QOTD: Can You Take the Heat?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Try as I might, I can’t recall exactly which vehicle delivered air conditioned motoring to my family for the first time. Growing up, our vehicles were of the modest variety, and luxuries like ice-cold A/C didn’t find their way into our household until I has a teenager. Too hot? Jeez, maybe you should roll down a window. Too cold? Listen, this is what clothes are for. Bundle up.

It’s possible the first car I drove after receiving my learner’s permit (called a G1 up here in Canadia) was the vehicle in question, though it’s also possible the feature bit the dust somewhere between the time the ’83 Olds left the factory and when it turned up in our driveway in 1992. Come to think of it, I know it wasn’t operational, as I wouldn’t have cursed those fixed rear panes and little pop-out vent windows had I not been soaking through my shirt at the time.

That slider bar on the dash was just a tease, nothing else.

Anyway, you learn to live with it, but age and the proliferation of creature comforts have a way of turning any man or woman soft. Can you live without A/C in June of 2018?

I certainly can. I’m living it now. Only two of the eight vehicles I’ve owned came with functional A/C, and I only attempted busting out the chill in my beloved Camry once, on a particularly sweltering summer’s day in Montreal. A mildly cool breeze wafted from the vents, never to be replicated at a later date.

In my previous car, I can honestly say I used the A/C maybe four times in four years. Out of force of habit, I usually forgot it was there, reflexively taking the 4/60 approach to heat reduction (four windows down, 60 mph). But Steph, you say, you’re a Canadianite who has to break the ice in the toilet with an axe handle after lifting the lid! A/C is as useless as a life raft in the desert!

That’s only for half the year, wiseguy. Checking the weather forecast for this Sunday’s national fête shows a high of 97 degrees, or 117 with the humidity. Clearly, some front seat Scotchguarding is in order before the weekend rolls around, as I’ve committed myself to a number of driving duties. I’ll admit that a little black A/C button at the bottom of the center stack would be a godsend at times like this.

Many of you will see worse heat in the week(s) ahead, and still more have to suffer oppressive temps long past the time us northerners trade our tanks for tuques. Are any of you still driving a vehicle lacking this wonder of the modern age, or have you passed the point where A/C went from being a luxury to a necessity?

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Rigaudon Rigaudon on Jun 29, 2018

    I love A/C, don't leave home without it! Growing up, only Cadillacs and Lincolns had it. We certainly didn't. But I did love both the little vent windows you could pivot to send a stream of air right into your face and those ankle vents. You pulled the knob under the dash and it opened those up. No A/C back in those days, but quite a torrent of air moving in the car as long as you were moving... My 5th car was an '83 Accord Hatch. I wanted the base model, but you took what the dealer offered when their allocation came in and paid hundreds over list. I was allocated a LX which had A/C and power steering. I didn't want either, but wanted the car badly so accepted the LX. I loved it from day 1 and have had both in all cars since. In '90 I bought a Miata and saw it had A/C. I asked the dealer why anyone needed A/C in a convertible and he said you'll enjoy it when you're stuck in traffic on a sunny day. He was right. Jump forward to 2012. My son needed a college commuter car. We looked around and liked a Honda Fit. The base model came with A/C, power steering, power mirrors, power windows AND cruise control all standard. Those options defined a luxury car in the 60's and now they are standard in the base model. Times have changed!

  • TDIGuy TDIGuy on Jun 29, 2018

    I seem to recall our family '82 Pontiac Lemans wagon (not brown, but had fake wood paneling) was the first car we had with A/C. My first car with A/C was a '92 Honda Civic. Bought it off the lot, but A/C was a dealer installed option. I remember that one because it only had half a radiator before the A/C was installed. Since then, it became pretty much standard in every car. Could I live without it? Well, it's supposed to be 40C this weekend, so no. Actually in the winter it's very helpful for clearing the windows as well. Didn't realize that until the A/C failed in one car and I had to scrape the *inside* of the windshield on freezing days.

  • Aja8888 Folks, this car is big enough to live in. Dual deal: house and car for $7 large.
  • Astigmatism I don't think tax credits will put me in this league, but if I could swing it, I would 1000% go for a restomod EV Grand Wagoneer: https://www.thedrive.com/news/you-can-buy-an-electric-80s-jeep-grand-wagoneer-for-295000
  • FreedMike I like the looks of the Z, but I'd take the Mustang. V8s are a disappearing breed.
  • Picard234 I can just smell the clove cigarettes and the "oregano" from the interior. Absolutely no dice at any price.
  • Dartdude The Europeans don't understand the American market. That is why they are small players here. Chrysler Group is going to die pretty soon under their control. Europeans have a sense of superiority over Americans that is why the Mercedes merger didn't work out and almost killed Chrysler. Bringing European managers aren't going to help. Just like F1 they want our money. We need Elon Musk to buy out Chrysler, Dodge and Ram from Stellantis.