We all know that when your factory AC is working on a hot summer day, you simply enjoy the pleasures of your car more. It's a great feeling when you just spent several hours hanging out by your car during a get together, rally or car show and can literally chill driving back home. You know that having working air conditioning is valuable to you, but can having a functional AC system also increase your car's monetary value?
This car was recently spotted at Mecum for sale. Think it would have sold for more with working AC?
The Reasons For Restoring Factory AC
Recently while attending the 2022 Mecum Kissimmee auction, we noticed quite a few cars that had factory AC systems still installed, but several of them were non-working. When you are getting a car ready for sale, typically you would go through the entire vehicle and make sure that leaks are addressed, interior is clean, exterior is washed and waxed, etc. You know...doing what you can to get the most value out of the vehicle. But why would you skip taking care of the AC?
The factory air-conditioning systems on cars from the 60s-early 90s were typically an option that had to be specified by the dealer or optioned by the customer when ordering. We have seen many of the early cars go for exponentially more money when optioned with AC versus not having the factory AC. When reviewing the cars and trucks at Mecum, it is usually documented on the spec sheet so buyers are aware that the vehicle has factory AC.
So back to the AC question - is it worth restoring back to fully functioning? YES! Unless it is a track car, you should always repair it and make it operational again. Remember, the AC system has a compressor, condenser, hoses, and an evaporator. Each of these are components that have a potential to fail, making the whole system inoperable. This is not like a radio not working. There are a lot of parts under the hood that require engine operation to make it all work, including the AC. But, it's an investment that provides a return as it is a selling point for most buyers. Just think how much complete aftermarket systems cost when factory AC was not included on the vehicle!
Here are a couple of other things to consider. If you are buying a classic car and the factory AC isn't working, could that possibly be an indicator of how well the owner maintained the vehicle? Could there be other issues not immediately present that may influence whether you want to buy the vehicle. Consider where the majority of classic and collectible cars are found...typically in states like California, Florida, Texas and Arizona. These states can be warm year-round and having functional AC is a definite MUST.
So, if your AC is not working or you have a buddy that has a car he/she takes to shows and shows off an engine with the AC disconnected, address the issue and get to fixing it by restoring it or upgrading to a factory system that usea 134a. It's easy and affordable to do, will increase the value of the vehicle, elevate the comfort of your ride.