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How difficult is it to add air conditioning to a graduate? I'd have a mechanic do the work, but I'm wondering if there are off-the-shelf kits that could be used vs. the mechanic having to fabricate a system. How much would doing this cost (kit/parts + an estimate of labor hours)?

If I do add AC, would it work as well as, better than or worse than a functioning factory AC (from a mid 80's series 3)? Also, would adding the AC be visually seamless (would anyone but a mechanic/expert be able to see the added components)?

If there are multiple different ways to add AC, which ones are the best.

Thanks in advance!
 

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How difficult is it to add air conditioning to a graduate? I'd have a mechanic do the work, but I'm wondering if there are off-the-shelf kits that could be used vs. the mechanic having to fabricate a system. How much would doing this cost (kit/parts + an estimate of labor hours)?

If I do add AC, would it work as well as, better than or worse than a functioning factory AC (from a mid 80's series 3)? Also, would adding the AC be visually seamless (would anyone but a mechanic/expert be able to see the added components)?

If there are multiple different ways to add AC, which ones are the best.

Thanks in advance!
The best way? It's a two step process:

Step 1: Sell your Graduate
Step 2: Buy a Quad, Veloce, or a Grad with A/C.

You could certainly source all the bits and pieces from an A/C Spider but the cost would be significant. I'd almost guarantee that you could swap cars cheaper than you could add A/C to your Graduate, especially if you're paying someone to do all the work.

-Jason
 

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I'm 100% with Jason on this.
 

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Same here... would be silly ...Unless you find a parts car to get all the parts you need And still would be alot of work & $$ !!
 

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If I do add AC, would it work as well as, better than or worse than a functioning factory AC (from a mid 80's series 3)? Also, would adding the AC be visually seamless (would anyone but a mechanic/expert be able to see the added components)?

If there are multiple different ways to add AC, which ones are the best.

Thanks in advance!
It would be lots of work and lots of cash, but if you did find all the parts, it would work almost as well as new (which wasnt bad, but not great). I believe all AC systems were added by the dealers on S3 Spiders. The only difference would be that you would not be using R12, but likely R134 or an alternative coolent which don't really work as efficiently in a system designed for R12, by most accounts. You'd also be adding it to a 20 or so year old car. You would want to be confident in your cooling system and overall car "health" before making the investment. It might make sense if you had put a load of money into the rest of the car recently and had it "just right", or had some sentimental attachement, but otherwise, I agree with the other comments, not worth it.

IMHO, YMMV, etc.
 

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I can't fathom the rational for that. I have an 86 with factory air, and haven't used the air in about 10 years..except to test it annually. With the top down, it is a waste of power, and since I never (except in really heavy rain) put the top up...WHY??? Of course here in the mountains of\ northern Nevada, at 6,000 or more feet, the temperature never gets above mid 80's. I do, however store it with the top up.. Sports cars weren't made for the likes of AC. The AC will cost power....no doubt about it. and the cost is not really worth it
 

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I can't fathom the rational for that. I have an 86 with factory air, and haven't used the air in about 10 years..except to test it annually. With the top down, it is a waste of power, and since I never (except in really heavy rain) put the top up...WHY??? Of course here in the mountains of\ northern Nevada, at 6,000 or more feet, the temperature never gets above mid 80's. Sports cars weren't made for the likes of AC. The AC will cost power....no doubt about it. and the cost is not really worth it
Living at 7,000 feet, I agree! So what would a complete set-up be worth, as I've been thinking of pulling all of the A/C components from my '83 Spider Veloce?
 

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I understand your desire for AC, but I've never had it on my classics or Alfas, even when living in the deep south!

For me, cooling was a two step process: 1. Open the vent windows and 2. Hit the gas! :)
 

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ever seen a maita with the top down??? it's like chicken teeth... ' honey , let's take the maita out for a drive.. and we'll keep the top up ' that's why we bought the convertable for...
 

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How difficult is it to add air conditioning to a graduate? I'd have a mechanic do the work, but I'm wondering if there are off-the-shelf kits that could be used vs. the mechanic having to fabricate a system. How much would doing this cost (kit/parts + an estimate of labor hours)?

