In the new age of Restomod, there are more and more ways to improve the driving experience in a classic muscle car. Going Restomod means driving your vintage muscle and parking the car trailer. Although there are affordable ways to update your classic muscle car’s factory climate control system, many experts will say that you’re better off beginning with a clean sheet of paper—using modern technology to keep you both warm in winter and cool in summer.
We caught up with Rick Love from Vintage Air a while back for a podcast interview. You can hear it here:
Old school factory heating and air conditioning systems used engine intake manifold vacuum to control how the systems functioned. Stored manifold vacuum was used to support system vacuum servo function, to open the hot water control valve, and move the plenum air doors. This setup worked quite well when these vehicles were new, however these antiquated systems have not withstood the test of time. Vacuum hoses become dry rotted and leak, and they get mixed up in the course of maintenance—hence chronic malfunction. Factory systems also have control cables, which tend to decay and bind over time.
Vintage Air brings you a more compact climate control system with computer-controlled electronic servo actuators that function with precision control. They will work reliably for decades and will certainly outlast the system currently in your vintage muscle car. Sliding controls tied to a microprocessor deliver exactly what you want from a high-tech heating and air system.
We’re working with a 1970 Ford Mustang, with is basically the same as any first generation 1965-73 Mustang or Mercury Cougar and nearly any classic muscle car imaginable. Mustangs and Cougars prior to 1969 have welded-in dashboards. Beginning in 1969, Ford went to the same approach as GM and Chrysler: bolt-in dashboards you can remove for “behind-the-dash” service. Disconnect and unbolt and access is easy.
Vintage Air Gen-IV SureFit Systems are complete climate control kits that will install in your muscle car over a weekend. These “fly-by-wire” computer-controlled systems function with electronic servo actuators and sliding controls.
Translated: There are no cables or capillary tubes to mess with.
Gen-IV systems are model-specific to your classic muscle car and offer climate-control technology for bi-level airflow and accurate temperature air blending. We really like this approach to heating and cooling.
While you have the dashboard removed, consider what you need to be with the climate control system removed—insulation, sound deadening, rust proofing, and the like before putting it all back together.
Once the Vintage Air SureFit system is installed, have a qualified air conditioning shop inspect your installation first, then have them pull the system down (vacuum) and properly charge it with R-134a refrigerant.
Jim Smart is a veteran automotive journalist, technical editor, and historian with hundreds of how-to and feature articles to his credit. Jim's also an enthusiast, and has owned and restored many classic vehicles, including an impressive mix of vintage Ford Mustangs.