional steps it adds to the painting process, but I think we can indulge ourselves……

  15. Cool. Vistacruiser raised roof works for me… rear facing seat option, the wood accents are great! I’m leaning at somewhere between 2 & 4. I agree that 4’s front end isn’t perfect, but I like the rest of it. Six is a little closer to an SUV look to me, but that actually works–like a retro-update to a Ford Flex, if that makes sense. Like I could live with that. I like wagons because I like wagons, but I also like that they would make good EVs–lots of space and good aerodynamics. And I like wagons because I like snowsports and SUVs are too tall in many cases for convenient ski-racks (or wagons are better). So I look at these and slap a ski rack on them in my mind. Six is very ski-rack capable, but still low enough with tons of room.

    Thank you, this was interesting!

  16. Yes, yes, yes, bring back the Vista Cruiser. I actually think Subaru would be the best brand to do this, since they have a devoted fanbase of wagons already. Just stretch the Outback longer and wider, electrify it, add those little yacht-roof windows, voila.

    1. While I agree that Subaru has it’s own wagon niche, ‘long, wide & low’ was never a part of it.

      If we’re going to go with a Japanese manufacturer, I’d say the Mazda6 wagon is closer to the looks we’re after here.

    2. I dunno, I dont this this body style would work for subaru’s corporate design language. I guess anything is possible, but I imagine a longer, wider outback ending up just looking like a lowered Ascent with a chop top.

  17. I think I like the front from #2, and the back from #6 the most. A mashup of those, with a tailgate and rear-facing trunk seats, would be perfection. One potential issue is that I would prefer something that is rear-wheel drive or at least rear biased AWD, so I worry that packaging would become too complicated (expensive) with a seat in the back. Since this has a huge hood, I imagine that front-engine, fwd would make the most sense and still leave plenty of space for a frunk.

    1. Agree 2 front end with 6 rear. I like where the wood trim is there. I know Mercedes does it, but I would think it would be difficult to get a rear-facing 3rd row through now adays. How do you make that safe enough?

      1. The rear cargo interior is constructed entirely from marshmallows. Soft and allows the kids to maintain their sugar high.

        A rear facing third row is arguably safer than forward facing (it’s why child seats should be mounted backwards up to a certain age), the problem is kids and small adults would rather face forwards.

  18. I love #1. Give me that with some wood paneling and I am all over it.
    I don’t love the raised rear roof, if I need a 3rd row of seats I’ll buy a minivan. Just don’t make the back of the roof rake down so far the hatch is compromised.

    Also: how many options of brown does it come in?

  19. I love #1. I’d love it even more if it was a little less chonky.

    For a future design article idea. I think minivans would sell better if they didn’t have a slab side. My idea would be to emboss a racey profile onto the side. Merge a racecar with a minivan. I can see it in my head but have no talent for sketching.

  20. Be careful with the angle on the D pillar. I love the look, but it cuts into utility. That is my biggest peeve with modern wagons. I loved the look of the TourX, but could not bring myself to buy one due to the lack of USABLE cargo space behind the rear seats. My wife wouldn’t go for a minivan, either, so we ended up with our ho-hum Highlander..

  21. Agree that the 60’s /70’s retro look is cool; why not use round headlights also?
    Great to hear about the design process!
    Am curious, how soon in the process would you get to worrying about rear visibility / blind spots?

  22. Just looking over these sketches, I feel like some key DNA of the iconic family wagon is missing. I don’t think the schnoz is long enough on any of these designs. They all look like a recognizably contemporary greenhouse-to-nose proportion. That hood should be a mile long – think of all the frunk space! I also wouldn’t mind a swooping character line somewhere – that side acreage seems a bit empty, if you’re evoking that classic American wagon look.

  23. #1. My biggest takeaway here is that I like the flat roof line. Raising the roof, regardless of where it is feels like it’s breaking the smooth body line which is a bit jarring and makes the car feel tall, which works against “lower, longer, wider”. The face of #1 is very Dodge Challenger-esque, which could make it a bit generic, but I really like it and think it works well with the rest of the car. I like the rear wheel “hump” vs. a straight line at the bottom of the windows.

    I like the face of #4, but it gives the impression that it’s 1985, but new, which isn’t great. The tall roof works best on this one, but I’d like to see it with a flat top roof, while keeping the raised lower window line (where the wood grain is).

    #3 feels very Cadillac concept car, which look odd on paper, but come out stunning in realty.

