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Why Keep Your Original Factory A/C System?

We know you have thought about it when planning to restore or modify your classic car or truck - "Should I keep this factory A/C system?"  We get emails and calls all the time as owners seek validation for keeping their classic system and the costs to maintain.  Well, if you ever wondered, here are a couple things to keep in mind:

  • It’s cool.  Literally!  Since many classic cars and truck did not come with factory air-conditioning, and even those that did were often stripped of key parts at some point in its life, having a classic with factory air-conditioning helps it to stand out from the crowd.  Especially if it’s functioning and kicking cool air.
  • Resale value.  Having the original functioning factory air-conditioning has proven to help increase resale value.  It can also help your car sell ahead of one without factory air conditioning.
  • There are still options for getting it fixed, and in some cases, more efficient.  Original Air offers customer rebuilding & fabrication services for many parts for your classic.  We also manufacture model specific (and sometimes custom) parallel-flow condensers, sell model specific Stage-1, 2 & 3 A/C performance upgrade kits designed to improve the factory air-conditioning.
  • No need to modify your car.  Many aftermarket air-conditioning systems require some sort of modification to the vehicle and may not fit as well as the factory engineered system

So, don't think about it!  If you have a factory A/C car or truck, keep it and enjoy the benefits of being cool.

Reader Ride: Andy's 1971 Chevrolet C10 350

This truck was my grandfathers. He gave it to me shortly before he passed away. My father actually sold it to him sometime around 1977 so it has been in our family for many years. Grandpa drove it daily to work for quite some time until he retired. From there it became a work truck. Used for pretty much anything you can use a truck for.

I have had the truck since 1995 and used it as my daily driver for more than 15 years. I was always amazed at how reliable it was. When my last child graduated from high school I began to seriously think about rebuilding it. At first I thought I would just fix the rusted parts and paint it. But I soon realized that wouldn't be good enough. As I took parts off the truck I saw that there was much more deterioration than expected. So I did the only thing a car guy can think of, complete restoration!

The project has taken close to 7 years from disassembly to completion. Well, are we ever really done with our classics? At any rate, I have endeavored to stay as original as possible. I have repaired over replace as much as possible. I had to replace the entire floor pan, pillars and cab corners. And instead of repairing the factory air conditioning I opted for cleaning up the firewall and installing an aftermarket A/C system. And instead of the bench seat I chose to install power bucket seats from a 1997 Suburban. But, I was able to make them look similar to the factory option. I also put in the center console from a 1972 Chevy C10. I liked that style because it has cup holders instead of the slots for the seat belts.

The motor is the original 4 bolt main small block 350. I installed a moderate cam, flat top pistons, headers, and an HEI distributor with an external coil so that it sill looks stock. It has the original quadrajet, that I still need to modify so that it can support the changes to the motor. I also rebuilt the TH350 transmission. I did farm out the rebuild of the 3.08 rear end. I had the frame powder coated and rebuilt or refurbished every piece of sheet metal on the truck. I even went so far as to straighten and clean all of the original trim. All of the bed walls, fenders, etc have been cut apart and cleaned of rust and treated with bed liner. All of this was done in a two car garage, including the painting.

It has been an absolute labor of love that at times I never thought would be done. For over 5 years every weekend and some weeknights were consumed with this project. There are still some things I want to do to improve the performance. But as of this weekend the tailgate will go on the truck marking "completion" of the project. Unfortunately my father and grandfather are not around to see the final result. But my step-father is and he has helped me immensely. While this project at times has been difficult, even grueling, I would do it again in a heart beat. Just not in an attached two car garage!!!

Share your cool classic car or truck with us!

We are always hearing about cool restoration and modified car projects from our customers, and would love to see and share that factory equipped A/C cars. We have added a form to our website so that you can describe and upload pictures of your ride so that we may share with our customers worldwide. So get your car cleaned up, grab a camera, and send us your best shots!

Click Here! To Submit Your Ride

Reader Ride: Dave's 1973 Chevy Nova

Many thanks to Dave Keillor for sharing his beautiful Chevy Nova with us!

Our Nova is a low-mileage car that was originally sold in North Carolina.  It came with factory air and I recently upgraded to a R-134a system from Original Air.  The new system is great!  Mid-30s from the center vent and plenty of cool for the hottest days.  The folks at Classic Auto Air's Original Air Group were great!

  • Condenser
  • Hoses
  • Compressor
  • Switch
  • Drier
  • Expansion Valve
  • Suction Valve

Questions To Ask Before A Classic Car Purchase

We all know the basic questions to ask when buying a car. Is the title clean, does anything not work, etc? You know the deal. But there are a few different kinds of question to ask when purchasing a classic. This is simply due to the fact that you're purchasing a 25 to 50-year-old vehicle. Here are a few things to think about before having your name put on the title.

