Just been driving Renault’s latest Clio 197 Cup, in poverty specification but with black lacquered alloys, red brake calipers (both these signaling the Cup chassis) a tailgate wing that would be the envy of a model plane maker and some rather sexy extractor vents let into the front wings.
It’s painted white, too, which makes the wheels and vents look all the more dramatic - amazing how these detail changes like this get the car stared at by young blokes.
It’s the wing vents that got me into auto trivia mode though, as I found myself wondering when the trend for extracting air from the front wheel-arches kicked off. Probably at least half a century ago, in fact, with the 1958 Aston Martin DB4 wearing those now famous twin slots in its front wings, Aston sensibly persisting with this pretty individual trademark all the way to today.
The BMW Z3 and M3 have extractors too, as do assorted Corvettes, the Viper and various Ferraris, the vent forming part of a looping crease line along the flanks of these cars. Hyundai picked up on the Ferrari 456 GT’s treatment for its current coupe, while Land Rover introduced the elegant vertical vent into the front wings of the Range Rover at much the same time; an arrangement that has extended, a little unconvincingly, to its cousin the Jaguar XJ.
And the new Mitsubishi Evo X has them too. So they’ve been around for a while, front wing vents - you’ll find a trio of baby ones on ‘50s Oldsmobiles in fact, as well as Maseratis - but right now they seem to be an essential visual flourish of any front-engined car with a hot engine under its bonnet. I like ‘em, too, but I wonder how long it will be before they become yesterday’s fashion.