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History When was the first time you saw air conditioning in a hot rod?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 56don, Feb 26, 2020.

  1. Like a lot of you guys, I never put air conditioning in any car. When I was young and got interested in cars we took off any power robbing accessories. I never got used to it.
    Even living in the deep south, I don't use the a/c in my newer vehicles, I lower the windows. I love the wind blowing across my bald head and all the road noise. Wouldn't even have it on in my house if it weren't for my son and dog who still live with me.
    It just seems like it is not really a "hot rod" if it has luxury accessories on it. It also detracts from the looks of an engine compartment to see that mess in there I think. But..thats just my opinion. To each, his own.
    I was just wondering when this trend started in other parts of the country. Like I said in the original post, I never saw it until the mid 1970s when the street rods with all the power accessory stuff took hold.
  2. Gman0046
    Joined: Jul 24, 2005
    Posts: 6,211


    gkz4KZrsQg6RQf%PzkX6Sw.jpg 56don, I to live in the South and can't imagine why some on this site love to sweat their asses off for no reason. Don't know about y'all but my wife and I sure like to be comfortable. Who wants to smell like a hog and have wet drawers and need a shower after a 3-4 hour road trip? Who in their right mind cares about an A/C compressor detracting from the looks of an engine compartment? I don't see any mess in my 60 Pontiacs engine compartment. It probably looks better then most. Besides I don't usually open my hood to show it off to people I don't even know. I build my cars for me not for others to look at. Does anyone really think the A/C compressor on my Poncho detracts from an otherwise good looking engine compartment? If your building cars to impress people I feel sorry for you. Your in this hobby for the wrong reasons.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2020
  3. Rusty Heaps
    Joined: May 19, 2011
    Posts: 598

    Rusty Heaps

    It wasn't until two years ago that I saw air conditioning in my own off topic vehicle, I didn't know there was such a thing until then!:eek:
  4. goldmountain
    Joined: Jun 12, 2016
    Posts: 1,818


    Since I seem to have placed myself in the pro - air conditioning ranks, let me qualify that. On the T coupe I am currently building, I spent a lot of time fabricating a housing and mounting an AC evaporator. It fit real nice and looked good but I realized that I really couldn't fit under that to wire the car, so goodbye AC. I have come to my senses.
  5. I just knew someone would have to think I was dissing on their car. You do not even drive the type of car I am talking about..i.e. a 1948 and older hot rod. Why would you take this post as a personal offense? Opinions my dear friend should not be taken personal. I don't sweat in my cars with the windows down. I ride in my 32 coupe with the windows down, the windshield out and the back window down and its like riding in a convertible without the sun on your head. I have lived in the south seventy years, I am used to the heat, it does not bother me that much.
    -Brent- and Baumi like this.
  6. Back in the '50's when I was in high school I had cars that, I suppose, would qualify here as a hot rod. But now at the age of 76, I've been there and done that and I ain't doin' that no more. My jalopies have A/T, P/S, P/B and A/C. Call them whatever you want, but call me comfortable.
  7. Boodlum
    Joined: Dec 19, 2007
    Posts: 323


    56don, I am raised in Texas in times when home/auto air conditioning was a rarity. Our family's first car with A/C was a 1955 Pontiac Star Chief with an aftermarket A/C unit. My father used A/C mostly on long trips and, huddled against the back seat, it almost froze me to death. Still remember the under dash unit freezing up and spitting ice on me. Anyway I was raised with no A/C and to this day even when it's 100deg outside usually ride with the windows down.

    ETA: About the Star Chief - it had an illuminated orange Indian chief hood ornament that one of the ranch horses tried to eat and horse teeth fractured the orange plastic in a thousand tiny cracks but it stayed together. I really liked that sparkling Indian head.

