With summer temps fast approaching, you may reach to turn on the air conditioner. While we now take the car air conditioner for granted, it was not always the case.
In 1933, a company in New York City first offered installation of air conditioning for cars. These air conditioners were manufactured by Bishop and Babcock Co, of Cleveland Ohio. The “Bishop and Babcock Weather Conditioner” also incorporated a heater. Cars ordered with the new “Weather Conditioner” were shipped from Packard’s East Grand Boulevard facility to the B&B factory where the conversion was performed. Once complete, the car was shipped to a local dealer where the customer would take delivery. Packard fully warranted and supported this conversion, and marketed it well. However, it was not successful for a number of issues:
- It had no temperature thermostat or shut-off switch other than switching the blower off.
- The main evaporator and blower system took up half of the trunk space.
- The price, was over $200, which made it unaffordable for many in the post-depression/pre-war America.
This resulted in the Bishop and Babcock air conditioner being discontinued after 1941, but the automobile builders took notice.
Air conditioning was adopted quickly, and by 1960 about 20% of all cars in the U.S. had the option, with the percentage increasing to 80% in the warm areas of the Southwest. American Motors made air conditioning standard equipment on all vehicles starting with the 1968 model year, a first in the mass market, with a base price starting at $2,671. By 1969, 54% of the domestic automobiles were equipped with air conditioning, with the feature needed not only for passenger comfort, but also to increase the car’s resale value.
Today, more than 99% of all new cars are air conditioned. This is a great benefit to allow you and your passengers to be cool and comfortable during the summer.