I think it’s time that we (and by we, of course I mean “I”) devote a second to Mazda’s swing vents, because it’s a topic that the mainstream automotive media, of which I am a part, are continually ignoring. This is almost certainly because no one cares.
But I care, and so does an alert reader who contacted me to tell me about the swing vents. But I already knew, as did four or five others out there, none of whom have a life either.
Here’s how it worked: you got in your early 1990s Mazda 626, put on the air conditioning or heat, and voila! The air pushed out of the vents as they moved back and forth. The result was your cabin was wafted with air, much like you’re royalty from thousands of years ago – you know, the ones that are always sitting in a throne-like chair while servants spread air back and forth using giant leaves.
I know this feature made it on the Mazda 626, and I think it was on the 929 as well. Supposedly, the first-generation Lexus LS400 also had it, though I’m unable to confirm that as first-gen LS400 owners are all currently asleep in their retirement communities. The LS430 may have also used it.
The Volkswagen Phaeton did not have oscillating vents, as many people think, but rather wood vent covers that electronically went up or down when you activated the climate control. If you have a Phaeton now, at least two of these probably still work.
Unfortunately, oscillating vents seemingly have gone the way of the carburetor – probably because they made absolutely no sense in the first place. Maybe Mazda could’ve made a competitive minivan if they hadn’t spent so much money on the damn oscillating vents.
(BONUS: this piece uses the word “oscillating” more times than anything else in Internet history. Just to be safe, oscillating oscillating oscillating.)
Here’s a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWCxw7xKjko