When Did Wing Vents Disappear from Car Windows?

Why don’t we have those triangular windows in the front seat of our cars anymore?

On a hot summer day, with no air conditioning, wing vents could be aimed to blow cool breezes into the car.

They were useful for putting a cigarette or a child’s foot outside the window, playing with air flow, and car thieves.

They were variously called wing vents, wing windows, breeze windows, vent windows, no-draft windows, quadrant windows, quarter glass, cross vent windows, butterfly windows, or wind wings.

1987-1991 Ford F-150 photographed in Fairfax, ...

1987-1991 Ford F-150 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What Happened to Them?

While it is generally agreed that wing windows were mostly gone by the 80s, the reasons suggested are varied.

  • Too easy to break in through the wing window
  • Poor ergonomics from the chrome edge reduced gas mileage
  • Caused accidents when bugs swept into car
  • Cheaper to build a single glass window
  • The square leading edge of the glass window, which left the triangular space, was no longer necessary once curved windows could be rolled up and down in a track
  • Not necessary with universal air conditioning.

What Is the Timeline for When They Disappeared?

Taking the wing vents out of cars did not happen with all cars and all manufacturers at once.

These cars still had wing vents.

According to carcraft.com, on most General Motors cars, wing vents were eliminated after 1968, to reduce wind noise.

Do you miss wing vents?

Do you remember when you first got a car that did not have them?

Do your grandchildren know what they are?

To you and the history you bring to your grandchildren’s lives.


Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers

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