THE SHOP

Performance & Hotrod Business - May '15

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M ost of us who are of primary hot rod age remember summer car-trip vaca- tions with the windows rolled down, air buffeting all around, and the unforget- table meeting of short pants and hot vinyl. Factory air conditioning for cars had been theoretically available since the 1940s, and had made great strides in efficiency by the late 1950s. But in the 1960s, even most luxury-class buyers still skipped A/C as an expensive frivolity. Somewhere between Then and Now, air conditioning morphed from frivolity to luxury to necessity. We got older, of course, but traffic density and consumer expecta- tions also increased. Try to find a new OEM vehicle without air conditioning, beyond the basest of base models. You can't. Now try to find a hot rod, muscle car or any other kind of custom-vehicle enthusi- ast who doesn't want it. "The majority of custom-modified vehicles, whether street rods or muscle cars, are now built with air condition- ing," observed Steve Schlottman, a tech- nician at Old Dog Street Rods in St. Louis, Riding Cool Modern air conditioning for older cars is more in demand than ever before. By John F. Katz HOTROD Missouri. These cars tend to be used mostly in the summer, anyway, "when people are traveling to shows." Hardcore performance purists—"people building muscle muscle cars," in Schlottman's words, may still eschew A/C, but they are found fewer and further in between. Fortunately, "the newer A/C units have become more reliable and easier to install," added Old Dog President Jim Pavelec. More "factory-fit" models are now avail- able, which not only simplifies installation, but results in a more integrated appear- ance." Additionally, the installers we con- tacted stock or even make a wide variety of fittings, hoses, and brackets, as well as the most common heat and A/C boxes for in-dash installation. More importantly, perhaps, electronic controls enhance system performance and operate regardless of engine vacuum. Modern aftermarket systems have become so sophisticated—and their manufacturers so astute at developing hardware to fit in tight spaces—that, according to Pavelec, Ford Motor Company turned to aftermar- ket supplier Vintage Air to engineer an A/C system for the 2005 Ford GT. Let's take a look at the aftermarket air equipment available to today's custom- car builder—and at some creative ways to use it. The Pre-Eminence of Electronics Bill Carberry, who owns Cap-A- Radiator and LI Classic Restorations in Farmingdale, New York, is the largest Vintage Air dealer/installer in the New York metro area. Most of the newest aftermarket units feature modern electronic control of air distribution. "Electronic actuators have also made installation easier, and elimi- nated the need to rout cables," Carberry added. Vacuum controls are only used in a few specialized applications, so "cars with high-performance engines no longer have the problem of poor engine vacuum affect- ing heat and A/C control." "We're not big fans of vacuum," added Rick Farr, sales manager for Old Air Products in Fort Worth, Texas. "That's not to say that we don't use it when we have to, but we prefer to have it cable 56 n Performance & Hotrod Business n May 2015 A '65 Impala aluminum radiator with electric dual fans and shroud assembly to pull adequate air for the condenser and the radiator. (Courtesy Bill Carberry, Cap-A-Radiator)

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