Last time, Hot Rods by Dean was busy installing the engine bay portion of a Vintage Air system on Bill Verboon’s 1963 Corvette split-window. We used the Vintage Air Front Runner system to mount to the LS engine, making this a modern version of the famed Corvette Z06 first produced in 1963. With the alternator, compressor, power steering pump and condenser mounted we were well on our way to having a very cool Corvette. We also mounted the drier and the pre-bent lines from Vintage Air into the engine bay.
Now, team Dean will complete the installation beginning with the mounting of the evaporator unit, ducts and associated controls. As we mount these units we will be routing wires and hoses from inside the Corvette to the engine bay. Working inside any Corvette means tight spaces and according to how limber you are and your overall measurements you may find removing the seats to be worth the effort, particularly the driver side. The seats are only bolted to the floor in the front, and then they slide forward out of a rear retainer. Of course, completing the installation with the seats in place is no problem, and we chose to leave the seats in the car.
Mounting the air conditioning in a vintage Corvette is simplified by using one of Vintage Air’s SureFit heat and air conditioning systems. This is a complete designed and engineered heat and air-conditioning system that installs in the C2 Corvette with a minimal amount of modifications to the car (similar kits are available for C1 and C3 Corvettes, too). In many cases, factory holes are used for mounting and in the end you have a completely modern climate control system that will provide real defrosters and enough cooling power to keep even a Corvette split-window coupe comfortable.
Stamped steel brackets mount the evaporator unit while the A/C ducts mount under the dash. When you first unpack the large box from Vintage Air and spread out the parts it may appear a bit overwhelming. That stress quickly evaporates when you begin to read the directions that walk you through the process step by step. We like to just sit down and read the entire directions before we begin work so we have a broad view of what is involved. After that, we begin by following the instructions line by line, even checking off the boxes as we complete each task. It really is that easy. While it is not necessary, a helper can save you some crawling in and out of the car to pull hoses, find dropped bolts and all the things that happen when you are laying down under the dashboard of a car.
Of course, the process begins by removing things. Beginning under the hood, drain the radiator and remove any original heater hoses. If your car has a radiator expansion tank remove it at this time, it will be reinstalled later. Next, disconnect the battery, and if the battery is located on the passenger side remove it from the car. Remove the OEM blower assembly from the firewall and put it in a pile marked “swap meet.” We already had the hood off the car for the condenser installation and it remained off for the extra working room.
Inside the car, the original heater and distribution ducts are removed and destined for the swap meet pile. Remove the radio, clock and heater controls, they will be reinstalled later. The OEM passenger-side kick panel and fresh air panel control are permanently removed. While you will reuse the fasteners, the glovebox will be replaced. The center console lower trim and the center floor console must also be removed. Bagging and tagging all the fasteners and parts will save a lot of time during reassembly. It also always pays to save every fastener and part until the project is completed, in several cases original fasteners are reused. With all the original “stuff” removed we can now begin installing the Vintage Air SureFit system.
Our final bit of advice is to simply take your time and work methodically, and you will complete the Vintage Air installation in fine style. When we installed this unit it was apparent this is a well thought out system that fit the car perfectly. We didn’t modify or change anything, it all installed perfectly.
With that in mind, follow along with our photos to see how the kit fit into Bill Verboon’s 1963 Corvette split-window coupe. With a similar effort you can be as cool as Bill, and that’s pretty darn cool.
01. Installing Vintage Air in your C2 Corvette results in a neat and tidy cockpit with heat and air that appears to be a factory installation.
02. In our last installment, we installed the Vintage Air Front Runner on the modern Z06 engine and mounted the condenser in front of the radiator. Everything fit just fine.
03. We had a couple of minor jobs left under the hood like connecting this big 4-gauge wire to the 170-amp alternator. This professional splice is made easy by using the crimping tool included in the kit. Shrink wrap seals the deal.
04. The main feed wire connects to the side of the polished aluminum alternator and the weatherproof boot protects the connection.
05. The other bit of unfinished business was connecting the power steering lines to the power steering pump that was included with the Vintage Air Front Runner system.
06. With our work done under the hood it was time to remove the original heater, controls, ducts, glovebox and other assorted parts. Save everything as some pieces will be reused, others are destined for the swap meet. Here, the center console is temporarily devoid of controls.
07. Likewise, the passenger side now exhibits a large void once filled by the factory heater. The SureFit series A/C unit from Vintage Air fills this void perfectly.
