Vintage Air University

To say “things change” would be an understatement. When we began, almost forty years ago, our challenge was convincing rodders that they even needed air conditioning! Then, our main goal was to produce a compact reliable air conditioning system that would deliver enough cool air to satisfy basic expectations. But we don’t need to tell you that the level of technology, sophistication and performance of special interest cars has surpassed anything we foresaw back then. As suspension and engine technology improved, the expectations and comfort demands of today’s car enthusiasts increased as well.

To stay on the leading edge, Vintage Air has continually improved our systems every year since the beginning. Today we make much more than just cold air. And the owners of today’s specialty vehicles want to enjoy their driving experience in almost any weather conditions or environment.
So, how have we evolved the simple air conditioner into a modern, full-function climate control system? This section is an overview of that progression.

Meeting A Great Challenge
At the time Vintage Air was founded in 1976, the cooling goals of aftermarket auto air conditioning systems were fairly easily achieved because the commonly used refrigerant, CFC-12 allowed even smaller systems to produce very low vent temps. As you probably know, the old industry standard refrigerant, more commonly known as “R-12”, is no longer being produced. In fact it hasn’t been produced or sold in the U.S. for many years now based on the fact that the chlorine component (in chloro-fluro carbon 12) has been identified as the primary offender in ozone depletion theory, affecting legislation in this country and virtually every other industrialized nation in the world. The refrigerant then selected by all automakers worldwide to replace CFC-12 was HFC-134a. The primary difference is the use of hydrogen in place of the chlorine atoms. Hydrogen is relatively benign to the atmosphere and HFC-134a is less harmful. The OEMs switched, but response to this legislation by many aftermarket A/C manufacturers was to try dubious, even dangerous, substitute refrigerants to avoid the expense and engineering required to “do it right.” People even hoarded supplies of R-12 for a while, driving the price beyond the reach of most car owners.

Doing The Right Thing
Vintage Air is proud to say that we began research and development on the (then new) HFC-134a very early in 1982 and, in fact, we designed and produced our own production 134a systems a full five years before federal laws finally mandated its use.

All this means that you will be installing a 134a refrigerant system in any vehicle in the U.S., regardless of the system’s brand or manufacturer. It also means that there is no option, when trying to restore a vintage car’s air conditioning system, to upgrading the entire system to use 134a refrigerant. Yes, some vintage OEM systems can be modified to run on 134a with replacement hoses and fittings, condenser, drier, and some hard to find evaporator parts. But the truth is it will be a lot cheaper to remove all those tired old air conditioning components from your vintage car and install one of our complete SureFit or Universal systems with all new, state-of-the-art components designed to work together from the start. Check out our bolt-in, SureFit systems beginning here.

NEXT: Upgrading A Vintage Air R-12 System