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History of the Automobile A/C

The history of A/C for our cars is a very interesting one. Can you imagine not having A/C as option? Me either!

The First Patent

The first patent for a production automobile was issued In 1886. This is what the vehicle looked like. As you can see it has no windshield, roof, doors or windows. Mother Nature was their air conditioning!

The 20’s, 30’s and 40’s

By 1921, most cars were enclosed and a small electric fan could be added. These fans circulated the air, but did not cool the air. This was a welcomed addition to many vehicles.

In 1930, the “car cooler” became available. It used the evaporation of water to cool the air inside cars. This cooler air was blown in through the open passenger side window. The down-side was that it would only work in areas with very low humidity! However; people were very appreciative of this invention.

The 1940 Packard was the first car to offer factory-installed air-conditioning. The cooling system was located in the trunk. Drivers had to manually install and uninstall a drive belt to turn the A/C on or off. This option was very costly at $274 with an average family income of $1368. The cost, plus the start of WWII, this vehicle option was short-lived.

Eight years after the end of WWII the rear-installed A/C was offered again. The A/C systems were much like the ones used in the Packard.

The 50’s Through Today

In 1954, Pontiac and Nash became the first companies to install A/C in the front of the vehicles. Nash combined the A/C and heater into one in-dash system setting the standard for what we use today.

More than half of all new cars sold were equipped with A/C by 1969. For those cars without factory installed A/C, under-dash units were popular. Today more than 99% of all new cars are air-conditioned. Yeah!

Due to growing concerns over depleting the ozone layer, the R-12 refrigerant was replaced by the R134a refrigerant by 1996.

I know using my car’s A/C will reduce my gas mileage by 3-mpg or less, but I will continue to choose staying cool while on the road. It’s worth every penny to me!

#airconditioninghistory #carcooler #AC

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