Alfa Romeo Super Flow I by Pininfarina

One of the most disappointing things to realize is that—apart from a few exceptions, of course—shapes that look aerodynamic to the untrained eye are often not. As designers, engineers, and racers began to make their vehicles more slippery in order to increase top speeds, there seemed to be a period in the Jet Age '50s when those on the bleeding edge ended up designing vehicles that looked fit for Speed Racer.

Both Alfa Romeo and Pininfarina were riding this bleeding edge, and by the mid-'50s had begun to experiment with new materials. Much like Horacio Pagani and Koenigsegg these days, the elite coachbuilders found themselves trying to walk the line between classic forms and technology—and in the process ended up creating cars like this.

The Super Flow I debuted at the 1956 Turin Motor Show, wearing this beautiful body that creatively blends metal with its Plexiglass front fenders, front grille "bulge" that extends over the hood, and roof. The front fenders are especially unique, stretching from the tip of the front bumper all the way to the base of the windshield. The body was placed onto an ex-Works Alfa Romeo 6C 3000 CM that finished second at the 1953 Mille Miglia in the hands of a certain Mr Fangio. Oh yes.

With a weapons-grade chassis and powertrain, the few months the car existed in this form would have probably been spent flying around Italy's B-roads and Autostrade—and what a sight that must have been. That's right: a few months. With chassis in short supply and different ideas for its future cars, Pininfarina (and other carrozzeria) would regularly update its bodies over time, like plastic surgeons compensating for their clients' ever-ageing bodies.

This car quickly lost its Plexiglass front fender and badge bulge, then its fins and—if I'm honest—the final Super Flow IV form it survives in today is a bit boring