Sad news if you were hoping to see fender skirts return to the automotive design mainstream; according to Automotive News, General Motors has already spent a fair chunk of time and money investigating whether or not adding the aero pieces could lead to increased fuel economy.

As it turns out, covering the rear fender wells could indeed go a long way toward making vehicles more aerodynamic, but the costs and drawbacks associated with applying the pieces are too steep for production. For starters, manufacturers would have to run narrower tires at the rear of the vehicle, possibly decreasing handling prowess at the same time.

In addition, GM found that running fender skirts causes tire pressures to increase dramatically, potentially leading to and increased likelihood of tire failure. That's not something that any automaker wants to induce in a production vehicle.

Then there's the fact that adding fender skirts to a vehicle would invariably add to production costs. At the end of the day, the domestic automaker found that fender skirts simply aren't worth any additional aerodynamic advantage given the risks and costs associated with their use. Oh, and most consumers don't really seem to like them, either...


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 51 Comments
      teamplayers99
      • 3 Years Ago
      Off topic but... That picture is 20 years old already? Where does the time go
        Tommy
        • 3 Years Ago
        @teamplayers99
        Yeah I know, although I was born in 1990 I miss the 90's. I had a great time growing up in them
      Edward
      • 3 Years Ago
      It certainly makes sense that restricting airflow to the rear tires would raise their temperature, my biggest concern up here in the frozen north is packed ice in the wheel wells, which is bad enough without closing off a way to get rid of it. If you haven't seen the enormous fender turds that rust bodies and cut mileage by their weight and rubbing on the tires, you just don't know how bad it is
      Rob
      • 3 Years Ago
      The cars are styled in a way now that skirts will look silly on the majority of them. Leave them on the old classics where they belong. They had their day in the sun and enjoy if your fortunate enough to have a car from that era
      RWD
      • 3 Years Ago
      What about them makes rear tire pressure increase dramatically? Anyone know?
      Landis
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is interesting. I know when they took them off the Cadillac Deville in 1997, it actually looked better. I know I have enjoyed them on different models over the years from GM and Ford/Lincoln. I now know if Oldsmobile ever returns someday and the Ninety Eight should return someday, the rear wheels will not be skirted. I own two Oldsmobiles. I have a 1995 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight and a 1992 Oldsmobile Toronado and the rear wheels are skirted on the Ninety Eight. That is fine. I can live with that. There are other ways to make a car look luxurious. Formal roof lines being one of the ways. I will admit when washing my car the skirted rear wheels are a pain to wash and clean.
        07StangGT
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Landis
        Had a 76 ninety-eight with 455bhp, skirts and all...car rocked. Like a living room on wheels. Not this p##sy a$$ small car crap of today. Cars today will never be big enough to warrant skirts. Maybe on a newly designed Bentley, Cadillac or Rolls.
        Christopher Glowacki
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Landis
        it is awesome that you have a 92 Oldsmobile Toronado. for 5 years of my life i owned a 1991 Toronado Trofeo coupe. it was the first car i owned and a damn fine car. wish i still had it
      Rotation
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't have anything against them. They can look good on the right car. They work on the Jaguar XJR-11.
      Ducman69
      • 3 Years Ago
      That article is such a load of bull. The caps can be made from very thin polymer adding next to no weight or width to the vehicle, and the consumer would likewise not notice if the vehicle were a couple centimeter wider, nor would the vehicle be more prone to rollover from such a minuscule change either. You can find countless similar "studies" from penny pushers at GM that time and time again tried to put a cheaper solid rear axle on the Corvette, citing that the average owner would not notice the difference and it reduces costs and complexity and bla bla bla. Fender caps, just like IRS, is a performance enhancing modification that makes sense on vehicles that are designed for high speed or economy. The real reason that skirts are not in widespread use is the same reason that almost every car manufactured today has far larger diameter wheels than it needs or why Mustangs had so many fake scoops or not only non-functional but aerodynamically degrading spoilers... STYLING.
        Dump
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ducman69
        Correct. You know styling is a major factor in today's automotive industry, right? Especially, in the billion-dollar aftermarket industry --- whether the modification makes sense or not; or even works. It may all boil down to the fact that not many consumers were selecting the rear fender option or weren't buying vehicles that had fenders included. I, personally, don't care for them. I like when the rear tire width actually extend out to the body panels --- that feature gives any vehicle a more aggressive stance. And depending on the wheel/rim selection, it won't add much unsprung weight or degrade driving dynamics or fuel consumption ratings.
      sur4die98
      • 3 Years Ago
      None of the cons listed in the article are insurmountable. add cooling ducts, make skirts standard/not optional, design the rear quarter to accept both wider tires and skirts from inception. The only insurmountable problem with wheel skirts are perception and personal preference.
      Basil Exposition
      • 3 Years Ago
      That is a handsome Caprice
      lne937s
      • 3 Years Ago
      Taking a look at the Jaguar XJR12 and Peugeot 905lm. 20 years ago Jaguar figured out how to make a car with fender skirts that ran for 24 hours at Le Mans with no tire failures and had the "handling prowess" to win the race 1-2. In 1993, Peugeot finished 1-2-3 at Le Mans in a car with fender skirts... http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=jaguar+xjr12+le+mans&view=detail&id=096F444EBF6C0785CFA685E15FFF4F95A2E524C9&first=0&FORM=IDFRIR So I think a competent automaker could make a car with functioning fender skirts if they actually wanted to and they thought the public would buy it.
      tenspeeder
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wheel spats are hideous. Glad not to see them returning
        Christopher Anderson
        • 3 Years Ago
        @tenspeeder
        I have to agree. They make the front and rear look unbalanced with different shape wheel wells.
      artandcolour2010
      • 3 Years Ago
      THOSE ARE NOT FENDER SKIRTS IN THE PHOTO OF THE CAPRICE. Those are just lower rear fender openings. There is no separate cover, or skirt over the wheel opening. Was it really too much work to find a photo of a car with actual fender skirts? My '64 Tbird and '68 Cadillac had them. The last Cadillac Brougham had them in the mid '90s. Hell, even the first Honda Insight had them. All of the "reasons" are crap given in the story as well. They could all be easily overcome if one high-end carmaker came out with them. Everyone would be scrambling to add them, but right now, it's just a matter of styling.
    • Load More Comments