Vintage Air versus Classic Auto Air

I’m looking at air conditioning options for my 67 Standard, which did originally have AC but is currently missing many of the parts.

There seems to be two options:
Vintage Air Surefit 951171 for Mercury Cougar
Classic Auto Air Perfect Fit System for Mercury Cougar

Price is basically the same. They both get rid of the vacuum controls and use a Sanden compressor.

Is there any benefit to one versus the other?

I noticed the Vintage Air site says something about a replacement molded glovebox with reduced capacity and possibly interfering with the stock radio and speakers. Is this actually an issue or just a disclaimer they put on all their kits?

Thanks for any help on this.

The wifes 67 XR-7 has factory air. I upgraded to the 134 kit & had to buy a few OE parts ( bracket & idler pulley). Used all the original insides & flushed the box (evaporator) out w/ a special spray. I bought kit for about $800 plus any parts. They have a good selection to get your system together.

Don’t got w/ a “one size fits all” you will regret it!

I’m a big proponent of Vintage Air. They basically invented aftermarket AC for the Street Rod and Classic vehicle world. In other words, they were the first to do it and have been improving and expanding their product line constantly ever since.

With that said, and due to my loyalty to VA, I’ll confess to not having any experience with Classic Auto Air. It has been my belief that their “specialty” is improving the factory systems that Classic vehicles came with. But I could be wrong if your link is showing that they are offering complete aftermarket kits now.

Back to VA. 15 years ago I installed a VA Generation II Super Cooler system in the Hero that came with factory air. At the time they offered the Sure -Fit kit for a Mustang, which I suppose would have easily work on a Cougar, but then it was still completely vacuum operated for air direction control. I wanted the electronic servo control which was only available on the Generation II universal kits at that time. They’ve since upgraded their line to Generation IV although I haven’t researched what differs between Generation II and IV.

It is designed to work exclusively with 134a refrigerant.

Any Car Crafter knows like Bill refers to above, that a Universal Kit universally doesn’t fit anything. You have to make it work for your application. I have never done any type of AC work prior to this. But I found the system easy to install, the instructions were very clear and detailed and the tech support was first class. I have no doubt that applies to all of their systems even today.

Since my car is full custom to begin with, I liked the universal kit’s flexibility that allowed me to alter the installation to fit my needs and appearance under hood. I was also able to hide some unsightly items such as the dryer element. Of course, this required me to have to cut all my hoses to length, add the proper connections, and then have them professionally crimped as I don’t own the proper tool. I installed it in phases as I was building my car. So it took a little longer. If you’re looking for something that you might install yourself in a weekend, then the Sure-Fit kit would be a better way to go.

I actually think I could have kept the original glovebox tray with this system had I not wanted to hide the air-ride suspension controls and one of the stereo amps in that location already. So I have no glove box storage whatsoever.

I wrote a tech story following the install of my system. Some of the links in it for other alternative products may no longer be valid. But the installation of my system might give you an idea of how I went about it. Here is a link to it:

By the way, you don’t have to go through Jegs or Summit to purchase their stuff. I ordered directly from VA.

Thanks for the tip on Original Air. At this point I know I would have to replace the vacuum tank as well as two of the actuators, the AC switch, the temp cable, the hoses and the condensor and dryer. The evaporator is an unknown as I haven’t had a good way to test it yet. I think it’s going to have to be all or nothing because if I start running it with some new and some 51-year-old parts, it’s just going to be frustrating as the old parts continue to fail.

Leaning towards the Vintage Air Gen IV Surefit for the Cougar, but I’ve got a couple more weeks to ponder it before I put in the order.

Did you ever make a decision? Did you get a full system or just part? If you removed the heater box, were you able to do that without removing the whole dash (Vintage Air’s instructions imply that you can remove the heater box only removing the glove box and center console)?

I’m considering a complete system by taking apart the dash would be a pain!

Curious on this as well. I was hoping to use mostly stock components other than it would be nice to be able to use the 134 instead of the r-12
You don’t have to remove the whole dash to get the heater/ac box out. Glove box and console a must. There is also a dash panel reinforcement rod that runs from cowl to bottom of dash. Also can’t see doing it with out at least the passengers seat out if not both seats. When I put mine up in there I hadn’t put the seats in yet and it is nice to be able to stretch out :slight_smile:

Just an FYI decarguy, the metal dash frame in a 67-68 Cougar is welded in place so removing it is not really an option. You can remove the heater box by pulling the glovebox and the console, if your car has one. If no console then remove the radio. If you are going to replace the hose going to the left side heater controls/AC vent you will need to remove the instrument cluster.

