|First I believe that I should start with a short history of air in
the Porsche car.
To begin with, way back about 1962 or so there were a
couple of units made for the 356. One being 'Arctic Kar', another was 'Delanair' a company
out of Texas.
This Delanair was the one that was designated as 'Factory' air back then. It was
called 'Porschair' and was described in a handsome little brochure. The 'Evaporator' part
of the ac was installed in the front trunk, in what could best be described as a suit
case. It drew air from behind the glove box and returned it through two round eyeballs on
either side of the radio with the controls being under the radio. The compressor was a 6
cu. in. York mounted behind and facing the engine. It had three condensers, one in the
engine grill and one under each of the front fenders behind the little brake vent holes,
these were connected by a series of hoses that seemed to run all over the place. The unit
was largely unchanged through the '65 model year. But with only 6 volts to move the air,
these units were mostly ineffective.
The Arctic Kar ac had a similar comp. mount but the condenser was mounted behind
the spare tire with a fan to cool it. Not nearly as well made as the Delanair it didn't
last very long, thank goodness !
It was a big help to the car in '65 when 12 volts became available, now all the
motors would run faster and take less amperage, causing less havoc on the generator. The
only problem was, all the '65's didn't get 12 volts.
When the 911 and 912 was introduced Delanair was still the biggest choice by the
dealers to be installed and could almost be considered Factory A/C since the dealer bought
the unit directly from the Porsche Warehouse and all parts for the ac were sold through
the parts department. The ac was a slim looking affair that mount under the dash with the
blower sticking through the floor of the trunk. It had 5 or 6 louvers and the two switches
were on the far left of these. It utilized a small black Italian made compressor by
Tecumseh that was only 5 cu, in. displacement. Real small and only one cylinder, so it was
kind of lumpy to put it kindly. This ac had one condenser mounted over the engine and
another standing up in the left front fender. Actually a good location for this condenser
but in 1969 the battery moved out into the way of the air so this condenser had to move.
Nearly 20 years later it would return to this same spot.
In 1968 Delanair changed to a belt they called 'Polyflex' . It was different in
several ways : The composition of the belt went from the normal rubber and cord to a
plastic mix. The angle of the wall of the belt was changed from 37 degrees to 60 degrees,
making for a smaller but flatter belt. This belt was only successful if it was kept
bowstring tight, once it got a little bit loose it would slip, get hot and MELT !! It was
a couple of tough years before they finally changed back to a fabric composition but they
retained that same 60 degree angle.
Along about 1966 or 67 a company named Coolaire from Florida introduced an ac for
the Porsche, both the 911 and 912. The 912 was fitted with a Giant condenser over the
engine and it took up most all the deck lid. It weighed about 20 lbs., so the first thing
that happened was the hood shock gave out !!
The 911 couldn't take the same size condenser because the engine came so much
closer to the lid, so a smaller one was used as large as the air grille and this was the
only one on the car. But since the 911 would draw so much more air than the 912 the
problem of too little condenser seemed to take of itself.
The Evaporator, mounted under the dash, was in several parts. The one larger part
in the center had the switches and two louvers, then an eyeball louver mounted on the far
left and right of the dash, the instructions saying to drill on through the glove box
door!! Coolaire figured that the flex hose coming through the glove box would simply
accordion as the door opened and closed.
The compressor was also a 6 cu. in. York and it was mounted with the head of the
comp. towards the center of the engine with the hoses passing between the carbs or
injectors. The bracket attached to four 6mm bolts at the chain cover and a support went
from the compressor down to the cam cover to special longer studs. There were two idler
pulleys one on an eccentric to adjust the belt.
Sometime before the launch of the 'new' longer wheelbase model, the company known
as 'Delanair' was swallowed up by Volkswagen and it now became Volkswagen Products Corp.
or V.P.C. for short and their logo said 'CCCCOOL.'
This logo is often confused with Coolaire but is not the same.
