By Steve Schaeber, MACS Technical Editor
In preparation for the September issue, the staff at ACTION™ checks out many classic cars. We’d really like to find some of the earliest examples of factory or aftermarket air conditioning, but are always happy to find some unique or custom HVAC setup, or something we haven’t seen for a while.
Along the road on this quest, we met up with John Posen, owner of this 1957 Ford Thunderbird.
This car doesn’t have an air conditioning system, but it does have an early example of another feature which eventually became standard on almost every vehicle worldwide. Ford called this their MagicAire System, which included a feature known as Recirculated Air Heat.
The idea was to keep out odor contaminated air and fumes from heavy traffic or other outside sources. On the system control panel, the lower knob has to be moved all the way to the left (OFF), while the top knob can be placed at the desired temperature. These settings close off the outside air doors, allowing air in the vehicle to recirculate through the heater.
Of course, there’s still a little bit more to it than that. Almost every vehicle back then also had some sort of direct venting. It works as ram air, forcing ventilation while driving at speed. This model Thunderbird has two cowl side vents, one on each side of the car just forward of the doors. In order for the MagicAire System’s recirculation to work properly, these vents must be closed.
The cowl side vent controls are located under each side of the dash and are part of the cowl vent assembly. It’s a simple open/closed control. The more you open the vent, the more air you allow to enter the vehicle.
Keep an eye out for the next edition of MACS ACTION™ Magazine. September is our classic car issue, featuring some interesting vehicles you won’t want to miss! Visit www.macsw.org to learn more!