Speaking in very general terms, add-on air-conditioned automobiles of the late '50s and early '60s were easy to spot. The era's large hangy-down units performed adequately. However, interior legroom was sacrificed, as otherwise-stylish dashes were all but deflowered by dealerships and aftermarket installers alike. The factory air-equipped cars of that period featured somewhat less-obtrusive hardware, but complete OEM A/C changeovers can be difficult to round up in wrecking yards today.
Deep in the heart of Escondido, California, in the fabrication department of Hot Rods & Custom Stuff, customer David French's stylish-from-the-factory '59 El Camino is undergoing a good deal of styling refinement. At the time of this typewriting, the project's finished chassis waits in another section of the shop, and a genuine Rochester fuel-injected 327 has already assumed its position. Although circa 1959 factory bolt-on A/C components exist, the hunting and reconditioning required to salvage such an antiquated setup is best left to the purest of pure restorers. For the rest of us, there's Vintage Air.
For interior aesthetics, Vintage Air offers a variety of louver styles to choose from, each of which outshines the rare Chevrolet factory units. Even if they could be found, the factory air-conditioning vents for '59-60 Chevys don't even resemble surrounding interior appointments. More specifically, they'd clash with the dash. With necessity once again being the mother of invention, Hot Rods & Custom Stuff proprietor, Randy Clark birthed a notion to fabricate custom A/C vent housings that would blend as if they belonged. From here, we'll show y'all how.