08. The SureFit kit includes a new defroster duct. The duct bolts in place with the stock fasteners and adapts to the Vintage Air duct hose. The C2 Corvette employs a single, central defroster duct.
09. This is the defroster duct installed in the car. Note the boltholes are offset in the duct; the holes go closest to the firewall. This, along with other amazing details, are covered in the directions. Read them fully; it is time well spent.
10. The SureFit kit includes three panels, the panel on the left blocks off the OEM heater opening in the firewall while the other panels route the heat and A/C hoses into the engine.
11. The pre-drilled panels also include rubber grommets to protect the hoses and provide a seal between the engine bay and the interior of the car.
12. You will have to supply your own tube of silicone sealant for the two firewall panels, a small price to pay for a perfect seal.
13. The block-off panel that covers the original heater opening also has a hole and grommet for wiring. This is a very well-engineered kit.
14. The heater and A/C hoses will now pass through the original passenger-side fresh air vent. The top tab must be cut off before the panel and hoses can be installed. The driver-side fresh air vent remains functional.
15. The hoses are routed through the proper holes, as per the instructions. The hose fittings that attach to the evaporator were already crimped onto the hose.
16. The hoses are routed through the former fresh air vent and into the engine bay before being attached to the evaporator/heater unit.
17. The heater hose, heater hose fittings and electric heater control valve are ready for installation.
18. The heater control valve is installed in the hose running from the intake manifold to the heater core. This is a directional valve so be sure it is installed properly.
19. Since this is a SureFit kit, four simple brackets designed just for C2 Corvettes hold the evaporator in place. All fasteners required for the job are included.
20. All the connections on the evaporator are O-ring sealed. A drop of oil on each O-ring prevents damage during the tightening process. This is a two-wrench operation, hold back on the heater core tubing hex with one wrench and tighten the nut with a second wrench.
21. After we installed the heater hose fittings, the main bracket was installed using the supplied hardware.
22. Here we see the evaporator installed behind the dashboard. Be certain the unit is level so condensation will drain properly. This is a snug fit so it is best to pull the carpet down off the firewall and toeboard area, then simply push the carpet back in place after the unit is installed.
23. All the wiring that connects to the A/C unit and dash controls is a plug-and-play, meaning you simply plug the prewired harness into the unit. Clear instructions illustrate the remainder of the wiring.
24. The A/C and heater outlets offer a completely modern system with air directed to the floor, dash or defroster and the ability to blend temperatures, but these ducts must be installed first.
25. This duct bolts under the steering column using the existing steering column bracket. Simply loosen the two nuts, slide the bracket between the dash brace and the column bracket and retighten the nuts.
26. Here is the driver-side duct installed. Note the two screws in the face of the bracket, this allows for perfect adjustment under the dash.
27. The passenger-side duct is also designed expressly for the C2 Corvette dash. Two 1/8-inch holes must be drilled in the dash brace to mount this louver.
28. Typical of the level of detail found throughout this Vintage Air kit, these side panels have a real factory look but are designed to accept the hoses from the Vintage Air evaporator.
29. The OEM console panels are replaced with these Vintage Air units. The OEM hardware is used to hold the panel in place, but the lower 3/16 hole must be drilled into the console.
30. The driver-side panel is a perfect fit and like the passenger-side, one new hole is drilled and OEM screws hold it in place. These panels can also be painted to match the upholstery.
31. After carefully marking the toeboard, the carpet is cut away and a hole is drilled through the floor for the drain tube. This hole should be approximately 1 inch lower than the bottom of the evaporator.
32. On the driver-side panel the temperature knob is installed. If your C2 has a power antenna, the instruction sheet includes a template to locate and install that switch.
33. The OEM glovebox is replaced with this somewhat shallower unit. Sacrificing a small amount of glovebox space for a cool cabin is a small price to pay.
34. With the new Vintage Air controllers back in the center console, things are looking like a factory installation.
35. Here is the completed installation on the passenger side looking up from the rocker panel. It all fits like a glove and makes for a clean installation.
36. The driver-side outlet is also unobtrusive and clean looking. Careful routing of the duct hoses keeps them up and out of sight.
37. Back under the hood, Hot Rods by Dean made the final connections to the compressor and are ready to charge the system. Pulling a vacuum on the system is mandatory for the first charge and serves as a good way to check the system for any potential leaks.
38. This is the view from the passenger-side seat. As you can see, the A/C unit is well up and under the dash, preserving legroom in the process.
39. Hot Rods by Dean has it all buttoned up and you would never know the major change that has been made inside the car. Now, Bill Verboon’s split-window will be cooler than ever.