116 GTV Franken A/C install
Not wanting to go through another summer with only driving my GTV at night, or on days that the temperature was low enough so that is was bearable (i.e. below 25* C), I recently decided to put air conditioning back into the car. When I bought my current car about 5 years ago, it had the original Alfa A/C, but not working. At the time, I was more interested in getting the car on the road (which entailed a full mechanical upgrade to 75 T-S mechanicals). It had passed my mind to keep all the A/C thinking of this type of project down the road (but that is as far as it got). Knowing how lame the original fitment was even when quite new (I owned an ’83 model back in 1989), it was never really an option to recommission the original system, so all bar the heater box came out.
Having also owned a few daily driver 75s, including one with 40,000 km on it back in about 1991-2, I remember the A/C was far better than the lame effort in the GTV. I also had always disliked the appearance of the A/C unit in the GTVs… very cheap and nasty. So recently having decided to break another 75 I decided to see if the A/C system could in fact be used in the GTV to give me adequate A/C. A few initial measurements concluded that it seemed that it may be feasible.
Of course, Alfa was pretty broke back when the 75 was developed, so that worked in favour for me. The firewall, scuttle and tunnel architecture was pretty similar from observations and previous experience. First job was to see if the H-A/C unit would actually fit into the space of the GTV. I had been meaning to replace my windscreen so this made it all (a bit) easier by removing it first. Not surprisingly being a Canberra (inland Aus.) car, there was not a trace of rust behind the seal.
Comparing the 2 units in operation and manufacture, it is chalk and cheese. The 75 unit is much more sophisticated in directing air. The biggest single improvement is the fan pushes the air from the rear. This results in much better flow and lower noise. The GTV creating unacceptable noise at anything other than the lowest setting (which does next to nothing).
The H-A/C unit did fit with the scuttle to tunnel distance being identical, but needed the brackets from the scuttle of the 75 to be transferred over (the GTV has 4 bolts, whereas the 75 has clips at the rear, and 2 bolts at the front on extended brackets. Just a bit of drilling and riveting. 3 of the 4 holes for water and A/C are in the same place on the RHS firewall. One more requires drilling. The drain is in the same place.
Now that I was happy that it would fit, I cleaned and serviced the unit (seized fan, full of leaves and melted high speed resistor) and replaced the TX valve (Also for local GM car and Saab). I now was about to go past the point of no return: I ordered all the parts ($1200 AUD), and started to cut the dash to clear the larger heater unit. This required me putting the dash in place and back out to make adjustments possibly 15 times. The most difficult part of this is the two side vents…. Both sides of the dash near the H-A/C must be trimmed to clear the outer air ducts. The original RHS duct can be used behind the instruments, but a flexible hose must be used on the LHS. A small section of the glove box must be trimmed to allow this flex hose to go up to the scuttle behind the dash. I chose to blank off the side vents from the outside air as these are only useful on days where the outside temperature suits your personal thermostat. I also changed these vents to Alfa 156 vents as I have always thought they were out of character with the car.
The centre console and controls are from the 75.This to me was a major attraction of the work. I have always detested the GTV controls. The upper portion that houses the centre vents must be cut from the 75 dash (with a jigsaw or something like that). There is a bit of trimming to get it to fit nicely around the GTV dash. I made a piece that encloses the top of this part above the vent and used a hot glue gun to hold it in place. The 75 console angles towards the driver, so there is a bit of a mismatch compared to the GTV dash here. However, I like the appearance more than the tacky old set up.
I fitted up the new 14” x 21” parallel flow condenser and relocated my engine oil cooler and power steering cooler. I already was running a T-S fan behind the radiator (these are quite large and the only ones on the 75), so just wired it in parallel with the compressor clutch. The new Sanden SD7H14 8908 fitted up to the engine on the OE brackets. Wiring was integrated etc. The A/C hoses I used were Atco Air-O- Crimp. This allowed me to make the hoses at home to my exact routing preferences without trips to and from a hose place. I had to move my coils for the third time to up near the RHS firewall on the inner guard.
So all together and checked, off to get it gassed. The result is that I am happy! I have driven it in 31 degrees after it was outside in the sun all day, and it was to a comfortable temperature within 5 minutes. Ramped up to the max, my wife will certainly complain that it’s too cold.
The final verdict is that its not modern air conditioning like the climate control on my Subaru, but it pumps out icy cold air and is going to make the car pleasant to drive all year round (considering Canberra has extremes from -8 to 42 Degrees Celsius). I have used mostly Alfa parts and the dash/centre console comes from the same era (mid eighties).
What went wrong, and what improvements can I make:
• I thought it would take me 35, maybe 40 hours, it took me probably 60ish.
• Not sure if this is just the fan resistors, but the fan low is too low, high is too high (and the fan unit vibrates a bit on high).
• You get some, but stuff all air though the outer vents, maybe I should have modded the H-A/C box to duct all air to the centre vents and kept the fresh air outer vents.
• The remodelled console did not hold up. The glue gun glue was not up to the task and within two days separated. I will have to remove and plastic weld this (when I have time).
• I painted the console in gloss black thinking the textured finish would dull the paint. It didn’t have the effect I wanted so will have to redo when I do the plastic welding. There are a couple of rough areas here that I will sort out too.
• I probably will get the windows tinted (although I generally don’t like this look).
• I can feel the extra weight up front (I reckon there’s about 12 kg more).
• The performance has suffered a bit (I need a programmable ECU that will disconnect the A/C when I boot it). That and one day one day build up that next engine with my Eaton M62 supercharger that is lying gathering dust.
Luke Clayton - Now: 1985 GTV6 3.0, 1986 GTV 3.2 24V (long term project) // Past: 8 x 105, 7 x 116, 4 x 900, 4 x 160