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How Cars Were Air Conditioned 60 Years Ago

car cooler on 1950 studebakerOld car adOld photo of car cooler unmounted

We don’t service automotive air conditioners, but recently  I came across a couple of items I thought were interesting.  A  1950 Studebaker photo with an evaporative cooling unit in the side window along with the flyer promoting the same product.  The flyer boasts, “Now Continuous Cool Fresh Air inside your car in the hottest weather”.  You can see the airline car cooler mounted on the road side front window of the Studebaker.  The way it worked was when the car was moving forward, air flowing through the unit turned a drum with a cloth wrapped around it in and out of a water pan. This evaporated the water cooling the air a few degrees.  There were a few problems; it only worked in desert like climates, you had to add water  (one gallon would cool for about 100 miles), it only cooled air a  few degrees, and it didn’t cool at all if the car was stopped.   It had one advantage in that it increased the humidity in the car making occupants more comfortable.

old airlineThe brochure ends with “SINCE THE WAR UNTOLD MILLIONS HAVE BEEN ASKING FOR CAR COOLERS. Our greatly enlarged factory is now hopeful of being able to fill the bulk of these orders . . . “  A friend of mine recounts when he was 10 years old he rode with the family in that Studebaker across the Utah desert in July with this contraption beautifying the car and hanging out the window.  Finally his father gave up and decided to do the remainder of the trip to Los Angeles at night when the desert is a lot cooler.  

Nashville would never have become the thriving place it is today without air conditioning in our homes, our cars, and our workplaces.  The evaporative cooler would not have done it in Nashville.

Click photos to enlarge.