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Firebird Conversion Project

A short while ago, we received an evaporator unit from a client. It's originally from a 1969 Firebird that we're going to convert into a 1970 Nova. You can see it's stuffed with a lot of debris so first, we're going to do a little cleaning. On top of some mild maintenance, it clearly took some heavy fiberglass damage in transit, so we're going to have to also repair the damage it received being shipped.

Check out some before photos of the part, and stay tuned for this Firebird's conversion into a 1970 Nova evaporator unit!

Mecum Auctions

This past week, we checked out some of the amazing classics for sale at the Mecum Auctions in Kissimmee, Florida. We came across this 1967 Buick Riviera. She had a 430 CI V-8 engine along with a 4 barrel carburetor and automatic transmission. Her factory air-conditioning, clock, and gauges all remain intact. She also has soft ray tinted glass and clean, vinyl roofing that makes any other convertible pale in comparison. Take a peek at this beauty:

Although we'd prefer to drive countless miles through Kissimmee as opposed to walking, we've had a spectacular time so far. Stay tuned for more!

Should You Tint Your Classic's Windows?

We’re based in the sunshine state, so our average climate doesn’t exactly help classic cars’ air conditions. Apart from performing routine maintenance on your classic’s AC, one preventative measure to keep it performing its best is tinting its windows.

You have control over the tint’s shade and UV blockage. Not only that, but your options are almost limitless. You can save money and apply the tint yourself, or you can find a local shop to do it for you.

One issue people find with tinting a classic’s windows is that it’s essentially a modification. Some feel that any changes such as altering the factory glass take some of the originality out of the car. However, if done correctly, tinting is temporary and can be removed at any time.

If you’re still not on board, consider this: your classic’s AC is precious, especially if it’s original. Therefore, it needs any help it can get to stay functional. The biggest advantage with window tints is that the film can block anywhere from 35-65 % of heat from building up in the car. You can decrease both fuel consumption and AC wear, ultimately putting a lot less stress on it. Plus, installing window tints protects your investment, blocks up to 99% unhealthy UV rays that harm your skin and upholstery, and hinders windshield glare from sunlight and headlights. Classic car guru and enthusiast Andrew Golseth gives his views on tinting classic windows here.

We personally recommend ceramic window tint. It’s completely metal-free so in addition to 99% UV protection, glare control, and heat rejection, it won’t interfere with any of your electronics. Its nano-ceramic technology is also customizable; you have a range of different charcoal shades to choose from that pairs best with your classic.

Applying a tint specifically to the windshield is legal in most states, but we recommend you check out your local laws to be on the safe side.

3 Reasons to Upgrade to Parallel Flow A/C Condenser

Seeking better performance from your AC system? Consider changing from your traditional tube and fin condenser to a parallel flow condenser. Modern condensers are more efficient due to the materials used and increased surface area.

ac condenser

A little history on the automotive air conditioner condenser. Copper was the preferred metal used with R12 to allow for efficient heat exchange as refrigerant flowing through the system. Condensers were designed as one continuous tube wrapping back and forth across a plane to allow for heat to radiate away from the system. Although more expensive, eventually aluminum began replacing copper as a more effective way to provide the necessary cooling. From the tubes being made of aluminum, to also the fins manufactured from aluminum, ac systems continue to evolve.

Today, manufacturers utilize parallel flow condensers with R134a. Using multiple tubes rather than just a traditional single tube, parallel flow condensers maximize contact with the refrigerant to increase the transfer of heat away from the system. This allows the automotive air conditioning system to run even more efficiently than the tube and fin setup.

In summary, here is why you should consider investing in a parallel flow condenser as an upgrade to your tube and fin setup:

  • There is more metal surface area available for the refrigerant to pass over leading to more efficient heat exchange.
  • Our Parallel flow condensers are built to be direct bolt-in replacements of the OE unit – no modification needed on your car.
  • Refrigerant utilized can be either R12 or R134a, and is ideal if you are considering upgrading to R134a.

Here at Original Air, we manufacture our own line of parallel condensers that are direct/exact fit for your original factory AC system.

VIR Eliminators and Extra Parts

Original Air’s VIR Eliminator kits are designed to replace all VIRs that GM manufactured. While the orientation of the evaporator tubing varies from car to car, the VIR Assemblies are all the same.

The tubing needs to be manipulated even when removing and reinstalling the stock VIR. The same is true when using our Eliminator kits.

