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pontiac1953

1954 pontiac vs 1954 nash

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hi, i am trying to discover if accepted history is correct or incorrect. on the subject of modern, up front, in dash, factory air conditioning. several books and web sites have stated that the 1954 nash was first to offer the in dash factory air conditioning, in other automotive history books, the 1954 pontiac is listed as having the industry's first in dash air conditioning, i have contacted members of the nash car club, one member, who owns a 1954 air conditioned nash says he doesn't know if the option came out early or late in the 1954 model year. another member was asking "what does it matter today, what happened 55 years ago", i replied, "that it was important to see that history was told correctly". i am charles leonard coker, 1953 pontiac tech advisor for the pontiac oakland club international, and have been for 25 years now, i have also been in the past, club historian for a period of 8 years. i have owned my 1953 pontiac chieftain custom catalina for 36 years, i have studied pontiac history, especially the years of 1953 - 1954, for the last 36 years as well. i have had conversations with the GM harrison division back in 1996, and they reported to me, when then first 10 1954 pontiac factory air conditioning systems were delivered to pontiac in december of 1953, and before the end of the 1954 pontiac model year, another 6,314 systems were built and delivered. so i hope someone in this part of the aaca can shed some light as to when nash's system was introduced. i have seen both the nash, and the pontiac system. i can say that they both used the same type compressor, the nash installation has been reported to me as having been done in poor quality of workmanship, and the nash weather eye put the evaporator between the heater core and the passenger compartment, so that in cold weather, the nash heater had to warm up the evaporator core as well. not so in the 1954 pontiac installation, as the pontiac evaporator assembly was at the rear of the right inner fender, and the pontiac heater core was under the front seat. in my 1953 custom catalina, i am installing the 1954 pontiac ac system. thank you for reading this, and i hope someone has facts as to tell when nash introduced the ac system, charles coker.

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Does anyone have photographs of 1954 Pontiacs with factory air conditioning. I have a copy of a 1954 Pontiac a/c ad from the Early Times chapter, but was still wanting to see a 54 Pontiacs so equipped. Also, any ideas on how many have survived? Also, any records on ratio of installation in Star Chiefs vs Chieftains, that is, if anyone opted for this in a Chieftain?

Early auto air conditioning systems fascinate me....

Bill Sapp

Hamlet, NC

Edited by Mr Bill (see edit history)

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There may be some confusion of words here. Nash had the first "air conditioning" in 1938 but it was not air conditioning as we know it. It was the first ventilating heating and defrosting system fully integrated into the dash in the modern manner. Other cars still had the old fashioned box heater under the dash.

The modern type air conditioner with cooling was first made in 2 units, part in the trunk and part in the engine compartment with controls on the instrument panel. Nash was the first to put the whole works under the hood and in the dash like today's cars. This was in 1954 according to some internet sources.It would be nice to hear from someone who knows for sure.

The 2 part systems had clear plastic pipes coming up through the rear package deck. This is a sure tipoff to the evaporator unit in the trunk.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)

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Packard had the first "air conditioning" unit in a car, meaning that it was a referigeration system that cooled the passenger compartment, this was in 1939. As Rusty pointed out, the evaporator was located in the trunk/rear of the car, in the case of the Packard and the Cadillac that followed for 1941 there was a simple rectangular outlet vent. The clear plastic tube types appeared in the 1953-54 units (depending on manufacturer).

This is interesting, I did not know who first integrated the AC into the instrument panel (the dash board is that angled portion of the floorboards between the flat part of the floor and the verticle firewall, as in "Curved DASH Oldsmobile").

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I know the difference between an instrument panel, a dashboard and a firewall.

They all had controls on the instrument panel. Nash was the first to build the whole works into the dash and firewall area when others still put the evaporator unit in the trunk. Now Pontiac1953 has some information that Pontiac did the same thing in late 53 for the 54 models and is trying to track down the evidence.

This is an interesting claim and shouldn't be too hard to prove using service manuals, advertisements and surviving cars. The question seems to be exactly what date each car came out, if it was a neck and neck race.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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I am aware of Nash's Weather Eye system back in the late 30's-40's and realize this system did not include provisions for refrigerating air. I am also aware of Packard's system refrigerating air of about 1940 as well as Cadillac's attempt in 41. I also have the issue from the WPC Club that showcases air conditioning (refrigeration) in early 40's Imperials, Chryslers and Desotos. I am also very familiar with the GM Frigidaire units of 1953 forward found in Cadillacs, the senior Buicks and Oldsmobiles. I have also seen more 1954 and up Nash air conditioning units than I care to mention. However, I am interested in seeing photos of 1954 Pontiacs that exist today (if any) with factory air conditioning. Are there any of such beasts that still exist today. And does anyone have an idea to the exact number installed in all 54 8 cylinder Pontiacs and any ratio in Star Chiefs vs Chieftains

Edited by Mr Bill (see edit history)

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hi, i have several emailed pictures of 1954 pontiacs with the factory air, and they all are starchiefs. gm's harrison division built for pontiac 7,026 complete systems, at least half that number were installed in 54 pontiacs having been ordered built with factory air. i have another post here titled "when did nash do it", charles coker, 1953 pontiac tech advisor.

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Guest

Weather-eye was a heat/vent system.

First car with actual refrigeration system is 1939 Packhard.

Cadillac followed in 41, and after WW2 advertised a new feature called the air conditioning control-located on the rear seatback shelf to turn the A/C off. The compressor still ran all the time though.

Harrison division of GM designed the first effecient A/C unit with all components including a compressor with a magnetic operated clutch, were located in the engine compartment sans controls and ducting under the dash for Pontiac division for 1954. This unit was a option on ALL 54 Pontiac's for eight cylinder engines only and cost $594.00

Nash also brought out a compact system in 54 called All Season A/C and was available in Ramblers.

My guess is that Pontiac division was given credit for the first all under hood system because the AMC merger ( Hudson/Nash) occurence happens on April 22, 1954 with complete take-over May 1,1954

Pontiac begins production of 54 models on Dec 1, 1953

Don

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here is my 1953 pontiac chieftain custom catalina's dash, you see the 1954 pontiac air conditioning outlets and controls that i have installed.

53 2537sd with factory ac 002.JPG

53 2537sd with factory ac 003.JPG

53 2537sd with factory ac 010.JPG

53 2537sd with factory ac 009.JPG

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this is a very rare 1954 pontiac air conditioning operating pamplet that anyone buying a new 1954 pontiac with a/c would have received or found in the glovebox. this is the only one that i have ever seen, it is in my collection now.

1954 pontiac air cond operating instructions 001.JPG

1954 pontiac air cond operating instructions 002.JPG

1954 pontiac air cond operating instructions 003.JPG

1954 pontiac air cond operating instructions 004.JPG

1954 pontiac air cond operating instructions 007.JPG

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On 11/6/2009 at 1:00 PM, Mr Bill said:

Does anyone have photographs of 1954 Pontiacs with factory air conditioning. I have a copy of a 1954 Pontiac a/c ad from the Early Times chapter, but was still wanting to see a 54 Pontiacs so equipped. Also, any ideas on how many have survived? Also, any records on ratio of installation in Star Chiefs vs Chieftains, that is, if anyone opted for this in a Chieftain?

Early auto air conditioning systems fascinate me....

Bill Sapp

Hamlet, NC

the list i have of surviving 1954 pontiac factory air conditioning equipped pontiacs has reach the total of 24,   2 are transplanted into 1953 pontiacs, 22 are 1954 pontiacs.

 

charles l. coker

1953 pontiac tech advisor

tech advisor coordinator

pontiac oakland club int'l.

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