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hdkeno's 1969 Firebird

2023 March
of the Month

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A/C Install

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Good Morning, Brand new to the forum. I have a '63 Catalina convertible on a transport, will be here this coming Friday. This is one of those rare survivors, 42,000 original miles been garaged its entire life. The story of the older couple that only drove it to church on Sunday, this is the car! It came from Indiana so apparently A/C was not an issue however I live in So. Cal so A/C is not an option. I was assuming that I could take out the existing heater and replace it with an A/C inner and outer unit and then work with aftermarket compressor, condensor, etc. but apparently this is not the case with a '63.  From what research I have done I need to cut out a section of the firewall and replace it with a firewall from an A/C car. THERE WILL BE NO CUTTING AND WELDING ON THIS CAR! So I need to explore other options. Has anyone been through this? Obviously I do not want an under dash unit but would rather install the factory dash outlets when, or if I can find them. I can probably fit a vintage air or hurricane unit up behind the dash but do not have the car so do not know for sure if there is room. As my wife will not get into the car when the sun is up until the dash outlets are spitting snow this is an important issue. I am open to all suggestions. I did a forum search and did not find anything, so if it is there I apologize for revisiting the issue.

On another issue I will be attempting to retain as much of the original period look as possible. Was there ever a rallye style wheel for the Pontiac? I will be doing a 4 wheel disc brake conversion, driving in L.A. traffic I need to be able to stop this tank, so the 8 lug option is out unless someone knows something I don't.

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I read somewhere that someone was making an eight-lug disc conversion but I have not seen anything about it of late, so a regular five-lug 4-wheel disc conversion is still you cheapest route.

Pontiac used different holes/mounts for heater only versus AC and heater cars, thus requiring different holes in the firewall. Any after market system will require you to make the system fit under you dash, drill the necessary cooling hoses through the firewall and run an aftermarket compressor off the engine,  even if you use or install factory looking AC vents. Also you dash controller will change to add the AC option.  That said, AC is well worth it.

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A/C is more than worth it, I have already been informed that no A/C and we will be taking her car unless the sun and the top are both down. She won't get in my SL because it is too hard to crawl out of so I am selling it. In reality It is getting hard for me to crawl up and out of it too, i find myself driving my truck more and more. The Pontiac is the replacement for the SL. That being said I have already found out that the factory A/C in the 63 and I believe the 62 is in the firewall behind the RH inner fender panel Which would require cutting a large hole in the firewall and welding in the appropriate section of an A/C firewall which would require taking too much stuff out to keep from burning it. I have checked into the Hurricane and Vintage Air units and I believe that I can fit either under the dash if I cut the glove box liner way down. The other option would be to find something with an evaporator in the outer housing that can be adapted. I think that I can free up Thursday or Friday to poke around Pick a Part and see if there is something that looks promising. The engine is coming out because the heads need to be upgraded for unleaded fuel and I will put in new rings and bearings and re-gasket the entire engine at the same time because it does leak. With the engine and RH inner fender panel out it will give me lots of room to putz around to see if something can be adapted. If not there is always the aftermarket route. I have not found '63 dash outlets, I found a set of '64's which could be adapted but they are so pitted that I do not believe that they are salvageable and the 64 apparently did not have a center outlet. For the time being one of the aftermarket suppliers has an under dash set that will suffice until I find a good set of 63's 

Re: the brakes. It seems that I read somewhere in this or another forum about the 8 lug disc brake adapter but if it is out there it is a closely guarded secret. So far I have only found one supplier that even has 4 wheel disc conversion, which leaves the problem of what wheels. I thought about the rally wheels but I do not remember seeing them on anything that has the bigger bolt pattern. The only thing I ever remember seeing them on were vehicles with the Chevy bolt pattern. A chromed reversed wheel with narrow white walls would look era correct but is there anyone that still does them? For the time being I am replacing all the wheel cylinders and the master cylinder and will drive carefully until I decide on what wheels. I just can't see aftermarket alloys on it.

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Here are a list of Pontiac salvage yards that might have some of the key parts you are looking for:

East West Auto Parts   www.pontiacpart.com

Frank's Pontiac Parts http://www.frankspontiacparts.com/

Indiana Pontiacs LLC https://www.facebook.com/groups/481412125313585/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE

Desert Valley Auto Parts  http://www.dvap.com/

Your disc brake conversion kit (which ever one you go with) will dictate your 5-lug bolt pattern. From there you can select your wheels. It could be a Chevy/GM bolt-pattern, The nice thing is most wheels these days can be had in nearly any bolt pattern. Cragar and Keystone brand wheels are still available new, along with TorqThrust and Halibrand look-alikes. Diamond tires still has white walls available. Also I think Coker or someone else still has wide white walls.

There is a re-lining server for the 8-lug drums if you need it: J&G  Drum Relining in McHenry Il.   jgrelining.com

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Frosty, Thanks for the information. The brakes are on a back burner right now, I am posterior deep in the engine right now. Finally got it out and on the engine stand This was a whole lot easier when my dad still had a fully equipped auto repair shop, I am too da... old to be crawling around under anything on jack stands anymore. 

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I would rather be driving the Pontiac and having the cleaning lady do the housekeeping.

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