Are you sitting comfortably?

Air-con ain't what it used to be

Research by Footman James has revealed that classics owners don’t care for modern comforts such as sat nav, air-conditioning or even heating.  Of course they don’t. Let’s take these one at a time.

Part of enjoying real world driving skills is to plan and navigate properly.  I’d suggest many journeys in classic motors are not last minute dashes to unknown places but outings to make the most of the time on the road.  This means opening up a map.  Even better, it means enjoying a drive with a companion and navigator.  Those journeys made at short notice and in a hurry to unfamiliar places will be made in modern, reliable cars en route to parts suppliers or eBay vendors to fetch pieces for the broken-down classic stuck at home. 

My experience of older cars is that they have much better ventilation than their newer, hermetically-sealed equivalents.  Soft-tops aside, the older motors were designed to push air through the cabin.  The MGB GT has a flap against the bulkhead operated by a lever in the passenger footwell.  This allows (sort of) cool air straight in.  Quarter lights too can also be positioned just so, allowing the appropriate amount of air in.  The Land Rover has the obvious flaps under the windscreen with just a coarse mesh to stop the bigger bugs coming in; even at a crawl, this is very efficient.  Driving both old and new vehicles regularly, I’m often reminded at how poor the air flow is on newer cars. 

One surprising attribute of the ‘manual’ air-conditioning offered by older vehicles is the engagement of the outside world.  By contrast, couped-up with the little ‘A/C’ button pressed, all you’ll smell is what’s in the cabin.  Try turning off the fan and air-conditioning and open a window or two.  You’ll be surprised what you actually notice about where you are driving.  This might be the Chinese restaurant or the wild garlic in the woodland.  It will remind you that the world is still bigger than you. 

Heating is possibly more of an issue in older cars.  Those with heating at all are probably much less efficient at toasting their occupants than when new due to various pieces of gunk and corrosion in the water system.  That said, there is often a warm transmission tunnel to snuggle up to, or even a warm floor pan directly above the exhaust.  If your fingers are a little on the cool side then how about some driving gloves to keep that period look? 

Where’s the next survey stating the bleedin’ obvious?





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