Our customer who has a classic Chevrolet Nova needed the orifice block and associated lower evaporator tube to be moved toward the evaporator case so that there was clearance for the accumulator to sit vertically (critical to allow oil flow back to the compressor). He was hesitant to do so until we explained about removing/reinstalling the original VIR.

The tubing will move where you want it to, but remember to be gentle.

Not too long ago, we had a customer requesting an extra part for the upper fitting of the accumulator since his upper evaporator tube didn’t seem long enough.

Note that if your fitting is too short, it means one of two things:

  • Someone has modified it
  • The wrong evaporator is in the vehicle

All original VIR Equipped vehicles can utilize the Eliminator kit, as long as the rest of the system (evaporator, liquid hose, compressor suction hose) are in factory stock form.

73-76 GM A/C Valves-In-Received (VIR) - REBUILT

Where to Buy Muscle Cars Online

When shopping anywhere on the Internet, there are two rules. First, make sure the site you are purchasing from is secured. Second, if it feels like a scam, it most likely is. If it’s too good to be true, don’t trust it. With those rules in mind, the Internet has a wealth of knowledge and resources for finding every kind of muscle car you can imagine. There are three primary ways to safely purchase a muscle car the web, each with their own positives and negatives. Prioritize your needs for purchasing methods and what makes you feel most confident in purchasing from the Internet.

Online Car Auctions

There are lots and lots of car auction sites out there. Some big, some small, with varying degree of price, quality, and location. Some of the most well-known and well -respected auction houses are Mecum, Barrett-Jackson, and ClassicCars.com. Each of these sites list some of the most sought after cars in the world and they are some of the most trusted auction houses in the business.

We prefer to use eBay Motors. It offers a certain level of security and buying options. eBay can be a slippery slope and people have been known to fall for scammers, but we refer you back to rule number 2: if it feels like a scam, it most likely is. When spending any large amount of money, be sure to contact the seller and develop a rapport with them as best you can before you purchase anything and do your best to see the car before purchasing. If you haven’t purchased from eBay before, here is a useful resource with some simple steps on how to go about doing so.

Online Classifieds

The classifieds are a dodgy group of websites, so the rules apply here heavily. Do not mistake them for dealers. These are websites that advertise independent sellers. There are many out there that have not been updated for years, so I would stick with the first page of Google when searching for these sites. Here is a little list of some of the best classifieds out there (in no particular order). Again, be always wary of scams, no matter the site.

  • Craigslist – We know, we know, this might be an obvious choice, but it is one of the best resources from gauging local prices in the area, and it deserves a mention. Craigslist offers anything and everything so be prepared to spend some time searching here to find what you are looking for. Again, be careful of scams.
  • Forums – Find yourself a model-specific forum (http://www.chevelles.com/forums/) and delve into the classifieds section (http://www.chevelles.com/classifieds/) if the forum has one. Forums are great for information on any muscle car you can think of, so use them wisely.
  • Autotempest One of the most top-rated sites that encompasses almost every major listing site out there.  It sorts by distance according to zip, make and model. It is honestly one of, if not the best way to search classifieds. http://www.autotempest.com/
  • Carsonline.com - One of the most muscle car-specific sites available.  While this site is straight out of the 90s, it provides you information to outside listings that you may not be able to find your own search.

Online Muscle Car Dealers

These dealers tend to be higher priced but carry a lot of rare and beautiful cars, so they’re at least a useful source to look at some great cars. Like a lot of auction sites, they can be small and regionally located. We always recommend going with the larger sites if you’re going to buy just for safety’s sake, but as with any online purchase, always assume a certain amount of risk.

If you do shop online dealers, do your best to see the car before you buy. This is an investment, not an Amazon purchase. Listed below are some of our favorite dealers.

The Internet has completely changed the way we purchase everything, so always be careful. Finding the best deal online takes time and energy, so be meticulous and most importantly, have fun. We wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t fun.

Is R134a Right for my Muscle Car?

If the air conditioning system in your car is not running properly for one reason or another, you are probably looking into fixing it or getting it replaced. However, if your vehicle was made before 1995, like many muscle cars, it most likely contains R12 and you might consider converting to 134a. The debate between R12 and 134a is a complicated one, so we've answered five main questions you might have when approaching this problem. 

  1. What’s the difference between R12 and 134a? R12 and 134a are refrigerants used in car air conditioning systems. R12 was used in most cars and trucks until 1995 when it was replaced with 134a. Other than new car manufacturers over the last few years having switched to 1234yf, it's remained in use ever since.  The main difference between the two is that R12 is the amount of time they remain in earth's atmosphere, with the newer 134a significantly less than the old R12.

