It’s strange the things you take little or no notice of until one day you realise they are not there anymore, like for example the triangle window vent, also known as the quarter window. Most cars had these back in the day, although maybe there is a whole new generation that wouldn’t even know what they are!
They were triangular in shape and situated in the front of the car, forward of the door window and featured little handles that, when pushed down or up (usually needing some considerable force!) would enable you to push the little piece of triangle glass either inwards or outwards in varying increments. As with modern day air-conditioning vents in the dashboard of the car, the direction and angle chosen depended upon where you wanted the breeze to aim – and in those days of no air-conditioning it was an absolute winner if you could direct it right onto your hot sweaty face! If you came from a family with siblings there’d invariably be a fight over who was going to sit in the front seat and get the benefits of this breeze.
Back in 60’s and 70’s a large proportion of the population also smoked cigarettes and these vent windows were very efficient at removing the smoke from the interior of the car. It seems so odd to think of driving with a car full of smoke nowadays, but back then it was the norm.
Another advantage of the quarter window was that it enabled you to reach out and adjust the side mirror without having to roll down the window, (no electric adjustment in those days!) particularly helpful in cold weather or when Mum had spent hours with her rollers in and didn’t want her hairdo messed up by the wind. As a child it was also common to pop your foot out to ‘catch the breeze’ – another advantage for the sibling who managed to get the front seat.
One of the drawbacks of these windows was the fact that when open they were a bit like reverse spoilers – causing a great deal of wind resistance and of course increased fuel consumption! Another was that although the interior handles could be pushed into a ‘locked’ position, they were not very secure and made it very easy to break into the car – this is possibly why we don’t see them in cars anymore. The dispatch of the quarter window was probably sold to consumers as a ‘safety feature’ when purchasing a new model car.
So, sadly, triangle window vents went the way of wooden sides on station wagons, vinyl seats, chrome bumpers, bench seats and column shift transmissions – rarely seen and remembered with fondness now that they are in the past. It’s fair to say that they likely would not be appreciated in modern day cars but they seem better when viewed nostalgically!