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Air Conditioning

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  • Air Conditioning

    Help fill my gap in knowledge as well as give me some ideas for the future. I know at some point in time almost every auto manufacturer offered air conditioning as an option. Today it is difficult to find a car without air conditioning. In the mid 60's, when Studebaker produced it's last cars air, conditioning was not as nearly common as it is today. It added up to ten percent to the price of the car. Even so, I know I have seen pictures of Studebakers with under dash air conditioning. Did Studebaker offer in-dash air conditioning units or were all the units mounted under the dash? During what years did Studebaker offer air conditioning as an option? Here is the big question. Has anyone ever mounted a Studebaker underdash air conditioning unit in a car other than the year for which it was intended?

    My ultimate dream is owning a 1951 Commander. Although I want the car to look very original, right down to the floor mounted pedals and three-speed overdrive, I also want certain modern conveniences such as integral power steering, front disc brakes (power if possible), wide whitewall radial tires, and air conditioning. No trailer queens for me! I want to accomplish this using as many authentic Studebaker parts as possible. No SBC, definitely a Stude engine!! While I would be willing to use a different compressor, even an aftermarket one if necessary, I would really like the unit inside the car to be a Studebaker unit. Has anyone ever done or seen this type of conversion? Is it feasible or am I dreaming? Worst case scenario, I could live with an otherwise all Studebaker car equipped with aftermarket air, but I would by far prefer at least the underdash part to be authentic Studebaker. Any technical information, discussion, suggestions, etc. will be appreciated. I know I dream a lot. As you can tell by how much I post that I have too much time on my hands.



  • #2
    Other than the power steering the rest is easy. Bolt in a late V8 drive line, convert to 12 volts and hang a 60's Studebaker AC unit under the dash. 51 is the first year that allows a easy upgrade to late drum, factory or Turner disc brakes.

    Studebaker On The Net
    64 R2 4 speed Challenger (Plain Wrapper)
    63 R2 4 speed GT Hawk
    55 Speedster
    50 2R 10 truck
    JDP Maryland


    • #3
      I just got a Studebaker under dash unit off of ebay, that is correct for '64. I have seen other years on there as well. As for the other components, Vintage Air makes a complete bracket/pulley setup to use a Sanden rotary compressor. Studebaker used a York compressor, but many have steered me away from those. I would recommend you call Vintage Air ( and get the scoop from them (hoses, compressor, etc.) but you will need a Stude V8 for the conversion, they do not make a I6 setup. I would recommend going with R134 since R12 is getting really hard to get and is expensive. You will also need to replace the expansion valve in the old Studebaker unit for R134 compliance.

      Dan White
      64 R1 GT
      64 R2 GT
      Dan White
      64 R1 GT
      64 R2 GT
      58 C Cab
      57 Broadmoor (Marvin)


      • #4
        I think Studebaker offered air as eary as 1956 but it had the evaporator mounted in the trunk. Clear plastic tubes extended from either side of the package shelf for cold air inlet. These were, ofcourse, 12-volt.
        I've seen many Larks and Hawks with underdash factory units. I don't know when indash evaporators and outlets were offerred; certainly not in any 6-volt autos.
        Vintage Air says they can retrofit, with your supplied dimensions, air to any old vehicle. I don't know if that includes 6-volt or if you need to convert to 12-volt.

        At any rate, you're not going find any air original to a 51.
        You can find an underdash Stude evaporator or intrunk evaporator if you're patient, and if it's still capable of holding refrigerant. You're planning on upgrading brakes,steering,etc; putting in stereo? You're switching to 12-volt anyway.
        No 51 with air will look original, but, at 65 miles an hour, no one notices.
        Make your car comfortable enough that you want to drive it everyday.

        "All attempts to 'rise above the issue' are simply an excuse to avoid it profitably." --Dick Gregory

        Brad Johnson, SDC since 1975, ASC since 1990
        Pine Grove Mills, Pa.
        sigpic'33 Rockne 10, '51 Commander Starlight, '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée"


        • #5

          I spent ALL of last winter with my head stuck up the dash of my 51 commander, and I'm sorry to say there just isn't any room in there for anything more than what South Bend put there originally. If you want a Stratoline radio and a glove box, I just don't see any real chance for an IN-dash installation...