  1. Why was the manufacturing of R12 banned? R12 contains CFCs like hairspray once did, that is potentially damaging to the ozone layer. It was banned because of this potential environmental risk and replaced by 134a because 134a, using synthetic oil over mineral oil, does not have as much of a negative environmental impact that R12 does. 

  1. Why should I make the switch from R12 to 134a? The manufacturing ban on R12 makes it difficult to find at most auto stores now.  If you can find R12, it has either been stored or it's been imported.  Either way, it'll be fairly expensive, especially when compared with 134a. 

  1. How do I convert an R12 air conditioning system to a 134a system? There are conversion kits that can help as well as conversion calculators online to aid in the conversion, but the process easy to follow with simple instructions here.

  1. I've found R12 is effective in my car. Should I still convert to 134a, or should I keep the old R12?  If converted properly, most cars can get the same vent temperatures as the car originally did with the old R12.  There are few exceptions, but generally, cars with undersized evaporators (Corvettes, for one) occasionally struggle in 90' plus heat.  If you truly are adamant about R12, it's recommended that you go through the entire system to ensure it's leak-free for years of trouble-free performance.  Most of the same procedures in converting to 134a will still apply when getting an R12 system back up and running.

All in all, 134a is preferable to R12 because it is readily available, affordable and self-manageable on top of being better for the environment. Hopefully, these answers will help you understand the differences between R12 and 134a and guide you in fixing your car air conditioning system. 

Time Lapse Video of Evaporator Restoration

From our friends at Graveyard Carz, here is a time lapse video showing the disassembly and re-assembly of a rare 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T Evaporator Housing.

High Blower Speed

In September, we discussed why you should keep your original factory A/C system. But what if it’s not working?

One common issue is that a fan doesn’t reach full capacity, yet all other speeds work. Most people assume the fan switch is bad, but in reality, the cause is usually a bad blower relay. The switch doesn’t control the high speed, it controls the relay which then activates high speed.

While fan switches can eventually fail, typically they never do on their own. If a fan switch does burn out (due to a loose terminal, there are burn marks on its back, or loses any speed other than high) it’s typically the result of a deteriorating blower motor which is drawing high amperage (or a bad ground connection to the motor).

The same is the case with resistors and relays. If a resistor has a coil burn out or any terminals lose, it’s likely the blower motor. Replacing any of those components without changing or repairing the blower motor may fix the issue temporarily. However, this will only cause the newly installed parts to fail again.

So before you order any new parts for a fan that does not reach high speed, remember to check the blower motor and connections first.

Factory AC

Great classic car events coming in 2019!

As we near the end of 2018, it’s time to start thinking about next year’s vacation! Whether you want to enter into a show, participate in an auction, test your speed or just relax and spectate, check out these events happening next year across the globe!

Saturday Night Car Cruise - EVERY SATURDAY!

If you can’t make it to annually scheduled events, don’t worry. Old Town is home to one America’s longest-running weekly car show and cruise, with show-quality pre-87 model hot rods, street rods, and antiques. The event includes giveaways, cash prizes, live entertainment and best of all, it happens every weekend in Kissimmee, Florida!

The Scottsdale Auctions - January 12 – 20, 2019

Each year, Scottsdale hosts a thriving automotive marketplace. Check out the high-quality assortment of vehicles from entry-level models to full classic models up for auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. Bid on something new or consign your old at the Scottsdale Auctions!

Amelia Island Concours - March 7 – 11, 2019

Car collectors and enthusiasts alike will want to plan for this event. Experience auctions, test-drives and seminars from renowned automotive drivers and designers on the Atlantic coast in Amelia Island, Florida. The weekend culminates with the Concours d’Elegance, a distinguished judged car show with some of the world’s finest.

The Classic at Pismo Beach Car Show - May 31 – June 2, 2019

This FREE event attracts automobile enthusiasts from all over the country and is open to all makes and models of cars. In addition to the peer-judged competition, special hand-selected awards are given to the very best. Located on the beautiful Pacific coast, this is an event you won’t want to miss.

Carlisle Nationals - June 21 – 22, 2019

GM enthusiasts, this is for you. Discover an array of vehicles, including vintage muscle to modern models. This family-friendly event in Carlisle, Pennsylvania offers a weekend full of displays, customs, industry leaders and much more.

Goodwood Revival - September 13 – 15, 2019

Plan an international trip and check out this three-day festival that includes head-to-head racing, a car show of pre-66 models and much more. The festival is held annually at Goodwood Circuit, near Chichester, West Sussex and close to the south coast of England. This is an event you don’t want to miss.