Mirror mirror on the...


God is in the details

Like tens of thousands of other petrolheads, we too made our annual pilgrimage this June to what has become the most prestigeous motoring event in the world bar none. With the exception perhaps of the Monaco Grand Prix, the Goodwood Festival of Speed is the go to event. This year for the first time we were lucky enough to spend the whole four days surrounded by the biggest and best car (and bike) collection in the world. Well maybe apart from Jay Leno’s.

As you wonder around you get a growing sense of disbelief at the shear variety of simply stunning machinery present. You even get to be a bit blasé. And judgemental. It’s only natural that you start to compare and contrast the details while building your shopping list for your dream Christmas. And that’s when we noticed an item that we kind of take for granted, but in reality gives real meaning to that well known saying of Mies van der Rohe – “God is in the details”.

So what are we talking about? What caught our eye? The humble wing mirror.

Well we say humble but in fact we reckon that this one item alone expresses just how much serious effort has been put into the design of a car. And believe us some of the most exotic cars appear to have had little attention lavished upon them when it comes to looking backwards. But maybe it’s just plain arrogance when you have a top speed of over 200mph…

So petrolheads of the world, we proudly bring you:-

The NGK Torque Top Ten Wing Mirrors in the world

10. TVR Cerbera Speed 12

TVR Speed 12

Like so many of the products that sallied forth from the TVR’s Blackpool factory, the Speed 12 probably had 95% of it’s development budget spent on the engine. Mind you in this case it was a V12 rumoured to push out something in the region of 1000 horsepower. So fair play. But when it came to looking backwards, seems like they’d definitely blown the budget so they resorted to stealing them off Skodas.

9. Ferrari F40

Ferrari F40

Can’t be many times that the Ferrari F40 comes near the bottom of anyone’s top 10. But on this occasion the design boys at Maranello obviously had their eyes on other things. Probably that outrageous rear wing. Hence the singularly ugly lump of Fiat plastic they appended to one of the world’s most iconic cars. Mind you when the twin turbos kick in don’t suppose looking behind you is the major concern…

8. Mazda RX500

Mazda RX500

Straight from the set of Thunderbirds, this little beauty really is something to behold. Attached to the concept car Mazda first revealed in 1970 at the Tokyo Motor Show. Not sure what all the venting is about. If indeed it is about anything at all. But at least they made the effort. Apparently the 491cc rotary engine that powered the RX500 was a little goer too with a top speed of almost 150mph.

7. Mercury Park Lane

Mercury Park Lane

Different era, but definitely space race inspired. This sci fi wing mirror wouldn’t look out of place in a Dan Dare comic strip. Needless to say the rest of the car continues the theme of restraint in the design department…not! For those Detroit boys the 1950s was a golden age of design and no opportunity was lost to express it to the nth degree. Even if it was an acquired taste. Personally we love it!

6. Porsche 959 Prototype Gruppe B

Porsche 959 Gruppe B

When Porsche designed the 959 they apparently were after one thing and one thing only. To rest the fastest road car crown from the Ferrari. Super slippery, eye wateringly expensive to develop and build, the 959 was a technical tour de force. When it came to the wing mirror department, they didn’t stint in their design efforts here either. More slippery than a box of frogs.

5. Ford GT Mustang 350

Ford GT Mustang

You only have to look at the wing mirror to see where they got the name for the film. Sweet and simple. The classic racer’s wing mirror. With something extra added. Essence of McQueen. Just bite the bullet and go.

4. BMW M4


For a mass produced car, we have to say that the wing mirrors on the new M4 certainly take some beating. One can only ponder how much time they spent in the wind tunnel creating these. Simple they ain’t. Hate to think though how much they cost to replace when some idiot gets to close and wipes the smile and the mirror off your pride and joy. We know a certain Mr Clarkson isn’t impressed but we say top marks for effort.

3. Pagani Huayra

Pagani Huayra

The day Pagani do boring is the day we might as well as pack up and go pedal power. Their lavish attention to design detail is now legendary. As are their cars. The Huarya (or Hurrah as we like to call it) is the epitome of design in action and this piece of automotive art almost made first place. Its carbon fibre swan neck, topped with a tear drop of exquisite proportions is poetry in motion. The rest of the car isn’t bad either.

2. Derek Bell + Bentley GT V8S

Derek Bell

The thousand yard stare of a five times winner of Le Mans is what makes this a wing mirror worthy of attention. OK the searing yellow paint job on a Bentley was a bit of an attention getter too. Can’t imagine what Derek Bell was thinking. Maybe he had his sights set on the Porsche 917 in the paddock. Or perhaps he was just thinking how damn good looking he still is!

1. McLaren MP4/4


In 1988 McLaren won 15 out of 16 of that seasons races and their two drivers spared no effort to take the title from the other. Of the two Alain Prost came second. The man who won was Ayrton Senna da Silva. This is the wing mirror on car in which he won at Spa that year. It certainly isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing of those listed here. Truth be told it’s hardly better than the one fitted on the Cerbera. But if wing mirrors could tell stories…

OK so you noticed that our top two have something in common. Well at the end of the day a piece of carbon fibre, plastic or whatever is just that. In our opinion it’s the people that bring them to life. Make them special. No doubt you’ll have your own opinion, so don’t keep it to yourself!

Published on 12th July 2014