We love cars with box arches because they represent a golden era of homologation specials, but which one wore the box arched look best?
Says here smoking kills, but back in the day cigarettes kept racing alive. From touring cars to the top tier of the GT classes, racing cars looked cool because of two things: some Philip Morris colours, and box arches.
Manufacturers used to satisfy rulemakers’ demands with their road going models by usually offering a limited production series of homologated specials, and because all sorts of aspects were governed such as engine mounts and suspension pick-up points and windscreen angles, the road cars would often come out looking very much like the race cars.
That meant us enthusiasts got loads of legendary machines like Delta Integrales, E30 M3s and Audi quattros. Box arches perfectly represent this obsessive pursuit of performance – a fully engineering driven design feature, box arches are little more than, um, some boxed arches, giving little heed to style in favour of ruthless rules. By flaring the wings, manufacturers could fit wider wheels and tyres and increase the track dimensions improving handling, and that function-over-form concept is precisely why cars with box arches look so damn gorgeous.
They transcend mere purpose and begin to appeal in artistic terms, even with their harsh motives, measurable only by the stopwatch.
Petrolheads however see box arches as more than just tools and some of these cars we measure on an emotional scale. Which one wore them best though? Which car really epitomises the box-arched look?
For our argument we present the Maserati Shamal’s case, named after a Middle Eastern wind with fantastic box arches put there by the hand of Marcello Gandini himself. Although beautiful, the Shamal’s hips are relatively tame compared to some other ‘80s and ’90s specials so if you’ve got a better argument, by all means present it to us in the comments below.