A/C or convert?

Discussion in 'The Big Chill' started by hvramesq, Dec 21, 2015.

  1. hvramesq

    hvramesq Silver Level contributor

    Hello All,

    Would appreciate some advise. I am looking for 70 gs/skyark cloned or to clone into a gsx. Since I live in south florida, I want an a/c car. However, seeing lots of good options that are non a/c cars. How difficult would it be to convert to a factory looking and functioning a/c car? Is it worth the hassle? I heard about vintage air but presume it will not look stock.


  2. flynbuick

    flynbuick Guest

    To make it look and operate as designed some of the dash, including the dash pad, would need to be changed. The vintage air compressor is a Sanden Sp? It will not look stock. I suspect you are talking several thousand for parts and labor.
  3. elagache

    elagache Platinum Level Contributor

    The usual trade-offs . . . (Re: A/C or convert?)

    Dear hvram, Jim, and V-8 Buick coolcats, . . . :bglasses:

    Jim is correct. You cannot make a truly stock looking GS-X using Vintage Air. In addition to the compressor, the evaporator takes more space under the dash so the glove compartment won't be stock either. If you are looking for a project where you can make money - this isn't the ticket.

    On the other hand, if you aren't a nit-picker about being stock, but want a car that is fun to drive, there is a lot to be said for the Vintage Air systems and their competitors. My trusty wagon has been upgraded to Vintage Air and I really like it. It works like a modern auto A/C system so it tries to automatically maintain the temperature of the car no matter if it is summer or winter.

    Basically you need to ask yourself if you want a very faithful clone or if you want more of a "restomod" with modern features skillfully fitted to look original. My wagon hasn't been working properly for more than about a month. Nonetheless, I have had a lot of enjoyment in that 1 month and the weather has been bad for December in northern California! :3gears:

    Cheers, Edouard :beer
  4. Waterboy

    Waterboy Mullet Mafia since 6/20

    Hey hvram.... Give me a shout when you get your Buick, or even while you are looking for your new toy. I just finished posting "Looking for V8 Buicks in South Florida." I have a lot of great turbo friends, but I'm getting tired of looking at their "Black cars." Where are you located in South Florida?
  5. LonghornSS

    LonghornSS Well-Known Member

    A vintage air unit in a 70 GS can be done. If you leave your heater box in place on the engine side. The lines in these units come out where the blower motor is in a factory heater car. You can then convert your heater control panel to operate the VA unit. Using the correct parts which will be a custom order from VA as well as a custom install. then you will need a set of brackets to mount the condenser in the front of the car.

    the dash pad is where it gets fun. As far as I can tell there are 3 different pads for these cars. There is a non A/c pad with no vents. A non a/c pad with outside vents and then finally a A/c pad with 3 vents.

    I have converted 2 70-72 GS cars. This can be done but you have to have more hands on skill than your standard bolt on kit, as well as a knowledge of the Vintage Air kits. Or at least someone to guide you through the process. I am using vintage air as an example because these are the kits I have had the most success with in my experience.

    Oh oh yeah you will also need a bracket to mount a Sanden compressor to a 455 or 350.
  6. philbquick

    philbquick Founders Club Member

    A Vintage Air system is the easiest, cleanest way to do it but it wont look stock. If you want a stock look either start collecting parts or find a rusted-out 4 door with A/C car as a donor. If you use a factory system be sure to use POA and expansion valves calibrated for R134. Also, I hear that stock A6 compressors do not do well with frequent cycling and they make a newer version of the A6 more suited for cycling.
  7. LonghornSS

    LonghornSS Well-Known Member

    Here are are a couple of pictures of one of the vintage air install I did in a 70 GS

    This is the new Sanden compressor mounted to the bracket I designed to replace an original A/C alternator
    The condensor mounts back in the original area with a couple of simple brackets.
    A590CA49-F9C3-42EE-A43F-7D5D5D6CE11C.jpg 4584A4AE-58BB-4EEF-A726-ADD0F06D063D.jpg 40568076-F73F-4701-AB26-A0516BC44D7D.jpg 5A84A9BC-C230-41B2-9394-E1671ADE3634.jpg
    The dash in this car was originally fro. A heater car with 2 end vents. So we utilized them and a set of generic I detr dash vents from vintage air. Again some of these cars came with 3 dash vents so you would not have to use the lower vent. But some had no vents so you would have to use 3-4 under dash louvers. We also converted the original heater controls to handle the operation of the evaporator.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2015
  8. nekkidhillbilly

    nekkidhillbilly jeffreyrigged youtube channel owner

    isn't everything but the dash pad vents and the engine ac bracket repoped since it would be universal to other a bodies?
  9. LonghornSS

    LonghornSS Well-Known Member

    the defrost ducts and vent ducts are all different across the board for all "A" bodies as well.

    The other thing to consider when converting a factory heater car to a factory A/C car is that the hole in the firewall is a completely different size and shape.

    Here Is an A/C firewall
    and here is the Heater Car

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 29, 2015
  10. gs66

    gs66 Silver Level contributor

    Either way, wind up with air in the car. It makes it much more drivable.
  11. walleyebum

    walleyebum Active Member

    thinking of converting to air,does anyone have pictures of you doing the firewall,putting in the a/c piece,I have most factory parts to do the convert,just need a little help with pictures
  12. elagache

    elagache Platinum Level Contributor

    OEM or aftermarket A/C ? (Re: A/C or convert?)

    Dear walleyebum and V-8 Buick "cool-cat" wannabees, . . . . :bglasses:

    What sort of air conditioning are you considering? You do want to get hold of the original Buick parts or you want to switch to an aftermarket system? I have a Vintage Air system in my 1965 Buick wagon which I'm extremely pleased with. There is a thread with some of the installation information here:


    Either route has its own difficulties. The aftermarket route has one advantage that can be overlooked. Because it uses components from modern car A/C systems, it works like a modern car. It is more efficient and will attempt to maintain the temperature for a given setting. So what you lose in originality, you gain in comfort and convenience.

    Cheers, Edouard :beer
  13. rtv72

    rtv72 Founders Club Member

    Just a thought! Buy an A/C car and add the options you want. P/S, P/B, P/D locks. This is easier than adding A/C and you have factory looking car!

  14. nekkidhillbilly

    nekkidhillbilly jeffreyrigged youtube channel owner

    yeah I said the dash pad and the vents. those parts shouldn't be difficult to find really and some of parts from a non ac are the same as ac cars so you just need like one or two ducts that aren't there on non ac cars and the dash pad with the vents of course.
  15. bignastyGS

    bignastyGS Maggot pilot

    Any pictures of how to convert the control panel??

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