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A Cool History Lesson

At the NYE Automotive Group, one of our favorite parts of being a leader in the auto dealership business is seeing all of the latest technological advances in our new arrivals.

As the weather gets a bit hotter this time of year, some of us even wonder what it must have been like for an earlier generation as they experienced the introduction of automobile air conditioning in the late 1930s. Just what was considered the cutting edge, state of the art AC technology back then?

Let’s take a trip into the past and see what our elders experienced in the vehicles sporting the original air conditioning systems. The year was 1939, and it was the Packard Motor Car Company that became the first automobile manufacturer to offer air conditioning in their cars. The cooling apparatus was then called the “Weather Conditioner,” according to Wikipedia.

That system of air control was far from the console-operated convenience and comfort of today. When the very first air conditioned cars came out, there was a major component missing that we take for granted today. There were no dashboard controls, so operating this relief from the heat was actually quite burdensome by today’s standards.

With no temperature thermostat or shut-off mechanism, the rider actually had to switch the blower off to cut the AC. That’s not too bad by itself, but unfortunately the cold air could continue to enter the car because the drive belt was still connected to the compressor. When the AC passed the comfort level and passengers started to get chilly, the driver had to stop the engine, pop open the hood, and disconnect the belt.

The price also was off-setting … the Weather Conditioner was an extra $274, which was big bucks back in the days before World War II. To put that in the perspective of today‘s money, back then the average car cost $800, gas was 18 cents per gallon, the minimum wage was 30 cents an hour, and the average annual salary was $1,900.

To make matters worse, the Weather Conditioner’s main evaporator and blower system were in the rear and filled half of the car’s trunk space. There were several feet of piping going back and forth from the engine to the trunk, and that set-up was unreliable and not very efficient.

Kind of makes you glad to be living in the 21st century, where your climate comfort is a given in just about any vehicle you climb into, doesn’t it?

To see all of the latest advances in vehicle technology from air conditioning to fuel efficiency to safety features, stop by NYE Automotive today.

The NYE Automotive Group is located at 1479 Genesee St. in Oneida, N.Y. 13421. For more info on any of our vehicles and services, call (315) 363-0600 or email sales@nyeauto.com.

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