Of all the people longing to drive the Oldsmobile Aerotech back in the 1980s, you'd expect that the cars designer would have taken it for a few spins. Despite having his first sketch for the project turn in to the record-setting aerodynamic research vehicle, Ed Welburn's closest contact with the Aerotech was during long wind tunnel sessions.
Having risen through the ranks during his nearly-40 year career at General Motors, Welburn is now oversees GM's worldwide design staff, and his memory was recently jogged by seeing photos of the Aerotech posted in a design studio. Being the chief has its privileges, so Welburn's desire to drive his creation turned into a trip to the Milford proving grounds, where a 1992 version of the Aerotech was waiting.
A Chevrolet Corvette set the pace at a sedate 60-something miles per hour, despite the Aerotech's V8 sourced from the Oldsmobile Aurora. While he may have only just gotten to drive the Aerotech, the car has had a significant effect on Welburn since he first penned it. The aerodynamic attention to detail he learned on the Aerotech has informed all his work since then. The Chevrolet Volt owes a lot to the Aerotech, because Welburn had the patience and discipline to work out the design for better airflow, as well as bring engineering and design together for a harmonious relationship, another seldom-seen skill among car designers. While the Oldsmobile brand has been shuttered, the Aerotech stands as a significant achievement, and the various speed and endurance records the car set have yet to be broken.
[Source: Detroit Free Press | Image: Karrmann via CC 2.0]