If I do add AC, would it work as well as, better than or worse than a functioning factory AC (from a mid 80's series 3)? Also, would adding the AC be visually seamless (would anyone but a mechanic/expert be able to see the added components)?

If there are multiple different ways to add AC, which ones are the best.

Thanks in advance!
Since you have a series 3 car, installing an A/C system from another series 3 car would work, and work very well. You do need to be careful about getting a system from a series 3 that has the same dash layout as yours, however.

There aren't any aftermarket kits for series 3 cars, so it isn't like you have any choices. The last aftermarket kits that I saw were in the mid-seventies, and they went away because Alfa started providing A/Cs for the Spiders.

As far as the cost, well, I have mixed feelings about this... Just about every Spider that I have seen with "working A/C" actually has A/C that is not even close to spec and is in need of a new compressor. When that point is reached, it will take serious $$ to bring the A/C system up to spec. Thus, unless a different car truly has a good A/C system, the expense is going to be up there no matter which approach you take. What would it cost to bring a Spider with A/C already installed up to spec? Easily $1k minimum, because you will have to replace key components. What would it cost to upgrade yours? Probably $2k.

Either way, if done by an Alfa mechanic who knows A/C systems, the installation should be seamless. More important however, the A/C should freeze you out of the car. Yes, it should. This subject has been discussed on the BB several times a few years back, and owners like myself have chimed in to explain how well these systems work, when they are up to spec.

I bought my '84 Spider new, so I knew from day 1 the capabilities of the A/C that came in the car. Back then, my girlfriend and my mom always used to complain about how cold the car would get, and it wasn't even at the maximum setting. (In fact, comments were always made about how there wasn't any difference between our German cars and the Spider, and it didn't help the identity of my pride and joy when someone told my mom that a Spider is essentially all Bosch parts.) In 2005 I had to replace my compressor and also decided it was time to convert to a modern, environmentally friendly substitute for R-12, and I did, with excellent results.

Both my '84 and '87 Spiders have A/C, and I drive them quite a bit, even on long trips. While I drive with the top down most of the time, I find that it is very useful and much more enjoyable when I can take a 12 hour trip with the A/C on. Not to mention that in a summer downpour A/C is a real gift, and my wife certainly appreciates having an option that doesn't limit her to either the wind blown look or an extended sauna experience.

As you consider A/C do keep in mind as well that the cause of failure is usually lack of use. A/Cs need to be run throughout the year in order to keep operating up to spec. When the system is not run, the oil seal dries out, breaks away, and the cooling gas escapes until a new oil seal forms with use. Thus, an A/C that is only run in the summer time will loose oil and colling gas every season. To avoid issues, by the 1990's car manufacturers had adjusted their systems to ensure that the A/C operates when other vehicle systems are turned on. (The Alfa 164 models do this.) So, if you do install an A/C system in your Graduate, make sure you run it often, or at least top off the oil and cooling gas as needed.

Best regards,
 

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I believe all AC systems were added by the dealers on S3 Spiders.
Nope. At least from the facelift in 1986, all Veloces and Quadrifoglios had factory installed air, and it was a factory option on Graduates. I've never heard of a dealer installed A/C option. As tightly as the factory A/C bits are packaged in on a Spider I wouldn't want to try a retrofit. And this coming from a guy who added A/C to his '67 Super.

-Jason
 

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More important however, the A/C should freeze you out of the car.
This is true. The factory A/C in good condition works very well, in spite of what you may be told by someone selling a car with nonfunctional / semifunctional A/C.
 

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First, look at the engine block below the distributor. If there are no unused tapped holes in the side of the block, and no unused trapped hole in the "ledge" of the oil pan, then you do not have an engine which is compatable for the A/C compressor mount and you wold have to change out the engine first. That alone shoots the whole idea down from jump street.

Robert Hill in Memhis, TN
 

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Nope. At least from the facelift in 1986, all Veloces and Quadrifoglios had factory installed air, and it was a factory option on Graduates. I've never heard of a dealer installed A/C option. As tightly as the factory A/C bits are packaged in on a Spider I wouldn't want to try a retrofit. And this coming from a guy who added A/C to his '67 Super.

