While driving on a sweltering day, a good air conditioning system is a delightful boon. Clement indoor air protects us from fainting or falling prey to a heat stroke, and thereby helps protect the other drivers on the road too. To examine some of the most notable developments in the history of this lovely invention, simply keep scrolling!

No more manual fanning

The 1933 issue of the American magazine Popular Science Monthly tells the story of the birth of the first auto AC system. The lowering of temperature that is accomplished by a refrigerating compressor (placed beneath the car’s floor boards) was astounding at the time. The strength of the breeze was controllable from both the instrument board and the rear seat. The radiator elevated the air temperature by putting hot water through its coils, and the filtering of air occurred through a special duct. Either a battery or a car generator was the source of the compressor’s power. Showcased in the streets of New York City, the air-conditioned design was primarily available for high-priced cars at the time.

President Coolidge looking at a 1924 car.

President Coolidge, with a loudspeaker-installed car (1924).

It lacked air conditioning.

Democratizations and reforms

By 1940, the automobile manufacturer Packard released the first cars with factory-installed air-conditioning. In the 1950s, Nash Ambassador pioneered the integration of heating into the air conditioning system. By the 1970s, more than half of the cars on the new car market came with an AC system. Beginning in the 1930s, R12 (dichlorodifluoromethane) became automakers’ go-to refrigerant, as it was neither flammable nor poisonous. In 1994, however, concerns about ozone layer depletion led lawmakers to ban R12, which led to the use of the less effective but less damaging Freon: R-134a.

A logo on a 1957 Rambler.

A 1957 Rambler that bears a logo that advertises air conditioning.

Mad Max AC

Today, AC systems are present in 99% of all new cars and utilize R-134a, although cars that were built prior to 1994 are still eligible for retrofitting. Automatic climate control systems have appeared, allowing drivers to manipulate settings to the point that air distribution and fan speed can be controlled. Options like “Max AC” are also available to cool the car faster in the event that the car is parked in the sun for a long time.

A contemporary auto air conditioning system.


Although we often take auto air conditioning systems for granted today, a deep dive into some of their history can immediately humble us into being thankful for all the sleek technologies at our disposal. If your car’s cooling system is encountering issues, feel free to bring it to H.W. Automotive Inc.!