  24. All of these seem loosely based on RWD proportions, which makes sense given they’re referencing the old body on frame wagons of yore. With EVs comes greater flexibility in those proportions if you’re working with a skateboard chassis, but I haven’t seen any EVs with this same general body shape before. Porsche’s Taycan might be the closest but it has a very swept tail. I think these retro EV wagons are very successful in their details, but I’m not sure it would be possible to have these proportions on a modern unibody electric car.

    Great job, by the way! I love the stepped roof design and think applying a wood grain detail to it is a fun twist on the old woody wagons.

  25. Love the roofline of #1, the “bubble” on the rest starts to get too tall for me to really appreciate it. Feels almost like I should see Richard Hammond looking out at the world from within it.

    For the wood wraparound stuff, why not replace with a newer, more modern material? Carbon Fiber?

  26. #2 front end, with a flat roof line, some wood trim wrap around like #6, and possibly some two-tone paint.

    I sometimes wish my Flex were two-tone. And I almost always wish it weren’t black (for keeping it clean). In the used car market, you sometimes have to make some compromises.

  27. I like #1, for no other reason that it’s the one that feels right to me.

    I would say that staying away from the “wood” trim is the way to go. Here we have the wagon of the future, so tying it to a time when fake wood was considered a feature doesn’t work for me (maybe because I am old an remember those cars when they were new.

    That said, MORE WAGONS!!! MOAR!!!!

    1. There is always a portion of the market that wants something different. A well executed, high performance wagon seems like it could find new life. If the great wagon re-emergence comes, I think it will start with an EV company looking to solve for space and efficiency.

  28. Sweet drawings!

    Personally, I favor keeping the shape/non-stepped roof of 1, and the front end of #4. Both those lend themselves to some tweaks that could allow for excellent aero by today’s standards, while also looking cool. Being an EV, you can go with a completely grille-less design like Tesla’s Model 3. Taper the back a bit similar to the Audi PB18 concept, and cover the rear wheel well ala 1st generation Honda Insight. You could even give it old-school Cadillac hearse-like tail lights that could be subtly curved to double as a partial Kammtail. It would look badass in black. The potential exists to make a pleasingly sinister looking retro design that could get a Cd value into the upper 0.1X to low 0.2X range with some wind tunnel shaping. Need more storage space? Lengthen it; that’s more room for batteries. The potential for such a thing to be very comfortable and get ridiculous range exists.

    If you get the drag low enough, even if it weighs in at 6,000 lbs, there is a possibility of getting consumption to around 0.2 kWh/mile @ 70 mph on the highway. With a 150 kWh pack, that’s a 700 mile range, and there would be plenty of room to fit that pack in such a long thing. With a modern magnetic suspension, it could ride smoother than a Citroen DS.

    The idea is a road trip vehicle, after all.

  29. I’m a huge fan of #2.

    It oozes retro-throwback but also feels like a solid modern take and with the right finer details included, seems very plausible.

    The one thing I’d say is that I’d love to see the fascia of #2 utilising the silhouette of #1.

    I’m curious how you’d envision the interior of this design.

  30. I like the front end on 1 & 2 the best. 3 is either Monte Carlo or Eldorado and neither one says wagon to me. I agree with whoever saw Crown Vic in #4. What if the loop bumper on 6 was bigger? Less Camaro and more ’69-70 Chrysler 300.

    The Vista Cruiser roof seems like a good idea on an EV since I assume the batteries would be under the floor, so less room for footwells.

    The bump up in the window sill on 1 & 2 is interesting, but I think it would be better with a full wheel opening and I like the slightly skirted style better.

    That up curving trim line ahead of the rear wheel on 4 is interesting, but is it going to look weird once you add the actual door outline?

    Overall, my car would be the body of 4 or 6 with the fender skirts and front clip from 1 or 2.

  31. Sketch #4 has these echos of 1950s fins which I really like in something intended to be lightly nostalgic.
    I’d like to see that brought forward to the grille, somehow, rather than the Camaro-like 5 or the Caddy-ish of 3 and 4. Maybe we could use dagmars for the sensor package?

  32. I really like your sketches, but I was never a fan of the gigantic American road yacht. Of these I like sketch #1 because it’s roof is flat.

    If we are going to look back, how about a Volvo 240? Or even better, put batteries into a SAAB 9-5 wagon?

  33. Cool feature.

    Folks had a Vista Cruiser when I was a kid. Maybe the only American car I’ve ever really loved. I vote #2 with maybe the face from #1? Not sure — none of the faces really grab me…

  34. Sadly too many Americans are more focused on how large of a vehicle they can get their hands on rather than the utility the vehicle actually provides. Does anybody need the new electric Hummer? Probably like two people in the whole country yet we just saw one sell for north of 250k on BaT. I would love to see any variation of these designs actually hit the market, do well, and bring back wagons to the American market in an electrifying way.