With the new body style in 1969 the ac's had to change too. For the first time the
cavity that was designed for the gasoline heater ( seldom used, at least in the southwest
) was utilized for the Evaporator. The Plenum under the dash was used simply to carry the
cold air to the dash louvers.
There were now three major ac's available for the Porsche because in '69 the
Factory began using an ac from Germany as TRUE Factory AIR. The company was (is) Behr.
They (Behr) sort of copied the best of what was available at the time and incorporated it
all into one unit. They still used the one cylinder Tecumseh compressor and after a year
or so cleaned up the mounting brackets to fit better. Behr used only a single Condenser
over the engine, which was enough as long as they used the small compressor. The Delanair
evap. made for the '66-7-8 will not fit the later cars.
Then in 1971, Behr changed to a 10 cu. in. York Compressor !! Big change, and a
big mistake too, I believe. There was a 9 in. York and a 6 in. too but no they had to step
up all the way to a Truck Compressor and now they had to add another Condenser to the car
to handle the extra load. They chose to add a Small one under the chin off the car, under
and behind the front bumper, with a small electric motor inside the hood and in front of
the spare tire to cool it off.
This Factory ac could be installed when the car was
built or it could also be installed here after the car was sold. This gave the dealer
actually two cars in stock, one with air and one without. All the dealer had to was call
us, and we would install his 'Factory Air' !!
Meanwhile Coolaire, remember them, was still putting
out a lot of ac's. With the '69 car they had changed to an Evaporator. in the heater well
also but they utilized three large paper tubes to carry the air back to the dashboard and
went through the carpet one the right side in the process.
Passengers were forever stepping on these hoses and shutting off the flow of air
so a couple of years later we devised a rigid plastic duct to bring the air up and serve
as a foot rest too !! The trunk area was invaded also with a huge plastic bubble jutting
up from the floor to cover the blower.
The dash was one long plastic strip, replacing the vinyl knee pads, with three
sets of louvers and the two controls just below the steering wheel. The ash tray would now
attach below this bezel. After a few years exposure to the sun this dash would harden and
crack into little pieces. We have a replacement for this too !!
Along about 1971, VPC (formerly Delanair) launched it's
911 ac. It turned out to be a copy of the Coolaire unit but with two large hoses rather
than three and two separate Knee pad replacements that carried two louvers each. The two
switches were mounted on the right side of the ash tray and in a year or so they also had
a rigid plastic duct for the air.
VPC started off with just one condenser over the engine but then in 1972 they
added one under the left rear fender that was to be the primary condenser with it's own
fan, and this was to relieve some of the heat load of the condenser. over the engine since
the 911 engines were getting more powerful and producing more heat and running hotter.
Well that little condenser didn't last but a year. The idea was good but the execution
left a little to be desired.
VPC's compressor mount even copied Coolaire even down to the brace to the cam
cover. In 1974 the compressor bracket got much more refined.
It still mounted to the four 6mm bolts on the chain cover it always had, but now
the compressor laid down flat, head out towards the fender and the hoses were routed along
side the injection instead of through the center of the engine.
The biggest problem I can remember back in those days was that the condenser would
contact the engine somehow, usually the air hose for the heater, and wear a hole in it and
of course leak all the freon out.
There was one constant source of headache and that was the call from the
dealership saying "My guy was just adding some frees-own to this guy's 911 and
suddenly a big POP and all the frees-own came out." I would ask " did your guy
have the deck lid open while he was adding this frees-own ??"
After the inevitable pause.........."duh, yeah, I guess so."
We installed an awful lot of ac's in the '74's through '79's, mostly the VPC and
some DPD's as these two units were a lot cheaper for the dealer to buy. And that was the
bottom line after all.
The DPD had a much more substantial bracket than did the VPC, which mounted only
to the four tiny 6mm bolts on the chain cover and one 8mm stud on the intake stand. Those
6mm bolts were a real source of aggravation, they would work loose and then break and let
the bracket beat the chain cover to a pulp.