-Jason
Absolutely correct... A/C was installed at the factory. In fact, pre-1986 cars have different shaped lower consoles, as these have the molded sides that hold A/C vents. Had a dealer been doing this then the dealer would have had to change lower consoles, and not to mention that the A/C installation would require full removal of the dash...

Furthermore, when Spiders were sold new, there was no such thing as a choice of A/C equipment or any other "optional" equipment. Your choices where whatever the dealer got from the factory. The fact that A/C was optional only meant there could or could not be an extra item, with its associated cost, listed in the window sticker of the new car. I know this well because in 1984 I was specifically looking for a black Spider with tan interior and no A/C, as I did not want to pay the extra $$ for the A/C. Well, I ended up having no choice but to buy one with A/C. Wasn't real happy at that time (much younger, of course), but quickly grew to appreciate the extra $$ as money well spent!

Best regards,
 

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First, look at the engine block below the distributor. If there are no unused tapped holes in the side of the block, and no unused trapped hole in the "ledge" of the oil pan, then you do not have an engine which is compatable for the A/C compressor mount and you wold have to change out the engine first. That alone shoots the whole idea down from jump street.

Robert Hill in Memhis, TN
Hi Robert,

That's not correct... A/C is not an "engine" feature and there is no such thing as Spider engine blocks with A/C and engine blocks without A/C... The A/C compressor is located in exactly the same spot as the SPICA pump is located in the series 2 Spiders. All you need for the compressor is the bracket. For a pro Alfa mechanic, this is not an issue...

Best regards,
 

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Nope. At least from the facelift in 1986, all Veloces and Quadrifoglios had factory installed air, and it was a factory option on Graduates. I've never heard of a dealer installed A/C option. As tightly as the factory A/C bits are packaged in on a Spider I wouldn't want to try a retrofit. And this coming from a guy who added A/C to his '67 Super.

-Jason
Actually. my '87 Veloce is a non-A/C car (although I agree absolutely that A/C was not a dealer-installed option). I wish they'd also left off the power windows, but that's another topic.

FWIW, John Ortakales (the guy who makes those clutch pivot pins) added A/C to his '71 Spider, but he used to build parts for Space Shuttles, so he's not your average home mechanic.
 

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Actually. my '87 Veloce is a non-A/C car (although I agree absolutely that A/C was not a dealer-installed option). I wish they'd also left off the power windows, but that's another topic.
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As was mine.
Further, the dealer's brochure I have for 1987 show A/C as "standard" for the Quadrifolio, and "optional" for the Veloce and Graduate.
 

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Nope. At least from the facelift in 1986, all Veloces and Quadrifoglios had factory installed air, and it was a factory option on Graduates. I've never heard of a dealer installed A/C option. As tightly as the factory A/C bits are packaged in on a Spider I wouldn't want to try a retrofit. And this coming from a guy who added A/C to his '67 Super.

-Jason
I stand corrected, my bad. Not dealer installed.
 

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First, look at the engine block below the distributor. If there are no unused tapped holes in the side of the block, and no unused trapped hole in the "ledge" of the oil pan, then you do not have an engine which is compatable for the A/C compressor mount and you wold have to change out the engine first. That alone shoots the whole idea down from jump street.

Robert Hill in Memhis, TN
Right. Also, of course, as mentioned before, you must have the proper tubing/ducts/vent openings in the dash. You must have much patience with putting in a whole ac system. But, it is not the case that the system will necessarily cost you big bucks. The system I bought came with ducts and all. Perfectly usable! Also, dont forget, you can return any part to any of those salvage dealers. Youre out only some UPS fee. Small gamble. Ue all new o rings. purge out system with brake cleaner/acetone. Use ester oil wwwwwwwwwwwwhich is compatable with any refrigerant.

I bought components from an old 87 spider- from car-part.com. Cheap. BUT, dont gamble on the compressor. that should be obtained new/reman from a reputable supplier. Sanden 508's, I believe. Also, dont be afraid to use ES 12a as a refrigerant- way easier to install, but dont smoke!!
 
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