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Old 01-13-2019, 04:47 PM
nelliebly nelliebly is online now
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Whatever happened to vent windows on cars?

Gone with the cross-wind, I guess. But why?

I'm referring to those little triangular hinged windows on either side of the front passenger seat. They were handy when you wanted a little fresh air but didn't want a strong wind blowing through the car. They were also handy for smokers, as I recall. I remember seeing people flick their ashes or just hold a cigarette out that window. I do kind of miss them. But then, I miss two-tone cars, too. Neither one is coming back

Someone told me they disappeared around the time cars AC became standard, but as their sole purpose was to vent, not cool, I'm not sure I understand that. Maybe it was just cheaper to make cars without them?
  #2  
Old 01-13-2019, 04:51 PM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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From this thread:

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Originally Posted by jz78817 View Post
couple reasons:

1) roof crush standards means the A-pillars are getting thicker and bulkier, so there's less room to put in a useful vent window, and

2) they're bad for aerodynamics.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasg View Post
3) Easy to pry open and unlock door. (Lost my first tape deck this way)
  #3  
Old 01-13-2019, 05:06 PM
Sam Stone Sam Stone is offline
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They were also a good source of interior noise - even when closed.
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Old 01-13-2019, 06:22 PM
jjakucyk jjakucyk is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nelliebly View Post
Someone told me they disappeared around the time cars AC became standard, but as their sole purpose was to vent, not cool, I'm not sure I understand that. Maybe it was just cheaper to make cars without them?
They were designed to direct air onto the windshield, to act as supplementary defrosters. In mild damp weather it's difficult to keep the windshield defrosted without the dehumidifying ability of the air conditioner or blasting the heat. Opening the regular windows doesn't do anything for the windshield since the air blows towards the back.

On top of the items Johnny quoted, the A pillar is also getting bigger to accommodate side-impact airbags. This further reduces visibility, so adding a vent window would only make it that much worse with the extra trim between it and the rest of the window. I figure that would complicate visibility to the sideview mirrors as well. Because vent windows are on a pivot, it's also very difficult to keep them watertight.
  #5  
Old 01-13-2019, 06:39 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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I remember reading that the vent windows were very efficient in venting car exhaust into the car.
  #6  
Old 01-13-2019, 08:52 PM
Tim@T-Bonham.net Tim@T-Bonham.net is offline
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Technology made it easier & cheaper to produce window glass with a slanted front edge. So now the manufacturer could fill the entire window space with a single piece of glass.

And eliminating vent windows saved money in manufacturing. Only 1 piece of window glass; no extra metal frame, hinge, and handle to be assembled, and less weight overall. And vent windows had disadvantages (many already mentioned): noisy, leaky (I certainly remember that, as a kid growing up n Minnesota winters) prone to breakage, easily smashed to break into a vehicle, etc.

Also, eliminating them allowed auto company publicists to push the streamlined, elegant style of their new cars. (When you introduce new models every year, you need a new gimmick to push.) There was some slight advantage in improving driver visibility, but nobody wanted to talk about safety back then.
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Old 01-13-2019, 08:55 PM
Tim@T-Bonham.net Tim@T-Bonham.net is offline
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Technology made it easier & cheaper to produce window glass with a slanted front edge. So now the manufacturer could fill the entire window space with a single piece of glass.

And eliminating vent windows saved money in manufacturing. Only 1 piece of window glass; no extra metal frame, hinge, and handle to be assembled, and less weight overall. And vent windows had disadvantages (many already mentioned): noisy, leaky (I certainly remember that, as a kid growing up n Minnesota winters) prone to breakage, easily smashed to break into a vehicle, etc.

Also, eliminating them allowed auto company publicists to push the streamlined, elegant style of their new cars. (When you introduce new models every year, you need a new gimmick to push.) There was some slight advantage in improving driver visibility, but nobody wanted to talk about safety back then.
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Old 01-13-2019, 09:57 PM
nelliebly nelliebly is online now
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Wow, thanks. I've learned a lot!

As an ironic side note, hasn't there been some concern that the wider A pillar obscures visibility, posing something of a threat to pedestrians and bicyclists? And a cop once told me of a fatal accident in which the A pillar obscured a small car. Of course, any danger would be more than offset by the safety advantages.
  #9  
Old 01-13-2019, 10:21 PM
Sam Stone Sam Stone is offline
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Many modern vehicles have godawful visibility. Streamlined shapes and sculpted back ends on SUVs have caused many vehicles to have huge blind spots. Older cars often look like greenhouses in comparison.

