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AC Installation cost

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Hello

I own a 1972 240Z without air conditioning. The dealer installed AC was pulled out. I've been searching for someone to install one for me. I don’t have the skill, space or tools to complete the task. I have my eye on the Gen II compac from Vintage Air. I currently live in Southern Cal and at some point will be moving to Texas. The quote I received from a shop in Santa Ana, CA called The Air Shop was about $3,200. That would include the Gen II, an electric fan and installation. It’s my understanding that this is very labor intensive. I just want to know if this is considered a reasonable cost or maybe they don’t won’t to work on it and gave me a high quote to get me to go someplace else. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Larry

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Might be a bit high. I had the unit that MSA sells installed with electric fan for about $1,600 a few years ago in SoCal. The unit you're looking at may be more expensive, but installation cost should be about the same for any unit.

Dennis

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I seem to recall the cost of a Vintage-Air system for my '66 Mustang being around $1600 back in the late 90's (installed). I know that would be more in today's dollars, but I don't know how much more.

The system was very nice, but I think the professional installation was a bit ragged around the edges. The freon lines were pointed up into the hood (touching it), and the ducts to the side vents were installed over an accessory fuse block I installed. (The installer could have easily moved it, but he didn't.) If I had to do it over again, I'd install my own.

Oh, and FAIW, your decision to install AC for Texas is spot-on. I can't imagine NOT having AC there. (I've lived all over the state.) I would also recommend you consider installing louvers over your hatch glass. It makes such a big difference not to have the sun beating down in your black-carpeted hatch! I wish I had done that when I owned my Z in Texas.

Edited by FastWoman

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Thanks for your feedback. If anyone knows any other shop down here in SoCal that you can recommend let me know.

Larry

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FWIW, Probably the reason it's so expensive is that you have to remove the dash and seats making it labor-intensive. It is not a simple plug-n-play. About $1500 for the Vintage Air kit. V.A. doesn't make a kit specifically for our cars. The shop will have to make a compressor mount as V.A. doesn't supply one. I think the price is pretty fair considering it took me a week of work to put mine in, and I'm a pretty fair mechanic. The V.A. units are much more efficient than the old style A/C. I'm happy with my Hot Rod Air system (very similar to the V.A. unit), but unfortunately they are no longer in business.

Cheers, Mike

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Thanks Mike

I appreciate the info. I'm feeling better about the cost considering all they would have to do.

Thanks

LC

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Just another option to investigate: You might be able to find all the used parts you need for an R12 installation. There's a possibility you might even be able to buy a remanufactured R12 compressor. The R12 freon is still available and is cheaper than it was, shortly after its manufacture was halted. You might even be able to do an R134a adaptation of a stock R12 system. The advantage to either of these approaches is that it can become a DIY project. If you go with R12, you'll of course need to have a certified/licensed shop evacuate and charge. I think you can handle the R134a yourself without any special certifications. I think $150 - $200 is all you'd require in special tooling -- a vacuum pump and a set of manifolds.

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I think you can handle the R134a yourself without any special certifications.

Even here in Kalifornia you can get R134a over the counter. Theres a core charge of I think $10 a can but anyone can purchase it. Also some parts stores will rent you an vacuum pump and some gauges

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Considering AC parts, compressor mount, building custom lines, electric fan and control, and labor, $3200 might not be that far out of line. I assume a warranty comes with it as well.

As a CA car, I am assuming your air pump is still in place and the compressor will be installed above the alternator. Check to see if the harmonic balancer (pulley on the crankshaft) has an unused groove from the removed AC system.

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Could you buy a AC compressor bracket setup from a 280z? I notice the 2.4L in my 240z has threaded bosses on the driver side. I know some cars had air pumps so I assume this is where the bracket mounted but could a 280z compressor bracket mount there too?

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A/C units on old cars are not an easy DIY and shops that do that type of work are not easy on the wallet.

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My car doesn't have an air pump. I thought the compressor would be on the drivers side where the air pump would normally be.

LC

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Hi LC,

I mounted the compressor on my Series I in the air pump location. That mount bracket cost me north of $200.

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I've got the dealer installed A/C from a 72 Z. Was going to put it in my car but changed my mind. Had it for quite a while but if your interested, PM me.

