This month, we're revisiting the Keisler Project Maximum Overdrive '65 coupe to cover a Vintage Air in-dash air-conditioning system install. In our previous stories on this Vette, we talked about the virtues of the General Motors Ram jet fuel-injected crate engine coupled to Keisler's Tremec five-speed conversion. The Ram Jet and five-speed clearly brought this souped-up midyear into the 21st century. All we needed now for total creature comfort would be a dependable A/C system that looked like it was factory installed.
The Vintage Air A/C system was our choice because of its direct fit and easy installation. We also incorporated the Vintage Air Frontrunner accessory-drive system so the A/C compressor could be directly connected to the Vintage Air A/C system. The Vintage Air kit is a well-thought-out evaporator and heater assembly that fits in place with no cutting whatsoever. As part of the system, we would have A/C, heat, and a defroster from the new Vintage Air assembly that uses the original dash-mounted heater controls. How cool is that? Most midyear owners start to be concerned when they see any type of cutting or drilling tools whizzing away on their pride and joy. There is only one additional 11/42-inch hole necessary for an evaporator drain that is placed in the floorpan on the passenger side; that is the extent of any cutting or drilling on the original fiberglass.
The complete installation kit comes with an evaporator/heater assembly that allows the A/C-heater hoses to come through the original heater-core opening for a clean install. Their use of custom-fabricated high side and discharge aluminum lines show the dedication to detail that makes the kit look seamless once installed. All you need to add is refrigerant to finish the install as all the necessary hardware is included. The concise instructions make the install relatively simple, but you will need someone with A/C experience to evacuate the system and charge it after assembly. Installation time varies, but in most cases can be completed in a couple of Saturdays while not rushing the job. While the original heater pieces are out, the firewall can be cleaned up and any missing insulation replaced to help the cooling and avoid noise infiltration.
Don't forget about your cooling system. Overheating will cause higher-than-expected A/C outlet temperatures. If you decide to use an electric cooling fan, Vintage Air has switches to install in the system to control the fan with A/C pressures for precise cooling control.
The Vintage Air A/C system works much better than even the factory-installed A/C systems because of their high-airflow rate and more efficient cooling designed for R-134A refrigerants.
Once installed, the system worked well to keep us cool on a west Texas June afternoon sitting in traffic. What a difference the car is with a superior A/C system in the car. Now, the miles go by a lot easier thanks to all the upgrades, making the Keisler Maximum Overdrive '65 Corvette truly a new-age Corvette.