Randy Goodling
CCOA #95

What parts are missing? It could be more cost effective to get those parts instead of doing a refit.

Thanks guys. Don did a video where he took a '69 dash apart to get to the heater box. Guess the '68 heater box is easier to get to. That’s a relief…although I am under no illusion that getting the heater box out will be easy.

Still not sure whether to restore original box or go with an a Vintage Air box with modern controls. My evaporator coil does not seem to hold a vacuum so it may have to be replaced or repaired if I keep my original box.

I still haven’t pulled the trigger on a system yet. I switched to a serpentine belt system from CVF racing and added the Sanden compressor as a placeholder, but then once the engine was running well I had to tackle some transmission issues. Then I dropped the car off to to get a new headliner installed, and the upholstery guy was super backed up, so I haven’t seen it in six weeks. I’ll either order the rest of the Vintage Air system through CVF or order a Classic system through Classic Mustang of Houston. Probably just go with whichever is cheaper. I just have to let the budget recover a bit.

In my opinion it is a lot easier to get at the heater box in a 69-70 over a 67-68. If you want to get carried away when doing a 69-70 you can remove the dash pad and then take out the complete lower metal dash piece. With those out of the way the heater box is real easy to get at. On a 67-8 though the metal dash frame is welded in place, you cannot easily remove it. That means that once you remove the nuts holding the heater box in place you will only have so much room to pull the box away from the firewall before you are hitting the metal dash. Then you need to twist and turn it just so in order to get it to come out from under the dash. Plus while twisting and turning you need to be careful not to break off the drain hose nipple.

If you do decide to remove the heater box I would recommend separating the blower motor housing from the rest of the heater box and removing each piece separately.

Randy Goodling
CCOA #95

I thought the Vintage Air system was more compact so it installed a lot easier.
Still have to pull the original out…

VA sells different sizes of their Universal units: Super Cooler, Compact and Mini. Their tech guy recommended the Super Cooler (largest unit) for mine (68) due to the amount of glass the first generation Cats have. I felt it was pretty equivalent to the Stock unit. If anything it’s slightly larger. I had to get creative when installing it.

I tell people, if I were to do it over again, I’d go with the Compact. It will install easier, and the performance of the Super Cooler is almost overkill for my car which is insulated if I lived on the equator and also has extra tinting on the glass. I’m sure the Compact would be adequate.

Here’s a strange question, but does anyone know what parts are different between the 67-68 Mustang Vintage Air Gen IV Surefit Kit with Factory Air and the 67-68 Cougar Gen IV Surefit Kit with Factory Air? The instructions are identical and labeled for both, and I keep going through the packing lists, etc. but I can’t figure out which parts are different. ( )

This is only an issue because I’ve gotten a substantial amount of Amazon Gift Cards through an incentive program at work, and the 67-68 Mustang kit is available on Amazon. It would actually save me more than half the cost of the kit just to order the Mustang kit with gift cards and then purchase the specific Cougar parts separately from Vintage Air. Unfortunately, I’m having a heck of a time figuring out what is different, and the customer service guy said, “I’m not sure, you’ll have to check the manuals.”

Hoping someone here might have installed both and know the difference.

I cannot speak about the aftermarket A/C systems but the only thing that I can think of that is different between a Mustang and a Cougar with OEM parts would be the center dash vent.

Randy Goodling
CCOA #95

Good info, Cathouse. I was thinking it might be something with hose-routing in the front for the headlights since the Cougars need more clearance, but I can’t find any difference in the parts lists.

I have a 1969 Convertible which never had air.
I’m leaning toward the Classic Auto Air.
When I spoke to them they seemed to have experience with installing it into an actual cougar and had work arounds for the cougar as the kit is really a Mustang kit.
I haven’t actually made the buy yet, still doing the research.
Good luck,

What’s wrong with an OEM Ford setup? You can always find the parts you need and know they will fit properly. My concern is where will Vintage Air or Classic Auto Air be in 5, 10 years from now.


Vintage Air has been around since the 70s. They pioneered aftermarket AC systems for Street Rods, and Classic cars. They were the first to do it and have been improving and expanding their product offerings ever since. So I’m confident they’ll be here 5 or 10 or even 30 years from now.

I understand. However Classic Auto Air has changed from what they used to be. Now out of Dallas TX and they were out of Tampa, FL when I needed OEM partsfor my Cougar.

I don’t think Ford OEM style parts will run out anytime soon.