  35. I love these. They’re a little Syd Mead-esque to my eyes. I actually think 4 is my favorite. Also, just don’t offer it without lots of wood. Woodgrain needs to come back. It’s classy.

  36. My all-time favorite wagon is the first-gen AMC Matador, and for that reason my favorite designs are 2 and 5. I like they they’re curvy but also chunky. A station wagon should be without shame. If the Hummer can come back as an electric, I think wagons can, too. I agree with Longmont that it needs a two-way tailgate; those things are a lost art. Sell the finished product as an electric road trip car but have a trim line that’s a hearse.

  37. I vote for #2 for the Vista Cruiser top, the wood hoop trim, and rear semi-skirts. The front end will be problematic imo. As an ev, this absolutely needs the best drag coefficient possible, but that could easily leave the nose blank, and I well remember the vitriol about the Tesla 3’s chin on that other site.

    Interesting study, this: it’s a big slab, so you need the modern sharp creases for definition, but that could affect drag. Then again, the rounded rear of the Road Master wasn’t imo exactly a iconic design. Thanks for dragging me into your world for a minute with this.

    One thing I will say definitively is, please, for the love of Baal, do NOT put 20” wheels with 30-aspect tires on it! I recently saw a fuselage Ford with massive Torqueflites and thin tires and it reinforced my opinion that the classic muscle shape needs some damn sidewall. Or, conversely, can you design a wheel that visually adds that mass back on the outer rim of the wheel without going to the played-out all-black wheel?

    This was fun: keep ‘’em comin’!

    1. I’ve mentioned it on previous comments, but it bears reiterating. Cars don’t need to LOOK aero efficient to BE aero efficient. It’s not about no creases or sharp edges, or having a particular shape. It’s more about managing the flows and reducing turbulence. Things like flush glazing, smooth surfaces and managing airflow through the vehicle have a much greater impact. It’s about lots of little gains all over the vehicle.
      We can have a bluff front if is mostly closed off. This is why modern vehicles have active cooling vents that shutter off the grill at higher speeds when the motor runs cooler.
      I agree a lot of classic cars don’t need massive wheels – I see so many custom builds from high end shops where they completely over wheel them and it looks terrible! (it doesn’t work because the body proportions were not designed around those gigantic wheel sizes).

      1. It helps to start with a more aerodynamic shape. What is your target Cd value? That is going to dictate what you need to do to the shape you choose. A wagon with a long wheelbase lends itself well to all sorts of ways to cut wind resistance due to its inherent proportions. It is more in-line with an ideal teardrop shape than say, a hatchback, minivan, or pickup truck, giving you the chance to start with a very efficient shape. The stepped roofline would not be good for drag(especially from the increase in frontal area), although if you insist on including it, the closer to the front of the roofline that you place the step, the more opportunity you have to taper the rear. The trick is to keep the flow laminar over as much of the vehicle as you can, and then once the flow becomes turbulent, create as little disturbance as possible and to try to keep the pressure as even as possible to reduce the size of the wake in the rear. The stepped roofline does give an opportunity to re-attach airflow if you have flow separation before the air reaches it, although if you design the front end properly, this won’t be an issue.

        Since it’s electric, you may want to consider the possibility of AWD, and having a rear track slightly more narrow than the front track. This would be a great opportunity for a Kammtail.

        A few vehicles you may want to study for design cues:
        -Eliica electric limousine (0.19 drag coefficient)
        -Dave Cloud’s “Dolphin”, converted Geo Metro (Did 200 miles range highway on lead acid batteries)
        -Volvo LCP2000 (0.25 drag coefficient)
        -2005 Mercedes Bionic (0.19 drag coefficient)

        While they don’t have the proportions you’re looking for, they are shapes that allow lots of interior room and headroom. The Eliica especially could tell you a lot about what you might be able to do to keep drag low, while getting the aesthetics and proportions you are after.

  38. This is the coolest thing ever. As a kid, my dream job was to design cars. It’s truly art, and I love seeing a designers imagination come to life on a vehicle. Just so. Damn. Cool. I can’t decide which is the best here, but it’s between 1, 2, and 4.

    1. Mine too. I wound up as an architect – what are you doing now?
      1, 4 and 6 are my favorites. I see a Dodge and Cadillac in 1 and 4. 6 feels the most original.

      I like the wood on 4 and 6. Seems like Jeep could have done something unique with wood in a manor like this for the Grand Wagoneer.

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