RAC Cars News


The thin end of the wedge

By raccars Published


Some of the most eye-catching car designs ever sport the wedge shaped, sharkish front end.

Wedge shaped cars have exerted a strange fascination over car buyers since (arguably) the first demonstration of the shape on the Alfa Romeo Carabo concept of 1968. Famous examples include the Lamborghini Countach, the Fiat X/19 and the Lancia Stratos but other car makers soon realised that the Italians were onto something. While manufacturers have long worked to design the ultimate in sinuous curves, the wedge shape comes along regularly in all its glory to make all else around it look rather fey in comparison.

Great examples of the wedge shaped design

Aston Martin Lagonda

Aston Martin's luxury saloon saw jaws hitting the floor upon its release in 1976. The Lagonda was sensational in many ways, with the first digital instrument panel fitted to a production model and bold, angular, if rather controversial looks. It was also famously unreliable. There were 645 units made from 1976-1990 and Aston Martin is currently working on bringing the Lagonda name back in a new luxury saloon model.


The German firm's only attempt at a mid-engined sports model was one of the first accessible supercars. The car was created, through many trials and tribulations, to comply with changes to the rules of Group Five racing. BMW co-opted Lamborghini for the project, whose designer Giorgetto Giugiaro came up with its aerodynamically efficient and low slung shape. While BMW soon parted ways with the financially challenged Italian firm and Group Five racing had been abolished by the time the car was complete in 1978, 453 examples of the M1 were made. It's now highly collectible.

Mercedes-Benz C 111

This was a rather bizarre experiment which saw Mercedes try to combine sharp, sharkish angles with muscular curves. The interesting result was made of fibreglass and used a bombastic Wankel rotary engine apparently capable of 180 mph. In true Seventies style, it was bright orange and accessible via gullwing doors. It broke a number of racing circuit records, but the C 111 never made the production line.

Rover SD1

1977's European Car of the Year was said to be based upon the Ferrari Daytona and became a favourite of UK police forces. Although strictly a large executive saloon in format, its wedge shape made the SD1 stand out among its softer looking rivals and helped it to achieve considerable racing success in the touring car arena. More than 300,000 SD1s were built but as a British Leyland model, there were inevitable questions over its build quality and a number of reliability issues.

DeLorean DMC-12

Easily more famous for its appearances in the 'Back to the Future' film series and its troubled creator's business entanglements, the DeLorean was an early Eighties model which used the gullwing doors made popular in the previous decade and an unpainted body shell made of stainless steel. The DeLorean enjoys cult favourite status and is said to be going back into production - on a small scale only - in 2017 in the USA. Just hold on tight when you hit 88 miles per hour...

Lotus Esprit

It's not only a great car in its own right but the Lotus Esprit was also James Bond's car in the 1977 film 'The Spy Who Loved Me', where it famously transformed into a submarine. It's an instantly recognisable, quintessentially Seventies design that somehow still looks stylish and feels great to drive.

Lamborghini Countach

The subject of countless bedroom wall posters, the Countach was made from 1974-1990 with a mid mounted V12 and a distinctive angular shape. 2,049 of them were built and are currently feeling the love as the young boys of a few decades ago reach the age and financial status to finally accomplish their boyhood dreams of scissor doors and fast Italian metal.

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