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  #1  
Old 05-10-2004, 11:01 AM
tarps3 tarps3 is offline
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Default '58 air conditioning question

I went to a car show this weekend and saw something unusual on a '58 TBird.

I've seen the rectangular air conditioning vents located just above the radio on other squarebirds equipped with factory air, but this one was very different.

The radio, and vent surround located above it, were of one BIG piece. However, the vent surround looked really different. It had 3 round vents with vanes in them (located horizonatlly across the face) - they were fully adjustable in any direction and about 1.5 inches in diameter. Above them, there were the control knobs (essentially located at the top of the dash) which controlled the fan and air volume. There was a name plate between the knobs which said "Frigidaire" I think.

Then, on the SIDES of the dash pods (one above and to the right of the clock and the other on the corresponding location above the glove box) were 2 more round vents directing air toward the occupants. These were actually installed in the "sides" of the padded instrument pods and were identical to the other vents.

I've never seen anything like it. The material and surrounding metal plate were identical to the dash and glovebox door (grooved metal) and the piece looked to be a factory or a dealer installed item. The thing looked like it had been there since the car was new and the amount of aging looked consistant with the rest of the interior (original untouched).

Did Ford contract with outside manufacturers (i.e. Frigidaire) to provide an AC system for the '58 Birds? It certainly looked like it. And the owner, who was around 75 years old, said the car always had it and he's had the car for about 25 years or so.

Like I said, I've never seen a setup like this one and it looked really, really neat!

Any insights from '58 Bird Owners??

Casey
'60 hardtop
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Old 05-10-2004, 12:39 PM
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Alexander Alexander is offline
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Default RE: '58 air conditioning question

Did you take pictures of the vents, compressor and the evaporator? I would love to see them.

I have not seen a unit like this. Originally the A/C vent and radio bezel were one piece on the prototype 1958 Thunderbirds. There were never round vents in or on the side of the dash, as far as I know.

I believe that Frigidaire was a division of GM at the time.

There were aftermarket A/C units for the Squarebird. I have some photos of trunk intalled units with the vents in the package tray.

Alexander
1959 Hardtop
1960 Golde Top
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Old 05-10-2004, 01:04 PM
tarps3 tarps3 is offline
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Default RE: '58 air conditioning question

unfortunately, I didn't have a camera on me at the show. I usually do.

The underhood setup looked identical to other squarebird AC setups I've seen with the compressor, air plenum, etc. correctly installed.

The bezel that I saw on the dash housed the radio perfectly and had those 3 round vents right above the radio dial (about 3" up). The bezel was shaped to fit in between the 2 padded dash "pods". it had slightly curved sides and wrapped up on to the top of the dash where the knobs stuck almost straight up.

Like I said, it was the darndest thing. It looked like it came that way.

Perhaps someone retrofitted a Frigidaire system to it way back when, but if they did, they did one heckuva job!
That's what threw me, it didn't match what I know it should look like, but it fit perfectly and looked like it was orginal to the car.

The padded dash was older and the side vents in it had little trim rings and everything.

The round vents were finished in chrome and looked like they matched the instrument housings (there were 3 just like the instrument cluster in miniature).

Man I wish I had a picture of it. It really did look neat.
Maybe I can track down the guy and get a couple of pics of it for everyone to see - I think he's a local person.

Casey
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Old 05-11-2004, 08:37 PM
Rockin Kev Rockin Kev is offline
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Default RE: '58 air conditioning question

Alex
Pictures of this AC System can be seen in the V.T.C.I.CONCOURS RULE BOOK FOR SQUAREBIRD.
It is said to be non factory but aftermarket.
Kev
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  #5  
Old 05-13-2004, 08:59 AM
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Default RE: '58 air conditioning question

I have looked up that picture. It is similar to what Casey described, except that the A/C and radio bezel are not one piece.

Kev, you have good memory.

Alexander
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Old 05-13-2004, 10:23 AM
tarps3 tarps3 is offline
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Default RE: '58 air conditioning question

Alexander,

Can you post a picture of the setup from the book?

I'd like to see it again.
I could have been wrong about the bezel being one piece.
It might have had a seam between the radio part and the A/C part.

Was it in fact made by Frigidaire or was it some other after-market unit? Like I said, the nameplate was very worn.

thanks,
Casey
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Old 05-13-2004, 09:50 PM
Travlin Travlin is offline
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Default RE: '58 air conditioning question

Sounds like aftermarket to me.
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Old 05-19-2004, 04:56 PM
tmjsong1aolcom tmjsong1aolcom is offline
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Default RE: '58 air conditioning question

Without pics it is hard to render and opinion but sure sounds like an aftermarket set up to me

Fuz
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Old 06-03-2004, 11:54 PM
lwaldrop42 lwaldrop42 is offline
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Default RE: '58 air conditioning question

My 60 has the orig. factory air and the orig. decal under the hood says FRIGKING located at that time in Dallas, Texas on Harry Hines Street. I'll double check that.
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