Tropical Heat Wave

July 9th, 2010 by canadianpontiacguy

Tuesday marked Ottawa Ontario Canada’ s second day of a heat wave anticipated to last until today (Friday July 9).

The mercury hit 95 degrees, smashing the previous record set in 1946. Add in the humidity, and it felt like 115!

As we travelled back and forth to work in our air-conditioned car, I wondered who was the first auto manufacturer to make this wonderful invention generally available to their buyers.

So here is the result of my research!

In 1939, it was Packard that introduced the first automobile air conditioner, a rather awkward affair with no independent shut-off mechanism.

To turn it off, the driver had to stop the car and the engine, open the hood, and disconnect a belt connected to the air conditioning compressor.

Mechanical engineers weren’t long in introducing needed improvements, ultimately making air conditioning on wheels so common that today, even convertibles have it!

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3 Responses to “Tropical Heat Wave”

  1. JerryandMary says:

    Can you imagine? No shutoff switch? Wow, it seems like so long ago. When I was a kid no one I knew had air (if they did I did not know about it) but several had swamp coolers. My Dad’s first car with air was a 1958 Lincoln. Our car had broken down in Baldwin Park Ca. and to the astonishment of the family members we were visiting, my dad (instead of getting the car repaired so we could head home) just bought a new car. We lived near the coast and did not need air but it was nice, none the less.

    Take care,
    Jerry

  2. alwaysakid says:

    Back before the war, Packard was really on top of things automotive. I’ll bet nobody in 1939 would’ve thought that the brand would be gone in less than 20 years. I wonder what happened that caused them to lose their edge.

  3. TerryO says:

    I know what you mean about the heat. I now live in South Central Louisiana. As a military dependant I have lived in Wash. St. and North Dakota so I know what cold is as a comparison.

    I remember the first car my Dad bought us that had AC. We were on vacation in the New Orleans area visiting my Grand Parents. He was a career military man serving in the US Army and the USAF from 1946 until 1967 so we were not well financed. It was a 1966 Impala and man was that a dependable cruiser we drove across the country in up to Grand Forks AFB.
    I know what you mean about the heat. Since 1987 I have lived here in South Central Louisiana and I work in the Gulf of Mexico. As a military dependant I have lived in Wash. St. and North Dakota so I know what cold is as a comparison.
    I remember the first car my Dad bought us that had AC. We were on vacation in the New Orleans area visiting my Grand Parents. He was a career military man serving in the US Army and the USAF from 1946 until 1967 so we were not well financed. It was a brand new 1966 Impala. Man was that a dependable cruiser which we drove across the country up to Grand Forks AFB. We made the trip down in our 1962 Plymouth Belvidere. A six cylinder standard shift with no AC or power anything. The trip back was an amazing experience in comfort I still remember today.

    I looked it up and found that by the end of World War II, Packard was in excellent financial condition but suffered from several management mistakes that became visible as time went on.

    I love the recent changes to Motortopia.

    Terry O.

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