When Chrysler stylists put a basket-handle "sport bar" atop the new PT Cruiser four-seat convertible, they intended no more serious duty for the hydroformed steel hoop than to add some stiffening and keep the car from looking like a rolling claw-foot tub. It was a cute but basically nonfunctional styling item--never intended to be a roll bar and not part of the convertible-top mechanism.
But when they put the Pete into Chrysler's wind tunnel, a synergistic benefit became apparent: The airfoil-like sport bar rebounds the airflow that comes over the windshield before it tumbles into backseat turbulence. You'll still have a bad-hair day at highway speeds in the rear seat of a PT droptop, but far less so than in its VW New Beetle and Ford Mustang counterparts.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.