    Back on topic...
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2020
    56don and olscrounger like this.
  8. Don, come clean, I know you have air in that coupe. :D HRP
  9. Boodlum
    Joined: Dec 19, 2007
    Posts: 323


    One of the reasons I got A/C work as a teenager was I could squeeze myself under the dash to do the install. That and I was not afraid to use a propane torch to find freon leaks. Always had another person on hand to drag me out from the car when the flame turned from yellow to green. That green flame was phosgene nerve gas and you lost consciousness/died in a few seconds. We were fearless and immortal.
  10. Flathead Dave
    Joined: Mar 21, 2014
    Posts: 2,875

    Flathead Dave
    from So. Cal.

    A/C makes my car cool.
    lemondana likes this.
  11. <--- I installed heat & air in my old beater when I installed the interior, I still call my car a hot rod and really don't care what others call it. HRP
    lemondana, 47ragtop, wicarnut and 5 others like this.
  12. olscrounger
    Joined: Feb 23, 2008
    Posts: 3,841


    I have put AC in many 40's--it is hidden pretty well-nice when it is 110. We drove wife's black 55 for many years with no AC. Traveled at night when it was 100 plus on long trips. It now has AC as well. Drove it to Laughlin once and when we arrived it was 119! Not too comfortable--on return trip we left at 5am to beat the heat.
    At 77 I like to be comfortable and wife as well.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2020
  13. Danny, that was the first thing I removed from it right after I got it home, along with those power windows.
  14. okiedokie
    Joined: Jul 5, 2005
    Posts: 3,896

    from Ok

    ME TOO!
    rockable and Gman0046 like this.
  15. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 6,528

    Bandit Billy

    According to Vintage Air, they are close to perfecting their electric AC compressor that can be mounted anywhere. Then no one will know who to make fun of...except for the cars with radial tires of course, and stereos, electric fans, EFI, IFS, tru spokes, disc brakes, moon tanks, braided lines, red fuel line, any color other than black, trailer queens, car alarms, LEDs...
    Gman0046, partsdawg and rockable like this.
  16. Good for you, I absolutely hated the power windows and to be totally honest I never even tried the air to see if it worked, did you install a heater? HRP
  17. No, I've got one but haven't decided if I want to install it or not. Cold weather and me do not get along good and I usually don't go anywhere when its cold. Old thin skin I guess.
  18. i.rant
    Joined: Nov 23, 2009
    Posts: 2,858

    from Illinois
    1. 1940 Ford

    Since this thread has gotten way off the original post I’d be curious to know just how many road trips/miles the the anti heat/air commandos are racking up in a year.;)
    Mr48chev likes this.
  19. finn
    Joined: Jan 25, 2006
    Posts: 675


    Problem with air conditioning in a hot rod is that it’s a slippery slope. If air is ok, why not a Mustang II front suspension and the latest Chevy LS, or whatever they call them, engine?

    Where do you draw the line?
  20. Boodlum
    Joined: Dec 19, 2007
    Posts: 323


    Trunk-mount evaporator units would make the entire thing (except condenser) able to be mounted in the trunk.

    Local guy been chasing me to do restoration on a JEMCO Mark IV trunk mount unit that was factory installed in his 1960 Facel Vega Excellence (43 total production). Rare, expensive beast. Amelia/Pebble Beach level car. Will not be easy or cheap. He does have a NOS compressor.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2020
    Bandit Billy likes this.
  21. 392
    Joined: Feb 27, 2007
    Posts: 1,118


    To answer question not sure but guessing around time street rods were the in thing. Personally I’ll never have on mine now but if I had a full fender 40-60 ride I’d entertain it for sure.
    56don likes this.
  22. jimmy six
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 6,342

    jimmy six

    So...nobody knows when they saw the first one in a hot rod......I’m guessing halfzimers.
    56don likes this.
  23. junkyardjeff
    Joined: Jul 23, 2005
    Posts: 7,396


    Back in the mid 90s I put a/c in my 53 olds,seen a Sears under dash system in a 61 Olds in a junkyard so I grabbed it and was in and working in the 53 by the next weekend. Do not think I have much more then 70 dollars in it and it was nice and cold.
  24. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 26,880


