Things I miss: Vent Windows

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I assume its a combination of all those factors. As much as they were weirdly pleasant to use, and one of those little design cues I miss from cars. They were kind of terrible. They were constantly breaking. Definitely created drag. Given they were the go to spot for fixing “locked my keys in the car” for my mechanic grandfather they most definitely made it easy to steel cars.


Quarterlights were awesome and I didn’t know I missed them until now.


That’s awesome. Yeah I miss them too. The only time I remember them was in 1980s Yucatan driving around in VW bugs (I swear 50% of cars there were VW bugs) … no AC but the air would be right in your face where you needed it most.


Seriously the best way to knock the ash of cigarette while driving in the winter was the vent window. Also seemed to prevent ash blow back into the car.


My '84 Ranger had them and yeah, I could lock my keys in the truck at the beach no problem. '88 Cherokee had them but I could never get through without fear of breaking them. But I could take the keys out of the ignition while that one was running. That was fun.


Vent windows disappeared because no matter how much Americans liked them, when it came down to it, they bought cars mostly based on how swoopy they looked, not what features they had.

Extensive A/B testing made it clear to the industry that the clean swoopy ventless look substantially outsold the same models with vents, and if ventless was the only choice, it didn’t lose any real amount of sales.

It’s the old free-market conundrum: A free market doesn’t give you what you want; it gives you what you buy.

Those are often rather different.


Probably also because of strengthened A pillars due to roll over crush standards and the 90’s design trend of cab forward design.

Hell I just miss 2 door coupes with windows low enough your elbow wasn’t above your ear, thanks safety conscious people for making driving a little more mundane.


And, I bet, locking engine compartments.

We were in Cozumel in the early nineties and most of cars, including the rental cars, were VW bugs. We were told that Mexico was still licensed to build bugs at that time. So I think your observation was probably correct.


I had a 71 Chevy van from ~82-87 and an 87 from 87-2011, both with wing windows. They weren’t a theft problem with the 71 (if the door locks were working that year, you could still peel off the duct tape that held the side windows on.) They weren’t much of a theft problem with the 87 - I usually found it easier to pop the side windows open with a screwdriver than to coathanger the wing windows open, but I’ve done both. N-1 of the other people who broke into that van in San Francisco did it non-destructively, and maybe the wing window helped - the other time it was parked in a brightly lit lot on a main street, so they did a smash&grab.

The 87 nominally had air conditioning, but by the late 90s it had stopped working, and you couldn’t get Real Freon to recharge it with any more, or at least not for much less than the price of the van, but the wing windows kept working.

Mexico manufactured VW bugs until 2003!


And in some really older cars the wing vents were opened by rotating a handle like you used to open the side windows. Our 53 Chevy was made that way.

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vent windows were the best. You could basically clean out all the junk in the front seat by blowing it to the back.


This elicited two memories for me. Both long forgotten yet so nostalgic. First is from a long time ago, bouncing through the pasture in the panhandle of Texas in my uncle Ray’s Ford pickup. I was maybe 11 or 12 and I think we were hunting jackrabbits. Second is cruising down the highway in my '66 Mustang 2+2 - my first car, purchased in 1970 for $800 - with my girlfriend riding shotgun. (She’s now my wife of 43 years).

As I recall, vent windows had another convenient use. In cold weather it was the best way to dispose of your cigarette butts without losing heat.


We have '90 Vanagon Westy, and I use the vent windows constantly. I miss them in my new MINI - only the door windows roll down and the air is blasted around the interior so bad I can feel like pea in a whistle. In my old Austin and Morris Mini Coopers, they had 2-piece sliding windows on the doors - no vent windows, and the rear quarter in back opened at the rear - you could get the best airflow by adjusting all four windows as needed.

Hell, I’d gladly settle for the floor vents that you pulled open and they brought air directly in from outside. In the last couple of cars I’ve owned, if the a/c isn’t on the vents are at least 5 degrees warmer than the o.a.t.


Yes indeedy. My dad had a '92 F150, and later a '95 F150. Both had wing windows. In fact, they had a wee locking button on the latch that you had to depress in order to turn the latch to open the window. Wouldn’t keep out an even halfway-determined thief, but it was an adorable effort by Ford. They don’t try like that anymore.

The ones in my '68 F250 were awfully stiff, so much so that I was slightly afraid of breaking them when I opened them. But I used 'em all the time.

My '70 Cougar has those. They work awesome.

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I suspect another reason they disappeared was improvements in glass technology. By using the wings, the main window glass could be much smaller and therefore easier and cheaper to mass produce. Older side glass tended to be flatter than modern glass, which can better withstand the pressures of a single rail mount. Yes, windshields and rear windows were large, curved sheets of glass, but they were also well supported on all edges.


I miss vent windows too, and I sure as hell miss air-cooled VW’s. I generally don’t like air conditioning, particularly in my car, but I will use it perhaps a handful of times each summer when it’s super humid, or if I’ve got passengers who demand it. I’ve been suffering from a rare summertime sinus infection lately, and as hot and humid as it’s been, I can’t use the AC, because that just exacerbates it.

So I just drive around, sweating, blasting Earth’s “Hex: or Printing in the Infernal Method” and feeling like I’m on some weird depressant.

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