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Adding A/C to my 77 Vette


Jul 22, 2001
Groton, MA USA
1977 Black Coupe
Hi There,

It was a hot day in New England today...even hotter while driving in my Vette. I am the original proud owner of a black 77. Back when I ordered the car, I didn't feel that A/C was a necessary option to purchase. But after today's drive I am seriously thinking of adding A/C to my baby.

Has anyone out there taken on this project?

I would like to keep the A/C addon as close as a factory installation would have it back in 1977.

Any recommendations would be appreciated.

Chris is the expert on this and I'm sure he'll respond. He was very helpful in my decision to proceed. I too have a black c-3 but a 1978.
In summary it is a b**** of an installation but can be done according to Chris. A good winter project. He has seen other installations by "professionals" on c-3s and is also in the midst of one as himself. He could probably e-mail the dialogue we had back and forth on the subject.
Let me warn you though, I was discouraged by Vintage Air and every retailer and installer I talked to.
The advice I received was that if I wanted A/C I should sell my vette and buy another one with it factory installed!
I suspect you have almost no choice but to go with an original installation. The biggest areas of concern are the evaporator case, fan case, distributor box and ductwork. You may need to cut a larger hole in the firwall for the evap case/dist box. And, I'm not sure if your fan mounting stud & holes are in the same location as an a/c car. Get a copy of the Assembly manual for your year. There will be good illustrations on how these systems are put together. The 1977 Chevy Service Manual from GM also has excellent information on the a/c systems. This manual is out of print and may only be bought used (ebay).

You can buy refurbished evap cases and dist boxes from ZIP, Paragon and others. They are not cheap. You will also need 1) evaporator, 2) drier, 3) compressor and mounting brackets, 4) condenser and brackets, 5) hoses, 6) low-pressure switch, 7) wiring harness, 8) console control assembly, 9) idle speed solenoid. Just off the top of my head, I bet you could easily spend 2-3k on these parts, new or refurb. You may be able to find some used stuff for cheaper (Gruhala).

Personnally, I would not attempt such a project. Its prohibitively expensive and very difficult.

I actually removed all of the a/c components from my 77 with the exception of the evap case, of course (sorry, I'm not willing to part with the parts!). The system wasn't working anyway and it would have been several hundred dollars to fix. I'm in northern Illinois and it does get really hot around here but it doesn't last too long and the warm evenings are what I like best anyway.

Sorry, but I just don't have any words of encouragement for this project. Good luck, though, should you decide to proceed!

I don't know about being an "expert" on the subject, but I do have a fasination for air conditioning systems in general.

I happen to have most of the a/c stuff you need to do the job. At the moment I am waiting to hear back from a fellow that is interested in purchasing it. The bolt pattern is the same for the housing, but the hole in the firewall has to be cut out a little larger. You should consider removing at least the center and passenger side of your dash, and pull all the old heater, blower motor stuff out. I have an old 78 firewall here that I would be happy to measure and send you the template on the hole.

A good air saw would do the cut job for you. After that, you are just bolting in parts. You will do a lot of standing on your head during the process and routing vacuum lines. You will want fresh rubber lines, compressor, and condenser to complete the project.

The Super Cooler II compact from Vintage Air is almost the same size as the factory under the dash a/c unit. It will require some custom work to complete. The nice thing about this unit is it will eliminate the entire engine side firewall system. It all fits under the dash. You will have to get custom made a/c lines, the suggested condenser and the compressor and brackets of your choice.

I think Redmist may actually get his up and running before me as I am also in the middle of the frame off restoration (don't even have the motor finished yet).

This not a job for the first time do it yourselfer. However, it is not rocket science either. Just keep us posted of your progress and we can help guide you through. If you decide to go factory, check back with me. If my used system is not gone by then, I can make you a good deal on it.

I have the parts you need.When I put the big block in my 77 I removed all the a.c. stuff and have it tucked away in my garage.
If the price is right, the parts from 540vette would be better for you as it sounds like they are from the same year model. My control head is the older style and would not do you any good.

Hey, 540---give us the details on your ride. I did not see a Community Introduction under your name.

From what I have read, it sounds like a rocket.
Hi Folks,

Thanks to all those who read and replied my topic. This is certainly a great resource for us. :cool

As of today, I think I am going to re-think this project. Didn't expect so many changes, etc. I don't think I have the guts to disassemble my dash components yet! This definitely is an off-summer project, no doubt.

540vette: Hang in there with those '77 parts. I just may be giving you a call. Thanks.

I plan to let you folks see pictures of my black beauty soon! :)

Thanks again,
John -- aka -- yorkbeachbum

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