    Remembering that I was 40 something years younger when I was driving the 48 in Texas in 100+ heat and driving though West Texas when the pavement was melting in Abaline at noon and splashing on the insides of the fenders like mud on a wet dirt road I feel that I have earned my no AC creds and my wife of 50 years has damned well earned hers.
    I've got one question. How many of you rabidly vocal anti AC or heat guy actually put real miles on your cars. I mean getting in the car and driving 1500, 2000 or 2500 one way miles to an even over three or four days of driving? Then doing it on a regular or annual basis and not loading the "traditional" hot rod on a trailer and hauling it behind the under 10 year old crew cab.? You can be pretty macho when you have never driven the rod more than 100 miles one way from home base.
    das858, Allmotor, 47ragtop and 5 others like this.

  25. My man, my man. I am with you.

    i.rant likes this.
  26. wicarnut
    Joined: Oct 29, 2009
    Posts: 3,624


    In my 32 3 window I did put an AC unit with heat and defrost, being in Wisconsin I used the heat and defrost part more so than the A/C but was glad I had it on the few hot humid days we get and when traveling. ( longest trip about 300 miles/ 600 round trip )IMO if you drive your car and age/time has caught up with you, why be "macho" suffer just to be Kool Old School Dude, Most All of us old timers now laugh at the stupidity of sweating your butt off in summer. most of us has "Been There, Done That" and know better, with age, some wisdom does come. I do remember when we were all young, creature comforts were not as important, but time changes many things. This spring I'll finish the A/C on my Merc, only need it once in awhile, the car is for sale and A/C seems to be an important issue with the buyers I've talked with that showed interest. I'll Just keep driving it, sooner or later I'll bump into the guy that wants a Mercury that mine matches his vision to enjoy or change into his dream Mercury And we can meet up on the money part.
    lemondana, olscrounger and i.rant like this.
  27. goldmountain
    Joined: Jun 12, 2016
    Posts: 1,818


    Got a whiff of that. Really takes your breath away.

    Sent from my SM-T350 using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  28. 47ragtop
    Joined: Feb 8, 2007
    Posts: 663


    [QUOTE="Mr48chev, post: 13465480, membe
    I agree 100%. I also am not that hung up on street rod put downs. When. Street was neat and my young family was always with me we had A/C in my 34's. Today I go by myself and my 40 not only does not have air but no radio ,no heat, no PS, PB, PW or even an interior. I think the what ever label you put on me then or now is unimportant to me because I am enjoying my cars just as much then as I am today. Later Bill
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2020
    Algoma56 and upspirate like this.
  29. BamaMav
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 4,148

    from Berry, AL

    We didn't have AC when I was growing up, just a box fan in the window at home, windows down on the cars. After I got married, we got a window unit for the mobile home, you couldn't stay in that tin box in the summer without it. That was the start of it. I worked outside for years, didn't own a vehicle with working AC for a long time. Then I started trucking, sitting in an AC cooled cab all day, hey, this ain't so bad. Now all the drivers have it, the house has it, and the Lincoln will have it before I'm through with it. Once your body gets used to it, it's just about a must have. Plus, the older I get, the less I can take extreme temps, heat or cold. So, I feel with age, that wisdom has come, no need to sweat your ass off when you can be comfortable!
  30. klawockvet
    Joined: May 1, 2012
    Posts: 375


    The very first AC I ever saw in a car was in 1957, but it wasn't a hot rod. It was an add on in a 56 Dodge. My first AC was an under dash aftermarket unit in a new 64 El Camino. If the time line is no later than 1964 I can say for sure I never saw or even heard of an AC in a pre 48 car but I'm sure someone hung an aftermarket unit on one somewhere. I'm fortunate that I have always lived in a part of the country where I could live without AC. All of my old cars are pre 48 and I wouldn't consider AC or automatics as traditional.
    56don likes this.

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