          51 Commander State Sedan
          Butler PA


          • #6
            55 was the first year A/C was available in a Stude and only in sedans at that. It was a 6volt system (not that that makes any difference in the basic principles of A/C)but it did have differences in the way it operated with respect to the refridgerant circulation.

            Miscreant at large.

            1957 Transtar 1/2ton
            1960 Larkvertible V8
            1958 Provincial wagon
            1953 Commander coupe
            1957 President 2-dr
            1955 President State
            1951 Champion Biz cpe
            1963 Daytona project FS
            No deceptive flags to prove I'm patriotic - no biblical BS to impress - just ME and Studebakers - as it should be.


            • #7
              Provided it would physically fit the 1951 I hope to buy in the near future, my I would like to acquire a later model ('60's) Studebaker underdash unit. Even if I had to use a different copressor, that would be my first choice. Vintage auto air is definitely an option as well. Again, as long as they make a unit that will physically fit the car and do the job, I could certainly live with aftemarket. Thanks for the information.


              • #8
                All A/C units in Studebakers are aftermarket set ups. Could of been factory or dealer installed, except for the '61 Lark. It had an ingratiated heater and cooling unit.( '61 Larks are different in many respects) Biggs is correct that 55 sedans were the first year for factory installed units. Studebaker was last manufacture to put A/C in their cars. First in almost every thing else, go figure.



                • #9
                  If using R134, remember that you'll need to change the fittings to charge the system. R12 uses a different fitting. Also, you'll want to use a newer condenser designed for R134. There are more fins to help the cooling. Vintage Air can help with the condenser, the lines and fittings.

                  I know you are looking for the look of the old system, but Vintage Air sells a similar A/C system that mounts under the dash. A little creative painting of the outer housing, as well as some chrome vents could pass this unit off as something out of the '50's.

                  Tom - Sterling Heights, MI

                  Ancient Chinese Proverb: "Injection is nice, but I'd rather be blown!"

                  1964 Studebaker Daytona - Laguna Blue, Original 4-Spd. Car, Power Steering, Disc Brakes, Bucket Seats, Tinted Glass, Climatizer Ventilation System, AM Radio (136,989 Miles)
                  Tom - Bradenton, FL

                  1964 Studebaker Daytona - 289 4V, 4-Speed (Cost To Date: $2514.10)
                  1964 Studebaker Commander - 170 1V, 3-Speed w/OD


                  • #10
                    Ray (Studeman) has a nice writeup on air conditioning installs on the ncsdc website, including a real inovative method of mounting the compressor. Take a look at that! A little history - Packard was the first to offer air conditioning as an option in 1938. Douglas MacArthur was famous for driving around Hawaii in an air conditioned Packard during WWII. After the war, air became optional again in Packards. It wasn't until Nash invented the electric compressor clutch in 1955 that it became practical. The 1955 and earlier 6 volt systems use a bypass valve for the freon, and the compressor runs all the time. When you are not using the air, it just recirculates the freon around and back through the pump. You need to convert to 12 volts, because that is what it takes to run the electric clutch on the compressor.
                    Ray's web page is at:
                    Just look around there and you'll fine his methods of installing air conditioning. By the way, the 1964-66 Ford underdash unit and the Pinto underdash units are easy to install, cheap, and work well.


                    • #11
                      This "mounted under the dash" A/C unit on eBay (although from a 57 Ford, the owner claims) looks similar, at least as far as the round chrome vents, to the one in our old 63 Lark we had when I was growing up:

                      Paul Simpson

                      1955 1/2 Ton Pickup
                      The Red-Headed Amazon
                      Deep in the heart of Texas


                      • #12
                        If you scrol 1/2 way down this page


                        you will see a repo old style under the dash evaporator.

                        (just not the round vent style)