Is There Rust Anywhere? This is a big one. Don't just ask though. Make sure to get under the car with a flashlight and inspect for yourself. Some rust is to be expected, but you'll be able to tell hazardous

Is The Car Currently Registered? If Not When Was It Last? This will give you a great indication of how long the car has been sitting. And if it has been sitting, was it garage kept? Find out!

How Long Have You Owned The Car? This is one you may ask anyway, but if not it's a great way to weed out how many times this car may have been flipped by other dealers. The longer they've owned the vehicle, the better.

Why Are You Selling? Another basic question, but an important one. This should be one of the first things you ask as it could lead to many important facts about the car. Maybe it needs work, the upkeep has been too expensive or they would just rather have the money. Hopefully, you get an answer that's more of the latter.


Don't be afraid or feel rude about bringing your own personal inspector to give the car a really thorough look through. You can typically bribe your local mechanic who’s been in the game for a while to come with you if you throw him 50 or 100 bucks for his time. Good luck on your next purchase.

5 Things You Didn't Know About Dodge

1. The Dodge Brothers Started Out Making Bicycles

The Dodge brothers actually started selling transportation through bicycles in Canada in the late 1800s. Above is a patent for a unique dirt-resistant bicycle bearing that set them apart from the competition.

2. Dodge helped produce the first mass-produced car.

The Dodge brothers used their stove parts facility (yes they made stove parts after their bicycle venture) to help manufacture parts the contributed to the making Henry Ford's Model T.

3. Dirty Mary Crazy Larry Was The Chargers First Big Screen Appearance

Contrary to popular belief, the Dukes Of Hazzard was not the first appearance of a Charger on the big screen.

4. Dodge Produced The First Steel Body Car

Edward Budd developed the steel-bodied car in 1912 and came to the Dodge brothers in 1914 to help him mass produce it. Before long they were pumping out 500 steel body car frames per day.

5. Dodge Created The First Car Specifically For Women

In 1950 Dodge released the Dodge La Femme, which was actually a great success. It featured Rosebud upholstery.

VIR Eliminators: What are they and do I need one?

Tim with Original Air explains what a VIR does and why a VIR eliminator may make sense for your factory ac equipped classic GM car.

Reader Ride: 1977 Pontiac Trans AM 400Z

Original Air customer, Dave Barron, submitted his 1977 Pontiac Trans AM 400Z that we are featuring this month:

Purchased the car in AZ. in 1984 (spent its whole life there) brought back to MI. in 1985 and stored inside for 24 years. In 2009 / 10 we had a complete frame off restoration done, to as close to OEM as possible. ALL body metal is original, numbers matching, drove it to the first stop of the resto. Car is driven by my wife in the summer only runs like new currently has little over 2K miles on it. Saved and reused all original AC components with exception of the heat exchanger, with the new modern refrigerant it needed a different one, works great all work was upgraded by Florida Air and still works great today. Many additional little details, too much to place here, suffice to say it is virtually original, and people video her driving it.

All About POA Valves

The factory air systems from the 60s into the 70s included what is called a POA valve to regulate the flow of refrigerant in the AC system.  Tim breaks down some of the various valves used over time, along with restoration options for these valves.

5 Less Common Detailing Tips

There are a lot of ways to detail a car, and there are a lot of products to help you do so. If you're a classic car owner, chances are you've been gladly making yours shine for years with your own set of routines and products. Well, there are a few extra tips we'd like to give you that you may not have thought of before. 

1. Clean The Top Of The Windows.

At some point during your cleaning, roll down the windows just a little bit and clean the very tops of them. Not doing so can result in smudges and you’ll have no idea where they came from. 

2. Treat Your Trim

Your trim can look better with a specialized treatment for plastic. Use a plastic restoration product for all your trim before waxing and you’ll notice quite a difference up close and on the overall appearance of your ride.

3. Brush Your Carpets

If you don’t have a vacuum accessory with a brush on it, you should replace that friction with a nylon brush. This helps loosen up the carpet fibers and get all that hard to reach dirt out. The amount of that hard to reach dirt can amount to more than you can imagine.

4. Use 2 Water Buckets

One bucket needs to be your regular mixture of water and cleaner, the other just water in it. This is so you don’t put all that dirt from your car back into the bucket when rinsing your cleaning. This is a very common mistake.

5. Read The Directions!

Always take a minute to read the directions of your products. Some products work much more efficiently if the directions are followed correctly. That little bit always counts when you’re striving for perfection.