Ventilation exasperation – and relief

If a Citroen 2CV can do it, and a Land Rover can do it, and a Rover P6 can do it, many Mercs can do it so why can many cars NOT do it?

I talk of course of the ability of a car to provide warm air to the windscreen and/or feet, while also supplying cool air to the face. A Citroen BX can’t do it, a Saab 9000 finds it a struggle and I’m pretty sure my Alfa Romeo 164 found such a scenario too perplexing.

Happily, my Rover 400 CAN do it. I spent a decent chunk of today driving around in horrendous weather. To keep the windscreen clear, I had to direct warm air upon it. But it’s summer, so I don’t really want to heat up the interior, which is why being able to use the face-level vents to provide fresh air to ones nostrils is so pleasant.

Rover's ventilation is rather wonderful

Rover’s ventilation is rather wonderful

The magic happens thanks to that slider, bottom right in the picture above. Though it doesn’t much seem to reduce the air flow when you move it…

However, I’m still very glad of it! With air-conditioning becoming more prevalent, such controls aren’t really needed. That’s because air-con dries the air, so you can set it to a comfortable temperature and still see where you’re going – though I don’t much like the way it also dries out my sinuses.

That makes the set-up in the Rover just about perfect. The 2CV is rather more direct about it – just open the flap beneath the windscreen – but it’s still a feature I welcome. That was refined somewhat on Dyanes, with individually controlled air vents at each end of the dashboard – though it must be said that I once had hail come flying in during a particularly bad storm, so simple isn’t always best!

I still find it odd that manufacturers found it acceptable to do away with any form of fresh air ingress. Quarter lights had their uses, but then they became fixed to boost security, and then vanished altogether. I guess it’s much more simple to not bother with fresh air vents, which is presumably why Vauxhall and Ford did away with them – other mainstream manufacturers followed suit.

Of course, more ventilation joy comes from the tilt/slide sunroof. That is also a good way of bringing more fresh air in as well as more natural light. I really am starting to like this car an awful lot! Apart from the lack of rear wiper perhaps. That is annoying. Mind you, I’m not sure I could fit four full-size tyres in the boot of a 200 hatchback. Swings and roundabouts as ever!

6 thoughts on “Ventilation exasperation – and relief

  1. Not to mention the direct air to the side window with the vents in the doors, which was removed on the later 200/400, 25/45 but is present in my 75, much better then the feable dash mounted side demisters.

  2. The original pre-facelift Citroën BX (with the wacky revolving drum speedo) could do this too. The two outer face level vents would supply fresh air whilst the heater was on.
    It was only after the ’86 facelift that Citroën ditched this feature and the later cars had all of their dash vents plumbed through the heater.

      • Even then I think it might have been dependent on trim level. Our ’84 14E base model definitely had the side fresh air vents, but I’ve a feeling the’ 85 16RS I owned later on may have had the setup with the vents connected to the heater

        I owned 4 BXs over the years and they are still one of my favourite cars.

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