Vent Windows

Concerning your recent article about vent windows on older cars without air conditioning. In the late 60’s, it appeared to me that the primary purpose of the vent window was to discharge cigarette smoke while driving. Practically everyone smoked back then.

I had many cars without ac and vent windows. I never thought the primary purpose was cigarette smoke, and the elimination of vent windows was a bean counter exercise, not a lack of ablility of a car to eliminate smoke. Anecdotal evidence, the cordless cigarette lighter was eliminated well after vent windows.

Someone should have told my parents. I grew up in sunny Southern California, and opening a window with the air conditioning on in the car wasn’t done. Often times both mom and dad would be smoking in the car with the windows shut tight to keep the cool air in.

I’m not one to claim “Conspiracy”, but I think that the two things from the old cars that I’d like to see brought back would be the vent or wing windows and the old floor vents.
If you opened those wing windows far enough you could have a nice draft blowing at you on that 85* day.
For you young fellows the floor vent was located where (we now call them “kick panels”) are, and you would just pull a knob to open the vent. After awhile the makers controlled them with cables so the driver could control both vents from the drivers seat.

I think the manufactures eliminated those two items to force everyone to choose the AC option and the dealerships and parts departments would bring in a hefty flow of cash for the repairs.
Make it as uncomfortable as you can without AC, and they will all want AC!!!

Think about it. You own a 10 year old car and the AC goes belly up. The repair will be $800-$1000. Now you start to think that the wing windows and floor vents are enough and you’ll save a lot of cash for other things.

I could be wrong, but I’d love to have both back and I’d use my AC a lot less.


I am right there with you @Yosemite I’d love to see vent windows again. I put “vent shades” on my truck to allow hot air to escape when parked and not let rain in (no thanks to the lack of drip rails!) They also perform a similar function to wing-vents. Helps the AC vent the hot air and cool the incoming. Keeps air from getting stale in the car.

I have a cap on the back of my pickup for my work. It stands about 14 inches above the truck cab. The last three trucks under it, had the sliding rear window and it diverted air into the cab through that open window. I rarely used the AC, but this current truck doesn’t have that window and I have the AC on a lot more.


getting rid of vent windows was a cost cutting move, since most cars started to have A/C. The most use I have seen was to flick the cigarette buts out the window. My first car with A/C was a 1976 Ford Granada and we used the Air whenever needed.

In the early days of cars, the heaters were recirculating air types hung under the dash. The air would get dangerously stale on a long trip in the winter. The vent windows provided some fresh air, just like the tent flap when you are tent camping with a heater inside.

I recall some cars and trucks having windshields that swung out at the bottom for some serious ventilation plus many cars and trucks offered an optional sun visor. Such options are much too practical for todays designers.

Does anyone besides remember the air deflectors that clipped onto the vent wings and directed the air flow the floor? Most of them were made of translucent plastic and were available in different colors. They were sold at Western Auto, Sears and Montgomery Ward auto department and many other locations.

When vent windows were the norm the side window glass was flat. Now side windows are curved glass. I’m not sure what the reason for the curved glass over flat is? Perhaps just style or less wind noise? Making curved vent windows to match the curved glass was just too expensive.

In the early days of cars, the heaters were recirculating air types hung under the dash. The air would get dangerously stale on a long trip in the winter.

Wow your cars must have been far more airtight than mine, which tended to have roughly the air retention of a sieve.
As to wing windows, I say good riddance and hurray for AC. More than once those things flung injured, angry bees right at me.

^Also a good reason not to ride a MC with your leather jacket unzipped, as I learned when a Hornet got in there at 45 MPH. Couldn’t stop; had to punch the damn thing to death with one hand, holding on to the bike with the other, while Mr. Angry stung me a half-dozen times or so…