To A/C or not to A/C??

psychrunner

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1972 csi with no original A/C, in the process of restoration. I can't decide whether to install A/C or not in this car that never had it to begin with. If I did, it would be an aftermarket variety designed for installation into vintage cars and their special applications. Cost would be around $3,000 to $4,000 as it sounds like it is a rather labor intensive process (cost of A/C parts "only about $1,000). I know alot of the decsion is based on my use (daily or not), which presently I have not determined. Probably will end up driving once or twice a week. Wondering what any of you would do? and the affects of the A/C (whether turned on or not) on performance, etc.
Thanks
Randy
 

Malc

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The cheaper option is to open the windows :lol:
On a more serious note if you are only going to use the car once or twice a week I really don't think it's worth the cost.
A/c will sap power from the engine, it needs energy to work, however you probably won't notice that too much in "normal" driving. You will need to upgrade your cooling system and probably your altenator to cope with the extra loads, a/c radiator electric etc
There's a lot of plumbing involved so that has to be carefully thought out. Remember a/c was in some respects an "after thought" when they were originally built so even the factory fitted variety looks abit "heath Robinson"
Malc
 

TILLA

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I agree with Malc, I removed an aftermaket AC from my CSi and between the compressor, brackets, lines, condenser, evaporator, etc. there was a lot of weight removed - that you would have to add - and with the power drain from the engine to operate would be a negative for me, Unless I lived in Florida or Houston I can live without it.
 

Shawn

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I think that if you can afford the equipment it is well worth it to install AC in your coupe. Coupes are ovens, can you say "broil". You can only get down the road about 5 miles on a summer day before the back of your shirt is glued to the seat! Not so nice for the ladies as well.

My car came with AC installed originally but was unoperable for years. I finally ponied up and installed a new Sanden compressor, new hoses, evaporator, etc. Price was a about $1,700 installed. This was one of the best upgrades I have performed. Your install will be a bit more of a challenge (and a few more $$$) due to the fact that you will need to deal with finding a condensor and will have more electrical considerations.

I give you a thunbs up for this upgrade UNLESS you live in a cool part of Virginia but all the areas I have been in Virginia needed a little AC.

Thanks,

Shawn
 

psychrunner

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Thanks

I do reside in a very humid area of the state (VA) - close to Va. Beach. I really wish I could do with out the A/C, but have heard (as stated by Shawn) coupes are quite warm because of all the glass. Am concerned re: the comment about changing the electical system and alternator. Will this really be necesary? and if so, what type of alternator needs to be installed?
Thanks
Randy
 

TILLA

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Upgrading the alternator is easy and a good choice, the origional has an external mechanical regulator located by the battery, the newer alternators have an internal transistorized regulator. You can get one from an early 5 or 6, or a reman Bosch #AL41X which is 65 amps. Wiring is simple, there are several postings about this swap already.
 

kealaiki

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AC

I also think AC is a worthwhile investment in Coupes especially in hot and humid locales. Most of the time you can arrive at your destination not resembling a puddle.

The original Behr system in my '75 Euro E9, however, made more noise than cold air. The PO had converted it to R134, which in this car and IMO, was worthless. I installed a Sanden compressor (there are apparently 2 schools of thought about the wisdom of that approach) and put it back to R12. It's "just OK". Be prepared to have the fan run on high or medium all the time when temperatures are 85+ and to have the airflow vents directed right on your face or upper torso. It also helps if your rubber weather seals are in decent condition.

I don't think BMW AC came into its own until the early 90's. The unit in my '85 Euro E24 is slightly better than the E9's. In my wife's E60 and her previous E39 - world-class.
 

schnell540

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you can have mine

Besides the cost, you have think of the effectiveness -- which is generally pretty poor -- of A/C systems in these old cars. Even a modern system has to retrofit and use the scrwany vents available.

Personally, I think A/C may be necessary on a daily driver, but not a restored coupe. In fact, my CSL has an aftermarket A/C put in at the dealer back in the day and it was not taken out when the PO restored it. I can't wait to remove it. Weight, ugliness, futility. That's what it brings to my car, IMHO.
 

Shawn

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I will have to disagree with a few of the posts noting poor cooling effectiveness, chunkiness, etc.

I installed a Sanden pump (which has virtually no draw on the engine load—AND I HAD AN AUTOMATIC!!), new lines, new evaporator, and switched to R-134a.