This is somewhat explained by the rise of backup cameras, parking sensors, and the like. The availability of those tools has allowed car designers to compromise outward visibility, while the increased compromising of outward visibility is driving further development and regulations requiring such sensors.

Last edited by Sam Stone; 01-13-2019 at 10:21 PM.
  #10  
Old 01-14-2019, 01:20 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim@T-Bonham.net View Post
Technology made it easier & cheaper to produce window glass with a slanted front edge. So now the manufacturer could fill the entire window space with a single piece of glass.

And eliminating vent windows saved money in manufacturing. Only 1 piece of window glass; no extra metal frame, hinge, and handle to be assembled, and less weight overall. And vent windows had disadvantages (many already mentioned): noisy, leaky (I certainly remember that, as a kid growing up n Minnesota winters) prone to breakage, easily smashed to break into a vehicle, etc.

Also, eliminating them allowed auto company publicists to push the streamlined, elegant style of their new cars. (When you introduce new models every year, you need a new gimmick to push.) There was some slight advantage in improving driver visibility, but nobody wanted to talk about safety back then.
I'll go along with cheaper manufacturing.

Also note the advent of the side mirrors as smaller inserts where the vent window used to be. My first Honda Civic (85) had a solid piece on the passenger side and the passenger side mirror was an option. Note the far cheaper manufacturing in putting the side mirrors in that triangle - no holes to drill, no funny cable to thread for adjustment cable that then had to be attached to the door interior; and those holes drilled in the door for the rear-view were a great source of rust. Can't remember how many old junkers I used to see with a side mirror rusted loose and hanging by the cable. Today, the side mirrors are often installed at the dealer - less risk of damage.

I think a lot of design compromises on modern cars are due to simplicity of assembly nowadays.

(ha ha - there's a bit in Death of a Salesman where the protagonist reminisces about cranking open the windshield to enjoy the breeze.)
  #11  
Old 01-14-2019, 09:41 AM
SanDiegoTim SanDiegoTim is offline
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All true, but I sure miss them.

Many decades ago, when I smoked, vent windows worked great to suck the smoke out.
  #12  
Old 01-14-2019, 10:54 AM
mbh mbh is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Stone View Post
Many modern vehicles have godawful visibility. Streamlined shapes and sculpted back ends on SUVs have caused many vehicles to have huge blind spots. Older cars often look like greenhouses in comparison.

This is somewhat explained by the rise of backup cameras, parking sensors, and the like. The availability of those tools has allowed car designers to compromise outward visibility, while the increased compromising of outward visibility is driving further development and regulations requiring such sensors.
I think it's the other way around. My SUV has huge blind spots, but was made before cameras and sensors became common.
  #13  
Old 01-14-2019, 11:40 AM
control-z control-z is offline
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Still hanging onto my 1995 F-150 with vent windows, bench seat, and manual windows and door locks!
  #14  
Old 01-14-2019, 12:38 PM
iamthewalrus(:3= iamthewalrus(:3= is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hari Seldon View Post
I remember reading that the vent windows were very efficient in venting car exhaust into the car.
How would that happen? Cars exhaust out the rear and the vents are in the front. The car would have to be going backward relative to the airflow outside the car for the exhaust to make it in.
  #15  
Old 01-14-2019, 12:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iamthewalrus(:3= View Post
How would that happen? Cars exhaust out the rear and the vents are in the front. The car would have to be going backward relative to the airflow outside the car for the exhaust to make it in.
Exhaust from other cars on the road, I'm guessing.
  #16  
Old 01-14-2019, 12:58 PM
kopek kopek is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
Exhaust from other cars on the road, I'm guessing.
Probably. It was one of the issues with opening them too far (that it put the breeze back on your body) in the rain; you basically got soaked. I can remember getting stuck behind buses and slag-trucks - it really did fill the cabin pretty quickly through the vent windows.
  #17  
Old 01-14-2019, 01:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iamthewalrus(:3= View Post
How would that happen? Cars exhaust out the rear and the vents are in the front. The car would have to be going backward relative to the airflow outside the car for the exhaust to make it in.
I do not know the factual answer but aerodynamics can be counterintuitive. If the car creates turbulence rather than laminar flow along the sides of the vehicle, exhaust could certainly be sucked up to the front of the car.
  #18  
Old 01-14-2019, 03:12 PM
iamthewalrus(:3= iamthewalrus(:3= is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
Exhaust from other cars on the road, I'm guessing.
Sure, but any more than any other method of getting air into the car?
  #19  
Old 01-14-2019, 03:31 PM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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Station wagons used to have roll-up/down windows on the rear door. With the window opened, the turbulent airflow from the back of the car would blow some of the exhaust into the car.
  #20  
Old 01-14-2019, 03:48 PM
Melbourne Melbourne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Stone View Post
Many modern vehicles have godawful visibility. Streamlined shapes and sculpted back ends on SUVs have caused many vehicles to have huge blind spots. Older cars often look like greenhouses in comparison.
I'm getting traffic tickets for running red-lights where I can't see the traffic light as I enter the intersection. And the last time I bought a car, visibility was my primary criteria, but I still can't see out: visibility is blocked by the pillars and the roof-line.

