View Full Version : 63 A/C Choices & Substitutes

Bill A
12-10-2016, 11:28 AM
Is there a suitable A/C dash substitute from another Thunderbird for a 63 convertible? I have a nice 63 convertible that I'm interested in but it has no A/C. Don't think there is an after market that will look good or even made. Will other year Tbirds A/C dash fit? The more options I have the more likely it will be to find what I want. Installation will be bad enough! :)


Bill A

215-886-five three eight six

12-10-2016, 11:45 AM
There were plenty of 61-3 Thunderbirds that came with factory air. If you want it to look factory contact the vendors that sell used parts like Bob's Bird House, the Birds Nest or Pat Wilson Thunderbirds and see if they have the original dash parts.


Joe Johnston
12-10-2016, 12:03 PM
Be aware of the differences in overall width and the fit to the door panels on the 63's as being different than the 61 and 62 years. I don't know the build date of the changes but thinking late 62. Choosing the wrong replacement dash and pad may require changing the door panels as well.

12-10-2016, 04:28 PM
Another option is to install a Classic Auto Air aftermarket "Perfect Fit" AC system on your '63 Bulletbird. CAA makes great aftermarket AC systems for 1955-1966 Tbirds. A number of people on here run their systems and they are designed and engineered to work on these Tbirds. And you get a modern AC system instead of having to run R-12. Here is the link to their website. Slide down and find the 1961-1963 links.


Bill A
12-16-2016, 09:43 AM
Thanks guys for the pointers. I have an after market system in my 59 Skyliner and I have the complete original setup on the shelf! I went after market for the reasons you pointed out. The Skyliner originally used an under dash unit so the new one does not look out of place. Don't want to go after market to this convertible as it is a #1 car.

Thanks for the caution on possible problems with earlier Tbird consoles! That's just what I want to avoid if I buy original. Are all 63's A/C consoles the same? Hardtops A/C consoles fit convertible?

Thanks to all!

Bill A

12-16-2016, 10:09 AM
Hi Bill, you probably received my email. I see going aftermarket AC is out on this Tbird. I just talked with the Bird House in Delaware regarding the availability of a complete OEM AC system for a '63 Bulletbird. He just told me that you are not going to find one. He said even if you did find a '63 Bulletbird parts car with AC to take it from, their experience has been that in the past when they did find one, and did the transfer of that AC system from a Tbird donor car to another Tbird, they often do not work due to age and wear and tear. You have the problem of putting a 50 something year old AC unit into a car, running R-12, instead of R-134a. If you have it converted that is going to cost you additionally to do so. Much of those OEM components will require being replaced, is my understanding. His suggestion was the same as mine, get an aftermarket CAA "Perfect Fit" and be done with it.

Since you want to keep it original, the only other suggestion I have is to look for a '63 Bulletbird that DOES have a working OEM AC system in it already and buy it. If you decide to do that, I can help you find one in your part of the country. I do this a lot for people who join the Forum looking to buy a Tbird. I need to know the year, ('63 convertible I gather), the exterior/interior color desired, and if it has all the power controls or not. Some people prefer not to have power windows, seats, etc., because those components are what often gives you a lot of problems in getting or keeping them working..

One thing I would suggest regarding buying this or any classic car or Tbird is this. If it is close to you for you to inspect, get it up on a lift before you buy it and look for all indications of rust, rockers, panels, floor panels, especially the right side, engine and tranny leaks. It may look like it is in first class condition, but you won't know that for sure til you can get it on a lift. In the Technical Resource Library, you will find a Vehicle Inspection Check List put together by our members. It is down at the bottom of the TRL. Print it out, take it with you to inspect that Tbird and run that check list against it to see what problems you can find with that Tbird...

As for the dash problems, hopefully John Pizzi ~ jopizz will come along and respond to your questions about that situation. He knows these Tbirds as well as any on the planet.

12-16-2016, 11:16 AM
The consoles are the same A/C or no A/C. The only difference is the A/C unit. Once you have the parts all you have to do is cut a hole in your existing dash and install the grill/control unit to make it look original. Of course you have to install all the parts behind the dash also.


12-16-2016, 01:16 PM
Call up Vintage Air and see what they can do for you using an OEM compressor modified for 134a and one of their GenIV evaporator units. They have kits to work with your heat only slider controls (or OEM AC controls if you can find them).

This would provide you with modern performance under the dash where it counts, such as dehumidification of the defrost circuit, and microprocessor controlled, and infinite adjustment between floor and panel, or floor and defrost.