Albeit there are only 2 vents that blow air, they are quite cold and more than sufficient for the driver and passenger. Trust me when you are baking you will appreciate the air!

I still feel that this is a necessary upgrade and well worth the money spent in the long run.
 

Bill Riblett

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All the do-it replies are from those who live in warm places and the thumbs downs from those who live in cool places!

It's hot and humid here in the Washington, DC area and as I've gotten older, my tolerance for those conditions has decreased. Another vote for A/C here and for the Sanden, etc compressor upgrade.
 

Misterchinn

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hahaha another cool climate coupe here! But I've thought about it too, to make the trips to Napa and Sacramento more bearable.

Does $1700 seem about what it would cost for the Sanden upgrade for an existing unit? What about for a car with out an existing unit (as the original post asked)?

Thanks for the input.
 

Antar

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A/C is a not a luxury on the East Coast

I agree with Bill on this one. My coupe and I are originally from Northern California. I purchased my coupe from an there some 16 years ago. For the first 8 years, I did not care that the A/C did not work.... that was until I brought my car here to the DC Area. Easily over 100 and my heat value from the engine was always open, so pick your discomfort hot floor heat or hot air from defrost on your upper body. I think a friend of my actually said, after riding in my car that he thought I had Lucifer was controlling my tempeture in the car.-LOL

Anyway, I broke down and spent the money to revive my non working A/C working upgraded the compressor to Sanden, new hoses, evaporator, upgraded the alternator etc. Now it is actually nice to drive during the summer. I am still contemplating lightly tenting my windows to help keep it cool.
 

TILLA

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Seems like a lot of work, why not go with a generic unit?

Coupeac.jpg
 

Misterchinn

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Actually, based on the weather in that pic, I think that's a dehumidifier.

Too funny Mark! I should not be laughing that hard during the work day!!!! :lol: :lol: :lol:
 

jmackro

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to A/C or not to A/C

My coupe is a US spec car, so it had an A/C system factory installed. Of course, it didn't work when I got the car 18 years ago. And, I lived with it up until about 4 years ago (dumb!), because the lore was that E9 A/C wasn't very effective even when working. HA!

Finally I asked my mechanic (Tim Aguiniaga of EuroTech in Mission Viejo, Ca.) if he could fix the A/C. I suggested that of course, he would need to replace the old German compressor with a new Asian rotary one. Tim said "no", the reciprocating compressors work just fine. And, he proved it by getting the orinal A/C to really cool the car effectively.

All of the window area and the windshield rake of a CS creates a huge solar heating component. My car has a sunroof - initially I figured that would cool down the interior - Wrong! - opening the S/R just adds to the solar heating. A/C is really essential if you are going to drive one comfortably on a sunny day.
 

x_atlas0

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I recently snagged the complete cabin AC system (already have the rest of the engine bay bits from an earlier aftermarket unit) with the intent of upgrading and installing it eventually. I figured I'd have to do a complete overhaul by doing things like using a blower motor from a different (later) car, a Sanden compressor, slightly updating the controls, and uing a more effective AC core.

Since I live in Atlanta, I figured I'd have to do all this since everybody has told me old car AC systems were about as effective as an asthmatic mouse blowing through a sponge.
 

adammusavvir

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This may be too old to respond. I am thinking to install A/C unit in my non-A/C 1972 BMW 2800cs. How did it end up costing you to have installed if you had someone to install it? The cost would be the biggest factor for my decision.
 

teahead

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I'd tint the windows first. But ya, being in CA with lots of triple digit days, I totally understand.

Parts are super scarce if you want the OEM look. Start your search now for things like console sides, radio faceplates, evaporators (some member here used a Lexus one I think? Maybe LandRover? It's in the FAQ).

YOu can make your own AC lines (I like the reduced sized ones), and you can get your own Sanden compressor/brackets, drier, and parallel flow condensors.
 
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adammusavvir

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I have considered not to install but I think the drive would be much more enjoyable if I had the A/C blowing ice cold.
To be honest, I haven't even think about the radio faceplate or console sides at all! I definitely plan to keep OEM look. I wish there is a Kit to buy it all at once. That would be lovely. I appreciate the guidance and your input. @teahead
 

HB Chris

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There are no kits unfortunately, you need the A/C console side panels, face plate and the evaporator/fan assembly and the distribution housing above it. I have seen aftermarket installed units in the glove box and they are no better, they also weep condensation into the glove box.
 
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