Last edited by Melbourne; 01-14-2019 at 03:48 PM.
  #21  
Old 01-14-2019, 03:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iamthewalrus(:3= View Post
Sure, but any more than any other method of getting air into the car?
There's a cabin air filter for the ventilation system in modern cars (I'm not 100% certain of whether older cars had those), though I don't know how good a job those do on engine exhaust.
  #22  
Old 01-14-2019, 04:05 PM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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I vonder vhwere ze vindows vent?
  #23  
Old 01-14-2019, 06:05 PM
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FoieGrasIsEvil FoieGrasIsEvil is offline
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Subaru vehicles still maintain the triangular vent windows...they just don't open any more. But they're there on all their cars, and it does provide better visibility around the a-pillar, especially when the driver is making a left turn.
  #24  
Old 01-14-2019, 10:32 PM
notfrommensa notfrommensa is offline
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In cars with no AC, weren't the Vents a good way to "cool" the car when it was raining hard?
  #25  
Old 01-15-2019, 11:28 AM
kopek kopek is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iamthewalrus(:3= View Post
Sure, but any more than any other method of getting air into the car?
At least as far as my memory goes; yes. The still air box for the regular vents/dash vents must have been located in such a fashion that they didn't get as much and having the windows wide (the 4-60 AC Unit as we called it) allowed as much out as in. With the vents it seemed like the fumes didn't just enter but lingered for some reason.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
There's a cabin air filter for the ventilation system in modern cars (I'm not 100% certain of whether older cars had those), though I don't know how good a job those do on engine exhaust.
No filters at least on the 50s/60s cars I owned.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
There's a cabin air filter for the ventilation system in modern cars (I'm not 100% certain of whether older cars had those), though I don't know how good a job those do on engine exhaust.
See my post #16; it depends. They could help quite a bit but you had to learn how to set and adjust them. Like outside mirrors back then (the kind that you adjusted manually sometimes mounted in odd places like the fenders) YMMV widely.
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Old 01-15-2019, 12:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjakucyk View Post
They were designed to direct air onto the windshield, to act as supplementary defrosters. In mild damp weather it's difficult to keep the windshield defrosted without the dehumidifying ability of the air conditioner or blasting the heat. Opening the regular windows doesn't do anything for the windshield since the air blows towards the back.

On top of the items Johnny quoted, the A pillar is also getting bigger to accommodate side-impact airbags. This further reduces visibility, so adding a vent window would only make it that much worse with the extra trim between it and the rest of the window. I figure that would complicate visibility to the sideview mirrors as well. Because vent windows are on a pivot, it's also very difficult to keep them watertight.
How, exactly, did they direct air onto the windshield?
  #27  
Old 01-15-2019, 01:06 PM
kopek kopek is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
How, exactly, did they direct air onto the windshield?
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...ent_window.jpg

Set like this it really did draw a flow across the inside of a windshield and work as an addition to the "defrost" setting. If you did both sides the same way it also created a sort of central flow keeping the driver and passenger "draft-free".
  #28  
Old 01-15-2019, 10:09 PM
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Camaros had them in '67 . They did not in '68. Why? At first, GM said it was styling. Eventually, they admitted it was simply a cost-saving measure. Other makers followed suit. The other reasons mentioned earlier in this thread were not considered then.
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