WINGS CAUSE BIG FLAP
Major automobile manufacturers--both foreign and domestic--are being sued for more than $14,000,000 in a class action suit filed by Steve Willits of Sandlip, Nevada, on behalf of all car buyers who have paid extra to have fiberglass "wings" installed on the back of their vehicles because "such devices can not possibly serve any useful function," according to the suit.
"The aerodynamic devices known as 'wings' have been sold to hundreds of thousands of new car buyers with the implication that they will somehow improve the performance of the vehicle," Willits told reporters at a news conference held in Las Vegas late yesterday afternoon.
"Despite what auto makers would have us believe, these devices are actually nothing more than simple cosmetic protuberances," he said, "and their intrinsic value is only a fraction of the amount unsuspecting customers have paid to have them installed on their vehicles."
Mike Landfell, Professor of Automotive Design and Engineering at a prominent southwestern university, told the gathering of reporters that "aerodynamic spoilers--commonly referred to as wings--were first used on race cars to provide positive traction for the rear wheels at high speeds.
"The wind flowing over the vehicle exerts a downward pressure on the wing and, ultimately, the rear end of the car," Professor Landfell explained. "This improves stability, traction, and cornering at the target speed, making the car safer and easier to handle."
When pressed for a definition of "target speed," Professor Landfell said that, "it depends on many things, including the angle of attack of the wing, but ANY effect experienced at speeds below 140 miles per hour would be negligible."
"The speed necessary to make the 'wing 'functional is at the core of our suit," attorney Willits said. "Not only is it illegal to go 140 miles per hour on any public highway in the country, but none of the standard production vehicles of the type that have commonly had the so-called 'wing' installed can even go that fast."
"In effect, the unsuspecting customer has been bilked into paying several hundred dollars for a device that can not possibly be of any functional value. If any one of these 'wings' had been purchased purely as a cosmetic accessory, it's value would be no more than $20 or $30 in most cases. This suit seeks the return of the amounts in excess of that figure paid by the unsuspecting public, plus double punitive damages."
The only person connected with the industry who would comment on the suit was Michael Ojibwa, Regional Sales Manager for Afghan Automotive, importers of the popular 3-wheel Difunghe. He said that "a 'wing' has never been offered as an option of any of our cars-- and it never will."
The Difunghe is easily recognized by the single, two-foot high vertical fin which bisects it from windshield to tailgate. The fin is said to act much like the rudder of an airplane at highway speeds, thus providing additional stability.