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Vintage Air in a 1965 Mustang

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Driving a Mustang is cool, but then again, it’s not. We like to drive our ’65 in the spring and fall when the weather is ‘Nebraska Nice’ but sometimes in the summer it’s just too darn hot. The seats stick to the back of your legs, your back sweats. To me, it’s just not fun. But then again, I’m a high-maintenance city girl who doesn’t like to drive with the windows down because it will mess up my hair. So, in an effort to make our Mustang drivable year round, my dad came up with the brilliant idea (no I’m not being sarcastic) of installing a Vintage Air a/c unit.

To me, it sounded like a simple project. You just bolt in the unit and it blows cold air, right? Wrong. Little did I know, there are a lot of working components when it comes to air conditioning. Duct hoses, control panels, condensers, brackets, evaporators, dryers – really, the whole nine yards. And luckily for us, Vintage Air makes an a/c kit that includes every single piece we needed.

Before you can start installing the air conditioner, there are about a gazillion things that need to be removed from the car first. What’s that saying – you need to take one step back before you can take two steps forward? That seems appropriate for this particular project.

Let’s talk about disassembly, which is the very first step(s) of installing a Vintage Air kit:

1. First things first – DISCONNECT AND REMOVE THE BATTERY AND BATTERY TRAY. Ain’t nobody got time to be electrocuted.

2. Remove the hood latch and grill. Easy peasy, just remove the four screws it’s connected by.

3. Remove the horns, which are located in the two front corners of the car. It’s pretty simple – they’re just held in by one bolt each.

4. While you’re under the hood, you might as well take the fan out too. (You need to remove the fan in order to replace the pulleys. We only had a single groove on the water pump pulley since the car was previously only running the alternator, BUT we needed a double groove pulley to run the a/c compressor too. ALSO, we got new pulleys in chrome to help dress up the system a bit.) Important note: When you’re pulling out the fan, tape a piece of cardboard to the back of the radiator so the fan won’t tear it up when you’re trying to pull it out.

5. When you have that done, you might as well, remove the pulley from the power steering pump too. This requires a special tool – and it’s the same tool you need to put the pulley back on. (Note: We had to update to a later Saginaw style pump due to the original pump interfering with the A/C compressor. You may have to do the same.)

6. The front valance will probably have to be removed in order to install the condenser later on. Otherwise, it’s way too hard to tighten the lower a/c lines coming out of the bottom of the unit. The whole thing doesn’t have to be removed though – we just loosened up the passenger side, which is held up by six bolts. From there it can be lifted out of the way enough to get a crescent wrench behind it for later on.

7. Remove the factory heater fan motor, which is located right against the fire wall. It’s attached by four nuts. Once this is done, you can also remove the heater supply and return lines that pass through the firewall. In our case, the lines were old and probably needed replacement anyways, so we simply cut them at the firewall and set them aside.

I bet you thought all of the disassembly happened under the hood, didn’t you? WRONG AGAIN! Let’s talk about all of the things that have to be removed inside of the car:

8. Remove the passenger seat. Underneath the car, there are four caps and four nuts that are holding it in. (Plus, getting this out makes for a lot more room when working under the dash!

9. Take out the duct work that goes from the heater to the defroster vents. There are two tubes – and actually, go ahead and trash them since the kit comes with the new duct work needed.

10. Glove compartment. This one’s tricky, mostly because you should probably take everything out of the glove box first. I think we had everything but the kitchen sink in ours. You know that magic trick where the never ending handkerchief is pulled from the hat? That’s how I felt when I was cleaning out the glove box. Papers on papers on papers, and bug spray, and sun screen, and… Anyway, remove the glove box. There are three screws holding the bottom of the box and two on top. A flathead screwdriver should work. We also loosened the floor light under the box and set it aside.

11. Remove the shifter handle, as you’re going to have to take out the entire center console and it will lift up over the shifter. To detach the console, just remove the screws on the sides. (Later on you’re going to have to cut away a piece of console – otherwise, the new a/c unit won’t fit.)

12. There are three control cables that attach to the heater that run to the control panel. Remove those cables – doing so allows you to remove the heater box. Note: When taking out the heater, be very careful. Even though it’s been drained already, more antifreeze can still come out – and that’s messy. After the cables are removed, you can also take out the control panel. It is held on by two nuts and clamps on the backside of the panel. They are a bear to get to! We found that if you remove the old heater box first you will get a little more room to be able to navigate under the dash. But make sure to save the control panel itself! You’ll need to reuse this panel with the new unit.

The speaker cover will also have to come off of the dash. You’ll need to get down in there later.

So there you have it, the disassembly of a ’65 Mustang before installing a new air conditioner unit. The calm before the storm… Are there more parts on the cart than are left in the car? Quite possibly!

If you're curious just exactly how an air conditioning system works, check out Alanna's write up on the process by clicking here.

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