The DPD mounted to the motor mount in two places and to the intake manifold in two
places also, so we rarely had any problems with these.
Both mounted the Evaporator in the heater well and each had a large air plenum
under the dash. The easiest way to tell them apart was the way they set the two controls
into the dash, the VPC had both controls to the right side of the ashtray. The DPD had one
on either side of the ashtray, with the Thermostat to the right, which was just opposite
of the Factory unit, at least the factory ac up until 1977.
In 1977 the dash changed in the 911 for the first time in 8 years and we were
hoping that some accommodations would be made for the ac but instead they put a single
outlet, far offset away from the driver and a year later would add another small one under
the dash, more for your feet than anything. The two controls were now installed in the
console. So for a year or two the factory ac, made by Behr, who one would have thought,
would have the inside track with the designers, did have an ac, that didn't take any leg
room and was, at least in theory, finally a BUILT IN unit like a Pinto or a Chevy II.
In 1979 both VPC and DPD came out with an in dash ac, but they too were hampered
by the placement of that center vent. No longer did the full force of the air hit right up
against you, but had to reach you via a round about way.
Incidentally, if you own a 1977-8 or 9 with ac and want to increase the amount of
air you can get on you, Two Things, Purchase a center vent from a 1980 911 and get a kit
from me to add a vent low down under the dash just over the
Cold air being dense, can travel only a short distance and since heat overcomes
cold at the rate of 6 to 1 , That's Right 6 to 1 , so it behooves a designer to put the ac
outlet as close to the customer as possible.
In 1980 the Factory decided to install air in every 911 that was to be imported to
the U.S. At that point we decided that all of our business was over, but to our dismay,
there was just starting up a black market and most of these were coming in without air.
Both VPC and DPD folded up their 911 tents and concentrated on the 924 and VW's.
Volkswagen called us and offered us their remaining stock and we bought it !! When the
stock of ac's that we could buy as kits dried up, we decided to put together our own,
using the best of what was available and fabricating the rest. We chose a True Rotary Vane
Compressor made by Seiko-Seiki which is truly a smooth running, hard working wonder. Even
when Porsche went to the Nippondenso Compressor in 1984 it was still a piston compressor.
That design is known as a Swash-plate Compressor and is the same as the Sanden (or Sankyo
The latest change That Porsche made was really the first time that Air
Conditioning was given a high priority in the design of the dash and the cooling system of
the car. Now if we could only update all the older cars.............
A brief! word about me, Roger Eaton, if you don't mind. I moved to So Cal from Bay
City, Michigan in 1961 to escape the harsh winters of which I had suffered through 18 at
the time. I went to National Trade School for a year and then set out to conquer the
world. One of the first jobs I had was for a transmission shop that built racing hydros
and raced at the local drag strips in the area (all of which are gone now). Behind this
shop was a little sundries shop that sold cigarettes and that is where I met the beautiful
young lady who was to become my wife one day. The next job was for a little shop in L.A.
that installed Air Conditioners all summer and did mechanical work all winter. Well, that
guy Don spent many an hour teaching me all that he knew about the workings of an a/c
system. Soon I was working at a place called Al & Ed's that installed a/c by the
hundreds for every kind of dealer there was at the time. One spring they came to me and
asked if I would like to be the one to install all of the units on all the VW's and
Porsche's that came in, and I said sure! Well, that summer I install 1500 a/c's in mostly
VW's but some Porsches too. The next year another guy from there and I started a shop of
our own and did all the dealer work in the area.
Along about 1970 or so we began to restrict ourselves to only Porsche and Audi
work and this still kept us as busy as we wanted to be. We even had a complete a/c for the
Audi 100 and Super 90 but we didn't anticipate how much vibration one car engine could
have and we lost our shirts replacing compressor brackets on those Turkeys.
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