A history of staying cool on the go

Running On Empty

By Nate

In the midst of the worst heat wave of the summer thus far here's a quick look at the history of automotive air conditioning, courtesy of car expert Jim MacPherson.


-The first factory-installed air conditioners were enjoyed by a handful of early motorists who bought 1939 Packards. The cost for the units was $275, a significant sum in the days when you could buy a new Ford for $640. Air conditioning continued to be offered by Packard and a few other automakers through 1942 until civilian auto production was discontinued for World War II.


- The major breakthrough in automotive air conditioning can be credited to Nash Motors. In 1954, Nash began offering a unit that packaged all the components under the hood and behind the instrument panel, blowing cooled air from dash-mounted vents. When Nash merged with Hudson to create American Motors, the new company continued to offer air conditioning using this design and just about every other car maker copied it.


-Aftermarket units became popular in the late 1950s and 60s. The evaporator could be mounted in the trunk or was in a box that was mounted under the center of the instrument panel. Factory installed air conditioners in Fords used the under-dash-box design until 1965.



For more, check out this week's edition of On the Road

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