Last summer’s sizzling weather makes you wonder how people coped in the days before auto air-conditioning. It wasn’t too long ago that no Australian cars had air-con fitted as standard equipment.
The Holden Heritage book notes that the 1962 EJ series was the first to have a heater fitted as standard. Ford was promoting its optional heater/ demister in 1963. Yet it wasn’t until the 1971 HQ series that ‘flowthrough ventilation’ was introduced as an option by Holden. The first mention of air-con as standard is on the 1976 Monaro LE series.
Before then you had to invest in one of the aftermarket units, like the one manufactured in Sydney by Smiths. If you couldn’t afford one, the alternative was to stick a small battery-powered fan on the dash. These had about as much impact as an ice cube in a sauna.
Those aftermarket air-con units weren’t compact, nor cheap. In 1966 the Smith’s unit cost $325 – plus installation – at a time when a new HR Holden cost $2167. These were luxury items.
If you’re lucky enough to have an early-model Monaro, Falcon or Valiant and you want to keep it absolutely authentic, this is what you’ll need to squeeze in under the dash. Or do as most drivers did and simply wind down the windows.