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Most Vintage Air Dealers - are Custom Car / Hot Rod Shops. They install these systems all the time. I would recommend talking to them before you do anything.

I installed a Vintage Air System in my 72 Z. Installed the Compressor with the 280Z Compressor mount. Installed the Evap. Unit in place of the original heater. Bolted the Condenser in place. Then had the local Hot Rod Shop make the necessary R134 lines between the components. They had the lines made up and everything hooked up in about 4 hours.

The Vintage Air Gen II Super Cooler easily fit in place - once I took the original heater control levers and radio out - I could reach almost everything necessary thru there.

Very unlike the original Dealer Installed Systems that sucked air though the heater system - the Vintage Air System blow air over the evaporator and puts out about 2 to 3 times the volume of cold air.

However - none of the systems equal the A/C found in modern cars. On hot days - if you are going to drive for 15 minutes+ the Vintage Air system will cool the car - but the cold air circulation in the 240Z is very limited. The cold air comes out of the dash - and gets sucked back into the return right under the dash. That huge Greenhouse behind the seats - stays hot for a long time. The cold air only gets sucked back there slowly - as the fresh air vents let the hot air out.

Plus the 240Z's leak air around the doors/windows, have a lot of glass area and poor heat insulation… So if the car sits outside in the Sun for more than an hour or two - it takes a longer trip to cool the car back down.

I see today that Vintage Air actually sells "trunk mounted units". Putting the evaporator unit behind the seats and blowing cold air forward might actually cool the car faster.. That or use two evaporator units, one under the dash and another in the rear deck.

In the end - I just bought a more modern sports car - to use in the Florida Summers. One with great A/C from the factory. I drive the 240Z the other 8 or 9 months of the year without A/C.

FWIW,

Carl B

Edited by Carl Beck

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Hello Carl

Thanks for the input. Really good feedback and information. I'll look at the trunk mounted units as well. I also have a 1995 300ZXTT with working AC, so I might end up doing what you do. In the hot summer months pull out the 300ZX and when the weather is nice I can drive the 240Z.

LC

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My 1972 240z is ready to install an AC System. I already bought the GEN Mini evaporator and Sanden 508 compressor. I have seen cars that have a Fast Idle Control Device. As mine never brought it from Factory, is it necessary to get one? If so where can i purchase this part? I am also afraid that my car engine can get heated with the ac on in traffic jams. Should i install a fan shroud to my champion 2 row race radiator?

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An extra set of electric fans will help with cooling in traffic.  You can wire them to come on with a thermostat or manually if you want to control them yourself.

Dennis

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to get a good working AC in a 240 would require a lot of changes, including ducting. I recall my 240 with the evap mounted down in the passenger side foot area was never very good at dealing with florida heat. The stock fan and duct work just is not designed to flow enough IMHO air for a good result. The biggest beef I have with the aftermarket stuff like vintage air is it seems to delete the vent from the outside. Now my 280 seems to work much better with the evap located just behind the main vents. To get a really good working ac in a 240 and keep all the heating and vents working would take a lot of engineering in my opinion.

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For reference, installation of a vintage air system in a 240/280 takes from 50-70 hours to do it properly. Remember, you have to remove the dash, fabricate mountings for all the components, wire and duct run and adapt everything. Custom hose and fittings, drains, etc etc etc. Yes the fresh air vent ducting is a challenge. Full basic Vintage air components are ~$1000 USD. I'd love to know who would do all that including the hardware for $2K....  Not any where near here

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31 minutes ago, zKars said:

For reference, installation of a vintage air system in a 240/280 takes from 50-70 hours to do it properly. Remember, you have to remove the dash, fabricate mountings for all the components, wire and duct run and adapt everything. Custom hose and fittings, drains, etc etc etc. Yes the fresh air vent ducting is a challenge. Full basic Vintage air components are ~$1000 USD. I'd love to know who would do all that including the hardware for $2K....  Not any where near here

I just re-read all of your instructions you sent me from last year as I am nearing this part of the restoration.... yeesh...

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Yeesh indeed. The only thing that is changed is the use of vintage air's generic  laser cut Sanden compressor bracket to ease that part of the fab and my new found love for EZ-Clip AC hose fittings so I can make my own hoses more easily. The hoses are also smaller and have a  tighter bend radius. Still pricey'r than generic crimp hose and fittings but worth it.

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