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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know Vintage Air is the recommended AC system for our trifives. But at $1200 it is pretty steep (especially for a budget build). For those of us that live in HOT climates though, it's almost a requirement. My plans are to get the car running/functional then adding AC later when I can save enough $$.

Has anyone pulled an AC system from a later model car and made it work for them?? Just seems you could save a TON of $$ by going the "pick your part" route.

My 57 will be a Resto-Mod with bucket seats and a console. So running controls and even vents to the center console (and also possible adding a 3"-4" piece along the bottom of the dash for vents) shouldn't be an issue.

Basically I would like a functional AC system (heat and defrost would be nice, but isn't a deal breaker as I don't anticipate driving this much in the cooler months).

:scared0016: OK guys, let me have it. lol
 

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Just one thought on the heat/defrost portion. Doesn`t matter if you don`t drive it in the cold. If you get caught in the rain you`ll be wishing you had the defrost for sure. Figured that out on my first outing.
Terry
 

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One of the problems is that an A/C system from a modern car is going to be well integrated into the donor vehicle electronics.
Its very likely there is an ECM that controls the A/C system, this will sit on a network inside the car (CANBUS) that allows the ECM to be fed with information from other ECMs (e.g. engine rpm ). If you remove this from the car it just isn't going to work because it will be expecting to "see" the other ECMs and the data.

On slightly older vehicles you may find the engine ECM does some of the management for the A/C, so thats going to be hard work too.

Also I don't think you'll find many OEM evaporators that are that small - there is lots of space behind the dashes in modern cars, typically they incorporate the fresh air feed, various flaps and so on - typical example, see this auction for a ford focus unit - doubt if it would go under the dash http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/NIB-...tegoryZ33547QQitemZ360301083415#ht_3786wt_939

Vintage Air and their competitors have products specifically designed to retro fit.

I'm not saying that it would be impossible to do a junkyard swap, but you may find it more complicated than you first imagined.
 

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i saw a second gen NOVA A/C "suitcase" used in a '56 (?) NOMAD at a superchevy show about 15 years ago. it looked like it fit pretty well. i know nothing more.
 

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One of the problems is that an A/C system from a modern car is going to be well integrated into the donor vehicle electronics.
Its very likely there is an ECM that controls the A/C system, this will sit on a network inside the car (CANBUS) that allows the ECM to be fed with information from other ECMs (e.g. engine rpm ). If you remove this from the car it just isn't going to work because it will be expecting to "see" the other ECMs and the data.

On slightly older vehicles you may find the engine ECM does some of the management for the A/C, so thats going to be hard work too.
Yes, but if the ECM just controls the A/C, you can eliminate those controls and make the system work independently. The A/C doesn't have it's own computer....all it takes is signals from elsewhere. I don't think this part is very difficult to do.

Also I don't think you'll find many OEM evaporators that are that small - there is lots of space behind the dashes in modern cars, typically they incorporate the fresh air feed, various flaps and so on - typical example, see this auction for a ford focus unit - doubt if it would go under the dash .
I'm not saying that it would be impossible to do a junkyard swap, but you may find it more complicated than you first imagined.
It would take some digging, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone could find an evaporator that would be a close fit. OTOH, the VA evaporator is only around $600 and it is made to fit. You can buy it separately from the rest of the system...that's what I did. Then I bought the compressor and the other parts individually.
 

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You know, Hafrod has a thought there. The big truck units are not too far off from the "universal" (not underdash) systems that VA and their competitors sell.

Another thing you could do with a truck unit, which is probably just a flat box with no contours - is to install it in the trunk behind the seat. Then build a full length console and run the ducts through it. Some of the 50s a/c units were done that way, sans the console.

To me, one of the deals on adapting a unit from another car is how would you know or find out what donor unit has a chance of fitting and working better than another choice? How many of these things has any of us seen stripped from the car? Or had a chance to put a tape measure on even if we didn't do it? You could easily ruin the reward just doing the research. And the wrong choice could be a big bust.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hmmm, I'll ask my Dad. He drives truck for a living, so he may have some ideas of where/what would work.

I may end up going with the Southern Rods kit when the time comes. It's $300-400 cheaper than the Vintage Air system. Just seems really painful to pay $1200+ for air and heat.

I was hoping others had already retrofitted AC systems and could recommend some close fitting donor cars.
 
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