When it comes to hot rods, some things just go hand in hand-like mustard and ketchup, peas and carrots, and lamb chops and tuna fish. (Alright, maybe not the last one, but for sure the first two.) In the world of hot rods, things like flames, pinstriping, and hopped-up engines are all second nature to the movement. But the staples of hot rod fashion don't stop there, the list goes on. Take louvers, for instance. They have also been adopted into the hot rod community as a mainstay.

Originally louvers, or at least the idea of louvers, appeared in the Middle Ages on houses. Louvers were designed to ventilate houses, but also to keep out rain and snow. In order to do so, louvers were designed with rounded tops and vented bottoms that met the dual purpose. As times changed and the Industrial Revolution came about, society became dependant on engines and machinery. Eventually cars and trucks became more efficient, and so did their bigger and better engines. Before too long, engines were outgrowing their capacity. The small engine bays that motors were being crammed into didn't exactly allow for adequate breathing room, in terms of keeping hot air out and cool air in. It wasn't too long before auto manufacturers turned to the concept of louvers to decrease high engine bay temperatures and to move air through the bays.

What came to be are what we now associate with louvers: a stamped vent, or series of vents, found in sheetmetal. Although different in appearance, these new modern louvers accomplished what their predecessors did: provide ample breathing with protection from the elements (and from road debris).

As one could imagine, it wasn't too long before the early hot rodders caught on to the advantages of louvers. With superchargers, Olds V-8s, Hemis, and more, being stuffed into cramped spaces of '32 Fords and Model As, alternate means of aeration were needed-the louvers were right up their alley. They were practical, efficient, and, most of all, easy on the eyes. In fact, they were more than easy on the eyes. Louvers offered a sense of attitude and persona to a hot rod, and often times even defined a hot rod. So much so that as the use and popularity of louvers grew, hot rodders began using them in situations that were only for aesthetics. Roofs, trunk lids, tailgates of trucks, roll pans, and more popped up all over the place with louvers punched in them. There were no boundaries where a louver could and could not go. Before long, hot rodders across America were caught up with the idea and look of louvers.

Today things are no different. We hot rodders still use louvers to enhance the look and performance of our vehicles and our trucks. On any given Sunday you can head out to a local show and find a custom classic truck with an onslaught of louvers punched in it. Whether it's a hood, tailgate, roll pan, or tonneau cover, there's no lack of louvers in the hot rod community. From the look of things, it's going to stay that way for a while.

Punching louvers is a pretty simple process. A piece of sheetmetal is pressed between two dies to form the punched-louver look. The physical part of punching the louver only takes a small percentage of time. The layout of louvers on a panel is what takes up the majority of the time. After all, spacing and placement is crucial in punching louvers, because once you punch that first one, you're all in. Buying a kit to punch louvers at home or at the shop is an option in getting some louver work done. However, farming out a project like this is also a viable option. Although it may take some detective work to find a louver-punching outfit in your area, there are guys out there who handle this sort of work.