Clas­sic Cool

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle Maniac -

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.

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