It's All Trew

Like a South Wind

| January 2005

Thanks to the Farm Collector readers who responded to my query in the November issue about gasoline car heaters, I am now the resident expert on this miraculous device. When early-day cars first came onto the market, in the days before antifreeze was invented, in-car heaters were scarce and a pain to keep running.

The Stewart-Warner Company originally created South Wind gasoline heaters for American automobiles in the early 1930s. Distribution continued until the 1950s. More than three million units were sold, mainly because they were easy to install and maintain. Two models were produced: A regularsize unit, and a South Wind Jr. for coupes.

The design burned gasoline vapors in a vacuum, preventing leakage of fumes. The units proved to be reliable, and provided more heat than other heaters produced in that era. The South Wind's attractive Art Deco styling made a fine addition to a car of any vintage.

South Wind heaters were considered automotive accessories and could be purchased from dealers, battery shops, filling stations and garages. All specialty parts were included in the kit, with common parts (copper tubing, for example) purchased separately. An operator's manual and template were included, showing where to drill holes in the firewall for mounting.

Gas car heaters did the trick, for the front seat, anyway

To use the South Wind the car's engine had to be running, so gasoline could be pulled from the carburetor float bowl into the heater oven. A glow plug ignited the vapor, and a small 6- volt fan pushed hot air into the car interior. A single knob controlled the heat and the fan.