Hall points to the American Underslung automobiles of the early 1900s as among the first vehicles to be designed with a sporty appearance. In addition to having long hoods and rear-biased passenger compartments, their axles were hung under the frame rails, and their engines, transmissions and bodies were mounted between them, instead of on top. These features lent American Underslung cars a relatively low and sporty appearance compared to other contemporary vehicles - especially with their 40-inch-diameter wheels. We also imagine that handling benefited from the low center of gravity afforded by mounting components lower.
Watch the video below to find out how the same basic design elements have been applied to vastly different sports cars over the years to get that same elegant yet athletic look - and why sports car proportions have never really changed.