Mark Houlahan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
December 21, 2011
Photos By: Steve Baur

Classic Fords of the '60s were rarely optioned with factory air conditioning (unless you are discussing high line vehicles like the Thunderbird or a Lincoln). The early A/C systems of the time period often bolted to the underdash area and hung down between the front seat passengers (a few non-Ford systems even mounted in the trunk!). Later in the decade, as the option’s popularity grew, Ford engineered in-dash A/C solutions for assembly-line-installed, factory-optioned systems.

As A/C became more and more prevalent into the '70s, it was easier to find a Ford on the dealer’s lot with factory in-dash A/C. This has become one of those infamous good news/bad news scenarios for classic car buffs. It's great when you find a car with factory air, but finding the parts to make it all work can often be a chore, as many parts are not reproduced. This is where you have to call in an expert on classic Ford air conditioning systems, and that's exactly what we did with this '73 Mach 1. A call to Classic Auto Air's OEM factory parts division was our first step in helping this Mach 1's owner feel comfortable again for the upcoming summer driving season.

The '73 Mustang, like most Fords of that time period, has a fairly complicated factory air system full of vacuum motors, vacuum switches, cables, doors, fiberglass, and steel components that don't take 35-plus years of moisture and deterioration well. Sure, you can yank it all out and install something like Classic Auto Air’s Perfect Fit system, but admittedly, as well as the Perfect Fit is designed and works, you still have to drill a few holes and make some permanent modifications. While that's rarely an issue here at Modified Mustangs & Fords, we do take exception to the rarer of the breed and would never build a Pro Touring or street machine effort out of a Boss, Mach, or Shelby.

This '73 Mach is a perfect example. It's completely stock except for a nice mild build of the 351C underhood, so to get the A/C working right, we opted to go through the factory system and rebuild/repair what was needed using Classic Auto Air's vast inventory of reproduction and good used parts. Topping off the rebuild is a new Sanden compressor on the Clevo. The Sanden is more efficient than the original compressor and can take higher rpm than the original as well. Since our new 351C is built for a little more rpm, we decided to play it safe with the Sanden, which is a simple bolt-on upgrade and is completely reversible.

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Quit Your Stalling
While our Mach 1 had nice cold air blowing from its dash once again, the modified Cleveland wasn't too happy about running the compressor at idle speeds, especially when cold. A simple solution is a "throttle kicker," a vacuum or electrically operated solenoid that raises the idle speed when the A/C is on by simply pushing on the mechanical throttle lever just enough to bump the idle a couple of hundred rpm. While there are original Ford units to be found, the owner of the Mach wasn't too concerned with originality when it came to the engine, so he simply ordered one up from Holley. Check it out as Carriage Automotive in nearby Apollo Beach, Florida, performed the quick installation.

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