Do you think the stock car racingaero war ended in 1970? NASCAR rules may have dealt an evolutionary death blow to the winged Mopars, and nixed Ford’s King Cobras as the prototypes emerged, but it didn’t eliminate wind cheating designs. In the ensuing decades, Detroit learned that the challenges of meeting CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards and increasing racetrack speeds could be served by continuing to improve aerodynamics, often with pleasing visual results. We can think of a few post “aero wars” examples, like the 1975 Chevy Chevelle Laguna S-3. Its laid-back front fascia helped lower the coupe’s drag coefficient. Buick affixed a similar design to its mid-’70s Special and Century, and Olds didn’t hesitate to lay back the front end of its Cutlass 442, though its superspeedway prowess began in ’78. This was the subtle aero war, a trend that continued when NASCAR finally embraced Detroit’s downsized intermediates for 1981.
Buick’s Regal was an instant hit, taking 47 wins in 61 races through 1982. Ford’s nine wins during that span led to a completely redesigned, well-rounded Thunderbird, while Chevy’s embarrassing four wins (one by a Malibu, another by a four-year-old Monte Carlo) led to the reintroduction of the Monte Carlo SS, which included a sleek windswept nose with a flush-mounted integral grille. The new SS helped land Chevy a season high 14 wins in 1983, and another 21 a year later. But by 1985, Ford regained momentum and the two makes ended the season with 14 wins each.
For 1986, Chevy brass tasked its engineers with creating an enhanced Monte Carlo SS that would further reduce drag at triple-digit track speeds.