The 1934 model year saw an innovation that would forever change the automotive industry. In that year, Ford introduced the first production cabin heater. Today, the idea that cars had no heat for the first 40 or so years of their existence seems amazing. How did people drive in cold weather before the heater core was invented? Well, for the most part, they didn't drive when it was very cold. Or they used dangerous gas lanterns inside the moving vehicles to keep it warm as they drove down the bumpy dirt roads. Or they wore a lot of clothes. Remember, back in the early days, people considered driving to be a privilege.
Like everything else on an automobile, the size and construction of a heater core is dependent on the manufacturer. Today, most heaters are made of a rectangular aluminum core and tanks that are either plastic (nylon) or aluminum. But back in the formative days of the heater core, there were many designs, although the vast majority were made of copper and brass. Their cores were either cellular or tube-and-fin.
But that's where the similarities ended.While modern heater cores are always rectangular, many early designs were very... let's just call them "creative." General Motors cars in the 1950s often had round heaters under the front seat to warm their occupants. Many British cars also had round heaters. Dodge had many U-shaped heaters, while their parent company often had two heaters, held together by a bracket in most units with factory A/C.
A major problem with these heaters is that there are very few artisans left in the repair industry who are capable — and patient — enough to perform the necessary repairs on some of these classics. They are few and far between, but there is definitely one on Long Island! Bill Carberry of Classic Heaters has been successfully repairing and recoring these crazy-looking heaters for decades.
Each one of these jobs is special and built by hand. If your antique car or truck has a heater core that needs to be replaced, call us at 516-293-2175 for an estimate. You may need to have your heater, along with a ruler and pencil ready when you call!