So, What’s the Deal with Louvers?
In the 1970s and 1980s, louvers were all the rage. Cars like the Datsun 260Z, Ford Mustang, and Honda Civic SI were popular choices to have louvers added to the rear windows. While matte black louvers added a tough look, they also served a functional purpose. They did not add to the aerodynamics of the car, but they did help keep the hatchbacks cooler in the sun.
Hot Sports Cars with Louvers
If you look back at photos of cars like the Datsun 260Z or the Chevy Iroc Camaro, you can easily see why the louvers were so helpful. Even with the air conditioning blasting, those huge rear windows would heat up sports cars rather quickly. Since many of the hot sports cars also had black interiors, the heat from those rear windows would make the interior temperature skyrocket. In the 1970s and 1980s, window tint film was available, but many communities did not allow drivers to use it unless they had permission from their physicians, so louvers were one of the only legal options to keep cars cool and provide a clear view for drivers, too.
The Problems with Louvers
Even though louvers provided relief from the heat, drivers often found them to be a nuisance. If they were after-market installations, they usually rattled every time cars hit bumps in the road. On cars like the Chevy Iroc Camaro, they made the rear hatches extremely heavy to lift. People who owned cars like the Datsun 260Z had smaller louvers, which looked great, but they made it challenging to keep the rear windows clean.
Louvers on the DeLorean
Some cars actually came with louvers as a standard feature. The DeLorean DMC-12 had standard plastic louvers on the rear window as well as a defogger. The louvers added to the futuristic design of the car, but since the engine was in the back of the car, the louvers really did help keep the hot air from entering the passenger compartment. The louvers also prevented glare from the rear window, too.
Louvers on Today’s Cars
Louvers are still used today on a few different sports cars and trucks. Anyone who wants to beef up a muscle car (even the new “retro” models) can still find louvers. Pickup truck drivers also add louvers because there is such little space in the passenger compartments. In sunny climates, louvers can also keep upholstery from fading in the constant sunlight. Many of the new models of louvers are easy for do-it-yourselfers to install.