Oil Consumption in the Old Days

That’s interesting. Never knew he had a glass eye.

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The Rolls Royce Merlin used a 12-cylinder engine made for airplanes in a car. Jay Leno has one. It requires oil in the gas. Jay says he has to tow a Jiffy Lube behind him.

And, serious injuries were not limited to drivers. One of my elementary school classmates was very badly disfigured by a serious accident in which his father’s car was involved, and because he was not restrained, he ripped the left side of his face open on–something–when his head hit the dashboard.

He–literally–looked like two different people, depending on which side of his face you saw. If you viewed him from the right, he looked like a “normal” kid. If you viewed him from the left, the scarring and deformation were horrific, and seeing him from the front was very strange because the two sides of his face looked totally different. Even his hairline on the left side of his face was “off” by a couple of inches.

Over the years I lost track of him, but I am hopeful that modern plastic surgery has allowed him to get the left side of his face restored to a more normal appearance.

But besides safety and maintenance, would anyone today even consider buying a car without air conditioning, power steering and with a bucket seat that actually reminds you of sitting in a bucket?
For anyone who missed the “Good Old Pre-AC Days” and wants a taste, just spend half an hour parked in the sun, windows down, engine running and AC off and you’ll get the idea.

Well, I wouldn’t but there is at least one member of this forum who craves cars w/o A/C and power steering, and with wind-up windows.

I have a friend whose car has A/C, but he refuses to use it because he is “Old School”. Apparently, “Old School” is a synonym for being incredibly cheap. :smirk:

The last time that he arrived at my house during hot weather, his face was so red that I feared it would explode, and his clothing was thoroughly soaked with perspiration. The most concerning part was that, after driving at expressway speeds for more than an hour with the windows down, his hearing was clearly diminished. Luckily, after a few hours, his hearing had improved.


Old cars were better set up to run with the windows down than modern cars. Modern aerodynamics has made it so that running at speed with the windows down can create loud buffeting that focuses directly on your left ear, which is no fun. You can usually ease that buffeting a bit by opening the sunroof or 1 or both rear passenger windows, but that doesn’t always eliminate the problem 100%. And you still have to deal with the incredible loudness that is a well-traveled freeway.

Old cars were also better set up to run with the windows down for some non-car-related reasons. Men wore hats as a matter of course, which eliminated the problem we hatless men have today of looking like we’ve been in a wind tunnel after a windows-down drive. Women generally also wore head coverings, to the same effect. When I was in college driving a late-80’s car with no air conditioning, I’d have to roll the passenger window all the way down and just barely crack the driver’s window when I drove it to class or work, because otherwise I got out of the car looking like Don King.

And people were not as used to spending most of their time in air conditioned environments. Today we can go entire weeks without ever going outside, especially where I live. Minneapolis has a skyway system that connects many of the downtown buildings via the 2nd story, so it’s entirely possible for an office worker to start her day in her attached garage, drive to a parking garage downtown, and then walk through the skyway to the office having never set foot in a non-air-conditioned environment.


Yes, wing windows and kick panel vents provided much better air circulation without the Don King whirlwind.


While I agree with you in general, the worst car I’ve had for buffeting was a Jeep Cherokee Chief (the XJ), all the aero of a brick.

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My “Old School” friend has a Scion IQ, which lacks a sunroof, and whose rear windows do not open. The wind noise in that tiny car at expressway speeds must be deafening, as evidenced by what happened to his hearing after ~70 minutes of driving like that.

In case you were wondering, he is also “Old School” at home, where he sits in front of one electric fan when it is sweltering. Of course, this does nothing to lower the humidity, but to quote him, “I’d rather sweat and stink instead of paying for A/C”. Trust me–he does both, which is probably one of the reasons why his current wife no longer lives with him.


There’s cheap, and then there’s stupid. My dad was on the border - if mom asked him to pick up steaks for dinner, he’d drive all over the city looking for the best price. This was kind of dumb, because he spent several dollars burning gas to save maybe 50 cents on the meat.

