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How much would it cost to install air conditioning in a 1966 Volkswagen Beetle?

December 24th, 2010 · No Comments

There were factory AC packages that were sold for the beetle, but did not work well or sell well because
1) They overworked an engine that was just about right for moving the car and the passengers but not for driving a compressor.
2) Mileage tanked on hot days
3) The VW lacked sufficient interior insulattion to KEEP the cold in.
Bottom line, you can plan on an early engine death if you even manage to get one installed.. Roll down the windows and use the vent wings.

- It is possible to install to a/c on the Beetle, way back when a couple of companies DPD and Fridgeking made kits to install on VW Beetles.
The factory also offered a kit for the dealers to install. The problem is that there is limited space to install the compressor and low horsepower to drive the compressor. The kits and factory approved kit used a smaller than average compressor to allow for space issues.
Sadly, Fridgeking and DPD are both long out of business and parts are impossible to find for these vintage units, however, todays more compact rotorary compressor allows for install on this engine.
It will be expensive to do; I don’t know of any “assembled kit” for this unit, but companies that do vintage a/c should be able to make something up for you. It will be, as was the original units was, a hang on recirculation unit, not a “reheat” unit as used in todays intergrated heater/ac units.
I’m not an expert as to trying estimate what such a unit would cost, but I’d bet that you could easily spend between $1000-2000 or more to have a custom a/c unit installed on your vehicle.
As one of the previous writers has pointed out, the a/c unit drains the motor of a lot of power, so I’d recommend that you use the a/c unit only on modified or larger engined models. Big bore kits and other aftermarket parts can improve the performance, while still delivering acceptable milage. Remember that your engine if stock, will take about 20 seconds or so to reach 60 from a standing start, with the a/c on, it will be even slower. Today the slowest new car sold on the market, the Smart Car, will go from 0 to 60 in 14.0 seconds, or almost 1/3 faster than a stock 1966 Beetle.

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