The Tube: Early Car Air Con.

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By Mark Weisseg

This early 50’s Chevrolet has styling cues that are cool and overall the car was a winner by most standards.

But what is this small round tube hanging off the right passenger door? When I was much younger I thought the same thing. Is it a siren, a whistle, a bug collector, what??? Well, we all know by now it was a attempt at air conditioning. The joke for example regarding my Model A is that I have 230 air conditioning. Meaning of course two windows down at 30 mph. It does not work well and when you stop you still sweat like a racehorse.

So, attempts were made to find a better solution and this was one of them. It barely worked and honestly did not last long. It’s nothing to laugh at even though it looks silly and was ineffective. What it did do was get people thinking and designing a new and better mousetrap per se.

Today, we do not think twice about A/C in our cars. Yes, it was R12 refrigerant and has changed to R134a and will change again at some point. We love cranking up the A/C to provide ourselves with a comfortable drive. Some classic cars have A/C and some do not. You see having this luxury adds a lot of components and weight to the car. And when the vents are pushing out cold air your horsepower can decrease as much as 15 hp. So, sure if you live in Orlando Florida where the heat and humidity are a constant issue having air conditioning is the answer. Only one of my classics has air conditioning and it makes for a better cruise. Sitting in my old truck on a Hot afternoon is not fun.

My point is just this. The early forms of anything can be bulky and a bit odd but it gives the designers something to work with. In the case of air conditioning today the case is resolved. I tip my hat to those who worked so hard so many years ago that today we can enjoy a car that cools us down on those sticky, muggy days.

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