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Ode to the Air Cooled

Summary:
No new cars – and just a dwindling handful of new motorcycles –  have engines that rely on the air to cool them. Technically, it’s airflow – which washes over the exterior surfaces of the engine (in some cases, is forced to wash over the exterior surfaces by an engine-driven fan – that’s you, old Beetle, old Corvair and also not-so-old Porsche) and that – along with oil – cools the engine. Both transfer heat. But no water is involved – which means no radiator; which means no water pump buried deep in the guts of the engine, or hoses or thermostats and (best of all) no road trip-ending leaks. Ever. As well as no ever needing to replace any of those many and often expensive parts – which the air (and airflow plus oil) cooled engine

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No new cars – and just a dwindling handful of new motorcycles –  have engines that rely on the air to cool them.

Technically, it’s airflow – which washes over the exterior surfaces of the engine (in some cases, is forced to wash over the exterior surfaces by an engine-driven fan – that’s you, old Beetle, old Corvair and also not-so-old Porsche) and that – along with oil – cools the engine.

Both transfer heat.

But no water is involved – which means no radiator; which means no water pump buried deep in the guts of the engine, or hoses or thermostats and (best of all) no road trip-ending leaks. Ever. As well as no ever needing to replace any of those many and often expensive parts – which the air (and airflow plus oil) cooled engine hasn’t got.

It also means easier access by dint of not having those extra parts bolted to it and all around it, which makes it easier to get at the engine.

Well, sometimes.

Air-cooled motorcycle engines are easy to get at. They usually hang in the breeze – literally.

The necessity of this – airflow, remember – means not covering the engine with . . . covers. The air-cooled motorcycle engine is generally just there.

Accessible – and visible.

You can lay hands on almost all of it without tools – without having to remove a bunch of peripheral parts first.

This has the additional benefit of looking good – the industrial art of fins and castings, alloys and chrome plating. An air-cooled engine is a work of art that works.

Sometimes, the beauty is hidden beneath tinwork and shrouds – as in the old Beetle, as well other old air-cooled cars like the Chevy Corvair and, of  course, classic (and even fairly recent) Porsches.

Eric Peters
Eric Peters is a freelance car/bike/political columnist. He escaped the corporate-owned media Big Boys years ago. Without the censorship of the corporate tools

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