Open Menu
Open Menu

Charcoal heater: Prewar motoring accessory uses a brick to give off heat

Published in

Photography by author.

Back in the pre-war motoring days, few cars had heaters. Although under-dash heaters were a rare option, and dangerous as the early heaters used gasoline, even then many people couldn’t afford to pay the extra cost to have a heater fitted. One alternative option was this heater box, which was mainly offered in the late 1920s and ’30s.

This heater accessory, like most that were offered back then, was made of steel and covered with a carpet-like fabric. A metal drawer slid out the side where the car owner would insert either a pre-heated brick, or fill it with a chunk of charcoal or wood which they would then ignite. The heat within escaped through small holes on both ends of the box. It would then be placed on the floor and help heat the feet and legs of the driver and passengers.

Charcoal heater accessory

Measuring about 14-inches in length, the heat that this heater box gave off couldn’t have been much, but it certainly heated the cabin more than if the car didn’t have it. Although we take heaters and air conditioning for granted nowadays, this heater box is just one example as to how tough motoring was back in the day, and how aftermarket automotive accessories are nothing new.