How to Install Vintage Air A/C into a Vintage Corvette
I wanted to install air conditioning in my 1967 big block Corvette coupe but, since this is a numbers-matching car, I didn't want to cannibalize the interior or engine compartment to do it. Vintage Air had the solution I was looking for: a custom-made air conditioning system that was very close in appearance and fit to the original GM factory air that was offered as an option in 1967. I particularly liked the fact that it was a "non-invasive" system that could be uninstalled if some future owner of this car wanted to put it back to its original condition (of course, I'm keeping all of the original parts for this eventuality). Vintage Air has a network of dealers nationwide who will install their A/C systems for you, and this is probably the best way to go if you're not a skilled mechanic. As with most other Corvette projects, the working quarters are quite cramped and often difficult to access. For that reason, lots of patience, sweat and persistence are essential ingredients of an installation like this one. Now that the caveats are out of the way, here's how to proceed.
These are the interior components of Vintage Air's air conditioning system for Mid-Year Corvettes (the company also makes direct-fit systems for C1s and C3s). New side console ducts are provided, along with a new defroster duct; the under-dash ducts look and operate like factory originals. All components are clearly labeled and the instructions are clear and well illustrated. The only items not supplied with the kit are replacement heater hoses, the compressor belt and the 134a refrigerant.
The glove box is removed as the first installation step. Save the Philips screws, since they'll be required for re-securing the glove box at the end of the installation.
The two console side-panel vent ducts are the next items to be removed. It isn't necessary to remove the shifter console trim, since the side-panels can be lifted out after removing the Philips screws that retain them.
The side-panel vent knobs are removed by loosening the set screw, and then removing the cable-retaining nut allows the control cable to be freed from each panel.
The speed nuts that secure the heater box cover in the engine compartment are removed next. A stiff-bladed putty knife is useful for gently prying the heater box cover from the firewall, since factory caulking was also used for moisture-sealing purposes.