He also spec’d his new '84 Tercel without air conditioning. At the time we lived up in the Rockies outside of Albuquerque, where it was very dry and rarely got much above 80 degrees, so he could get away with it. But as soon as we moved to Virginia, with its much higher humidity and higher temperatures as well, mom badgered him into having an AC installed so he wouldn’t show up to the office looking like he’d gone swimming in his suit.

I suspect without mom’s influence dad might have been more like your friend.

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Agree 100% about the wing windows I don’t know the why of not putting them in some cars but if you look at body style of modern cars I think some could be still be made that way I think the floor vents went out with front wheel drive with the sideways engines there was no room left to put them.

In regard to oil consumption my old cars never used that much. On a trip to CA from OK my 59 Corvette never needed to have any oil added. (Checked at 500 miles intervals along the way)
Unfortunately after a week in CA there was no further danger of that after wiping the car clean out.
The trip back to OK was in a 1960 Chrysler New Yorker with a 413. Right at 1500 miles one way and needed nothing except one flat tire replaced.

As for VW and contact points the recommendation is every 12k miles but that is not necessary as long as a few ground rules are followed. And they seldom are.
The condenser is always replaced. Distributor cam lube is used; always. The latter is often omitted. That in turn leads to block wear on the points which leads to the points closing up and burning because of it. All because of omitting 1 drop of lube…
This is true of any car that uses contact points. In the day of my CP cars I always got 25 to 30k miles out of them. A drop of cam lube every 10k miles will keep them going.

I agree a little PM can go a long way as you say cam lube and when they were still around hit all the grease fittings with every oil change.

Reminded me of a 1 1/2 hour trip to the ocean during the 1960’s in a hot red MG Midget, top down, open highway and a cute. cute, cute little blond in the other seat. Everything to make a high school boy’s dream come true.

By the time we hit the beach we were so hot, sweaty, windblown, dusty, noise impaired and especially sunburned that any dreams had crashed and burned by the time we got out of the car.

Clearly one of the factors that contributed to teenage virginity until the 1970’s. :rofl:


No, that’s not why. Every car made today has flow through ventilation, with fresh air brought in through the cowl vent, and stale air exhausted through vents in the rear of the cabin. Vent windows accomplish nothing except creating noise and providing thieves an easy way to break into your car.


My Dad did the grocery shopping when he retired. He’d drive to 4 different stores getting the best deals on the individual items. Milk and bread in one store…meat/chicken in another…canned goods in another. Take him all day for a whopping savings of $2.


When you bought a points kit it came with the points, condenser, and a capsule of lube. I really don’t recall how long between plugs and point in my 68 Dodge, or 74 Olds. I think my 59 Pontiac was around 5-10K, but that dang 59 VW better be done at 2000 or I’d be calling for a ride at a pay phone.

If somebody doesn’t want to use the A/C, the volume of filtered air that the HVAC vents can bring in–and exhaust–is far greater than what would have come in through the old vent windows. And, no bugs, no pollen, and MUCH less noise than the roar from the old vent windows!

Just a clarification. I have no idea of the cfm of flow though systems versus the old kick panel vents. But the vent windows were more of a smoker’s thing without causing a hurricane inside the car. Going 50 or 60 and open up the kick panel vent and the air flow was pretty great. Of course all related to the outside temp so at 95 degrees and 80% humidity, don’t bother.

Oh yeah and AC was available as an option way back at least to the late 50’s and early 60’s. The problem was it cost about $400 for that option. So back then, you really had to have a lot of money, or a lot of reason like hauling clients around or long trips in the hot sun, to warrant the expense.

I don’t know which came first, the demand for AC or the dealers only ordering cars with AC so it became standard equipment. I suspect some of both and gradually became the standard like power windows. When I ordered my 74 Olds though, which was my first new car, we splurged and paid the $400 for AC. My folks loved it who had not yet committed the folly of wasting $400, so I drove.

I’ve noticed the buffeting on newer vehicles. We had an 08 Malibu when I first noticed it. If you rolled one of the rear windows down and left the other windows up, you may as well have been in one of those old Bell helicopters like Jim used to lean out of and shoot wildabeasts with his tranquilizer loaded rifle in Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom”. That reference may be a longshot. I only had 3 channels when I was a kid :grin:

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