With its Elva roadster, McLaren Automotive wanted to re-create the look and experience of open-top racing cars from the 1960s. In those days, the smaller the windshield, the better.
But on its new $1.82 million car, McLaren was able to go with no windshield at all, thanks to a new active air management system.
The system brings air into the front of the vehicle, where it is forced through a hook-shaped duct that exits at the top of the front hood. As the speed increases, a Gurney flap rises from the hood to better control the air flow.
Through this process, the air is turned 120 degrees, sent up and slightly over as it exits the surface of the vehicle, right over the cockpit. This leaves the car's occupants in a "relative bubble of calm," McLaren says.
"It enhances the concept of the car in a big way," said Dan Parry-Williams, McLaren's director of engineering design.
He said the system works comfortably at normal road speeds up to 80 mph. It will need to be turned off at about 93 mph.
When the system is on, he said, "you don't have the air blasting in your face."
The system was developed specifically for the Elva, and McLaren plans to build only 249 of them. Customers can opt for an Elva with a windshield; that version does not have the active air management system.