Fender skirts

Fender skirts

Fender skirts, known in Australia as spats, are pieces of bodywork that cover the upper portions of the rear tires of an automobile. They are typically detachable to allow for tire changes.

They are implemented for both aesthetic and aerodynamic reasons. Rather than air flowing into and being trapped in the rear wheel well, it flows smoothly over the bodywork. Automakers have also experimented with front wheel fender skirts, as on the 1950-1954 Nash Rambler, but with success limited by the fact that the front wheels must pivot for steering.

Fender skirts were first seen on the Chrysler Airflow and spread to many American cars in the 1940s. By the 1970s, they began to disappear. Fender skirts remained for some time longer on a few cars, particularly large American luxury cars.

They were often paired with whitewall tires. The extent of the skirt also varied, before the 50s it was common for all but the bottom inches of the rear tire to be covered, while by the 60s fender skirts only covered a few inches of the top of the tire and were largely absent afterwards. For example, up until 1996, the Chevrolet Caprice, Oldsmobile 98, Buick Skylark, Oldsmobile Achieva, Buick Roadmaster, Cadillac Deville, Cadillac Fleetwood, and General Motors EV1 all had fender skirts. However, most of these models were eliminated after 1997. The Deville name survived, but was redesigned and the fender skirts were removed.

In European automobile design, notably Citroën used fender skirts on nearly all models produced between 1950 and 1990, most prominently in the DS, 2CV,
Ami, GS, SM, BX and CX.

As of 2005 only the Honda Insight comes with the once common fender skirts, although they are available for some new cars as aftermarket accessories.

Some cities, such as Los Angeles, have fender skirts on municipal buses, as they can prevent items in the road from slipping under the tires.

ee also

*Pontoon fenders

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