The Supra suffers from buffeting with the windows down. Our solution? Homemade A-pillar vortex generators.

CarAndDriver, By Esra Dyer

© CarAndDriver | Watch Us Fix Toyota Supra's Most Annoying Problem with Cardboard and a Roll of Tape

The Toyota Supra is a fine car named one of our 2020 10Best Cars, in fact.

But it has a small yet significant problem: with the windows down at 50 mph, the wind buffeting is unpleasant.

Watch the video below to see our unorthodox fix, which worked on a practical level if not on an aesthetic one.

We're big fans of the Supra around here, as evidenced by its presence on the 10Best list. But no car is perfect, and the Supra exhibits one particularly aggravating tendency: severe buffeting with the windows down. It starts at about 45 mph and then steadily intensifies. By 50 mph, it feels like you're in a four-door where someone suddenly opened a rear window there's a rhythmic bass-drum flutter accompanied by the unpleasant sensation that your eardrums are trying to escape into the slipstream.

A few years back, our own John Pearley Huffman wrote a piece explaining why this happens. Basically: if cars are well-sealed and have clean, controlled air flowing past the windows, they'll be more susceptible to the Helmholtz Resonance, which is the fancy science name for that throbbing wind noise that causes you to mash the rear window button while screaming, "Why are you even rolling the window down back there? It's 27 degrees out!" Kids love to set up a good Helmholtz Resonance.

You usually deal with the problem by rolling down the opposite window. But that doesn't help in the Supra the problem is at its worst with both windows all the way down. But if the airflow over the window openings is the problem, then that suggests a simple solution: disrupt that airflow.

To do that, I decided to fashion makeshift vortex generators out of some spare cardboard leftover from a flat-pack basketball hoop. Now, before all the aeronautical engineers chime in and claim that you can't make vortex generators out of cardboard and tape, let me point out that I have only a very rudimentary grasp on how these things work, and anybody with airplane wing problems would be best served to consult someone else. But I do know that the Civic Type R has vortex generators on the trailing edge of the roof, with the idea that they detach the air from the rear window and keep it up high, where it can act on the wing. Hey, I want to get air away from the glass, too! So let me tape a row of shark teeth to the A-pillar.

And, because this is a Supra, your modification decision tree inevitably includes the question, "What would Ludacris do?" The answer, in this case, is that he'd paint his vortex generators neon green. Good call, Luda! With these handsome and understated aftermarket aero devices firmly taped to the windshield, I set off to test my theory.

At 40 mph, I rolled the windows down and gingerly accelerated into the Helmholtz Zone. And . . . no buffeting! I went a little faster, settling in at 50 mph, and to my surprise the Supra cabin was serene. The cardboard air disturbers actually worked. Perhaps they weren't working as actual vortex generators, but the thesis held: If a resonance depends on a rhythmic cycle, then introducing some chaos might just prevent that cycle from getting established in the first place. In layman's terms, I made the air go all kablooie to who knows where. And it was effective, although we have to add that we don’t know how much our homemade contraptions hurt fuel economy.

At the Supra launch, Toyota engineers told everyone that they expected the car to be modded. Well, here you go, Supra owners! Effective as they are beautiful, our A-pillar flow-messer-uppers are your next aftermarket must. They might even work in other colors, too.

This article was originally published in CarAndDriver.
Previous Post Next Post