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Rear view of Jaguar classic car driving in the countryside

Summer is the perfect time to take your classic out for a spin and enjoy the sunshine. But no one looks forward to the prospect of trying to manage uncomfortably hot temperatures in a vehicle with old, or non-existent, cooling – prompting many owners to look at the options for a classic car air conditioning upgrade. 

Drivers should not have to be sat in their car, endlessly waiting for the car to cool down to tolerable conditions – this type of restriction goes against the freedom of enjoyment that many people want, and expect, when they opt to own a much-loved classic car.  

But what are the alternatives? Drive around with the windows open all the time? Or have an off-the-shelf modern kit installed that can diminish the signature style of your vehicle? 

Many people don’t realise that a bespoke classic car air conditioning upgrade, with modern performance and authentic styling, is an option for them. For those unfamiliar with the options, here’s a rundown of what you should be looking for when considering how you can cool your classic in the heat: 


One thing to look out for is a system that has been developed for all climates, and has been tested in both hot and cold. There are challenges that come from dealing with older vehicles, so working with restoration experts is crucial when dealing with classics, as they understand how to properly integrate an air conditioning system into the existing design, ensuring it fits seamlessly with the rest of the vehicle. 


While there are lots of aftermarket heating and air conditioning systems on the market, it doesn’t mean they are the right option for everyone. They can be large, heavy, and not in keeping with the style and aesthetics of the vehicle – something which is arguably more important for classic car owners than other drivers. You need to find something that is in keeping with the original model and style. 


Ultimately, you want to make sure that whatever system you choose works. And this means it gets your car cooled to a comfortable temperature quickly, and discreetly, without being too loud or aggressive – there’s no reason you should settle for this, so you should be aiming for a system with the high performance of a modern air conditioning system.  


A classic car needs special treatment, with a system that can be expertly adapted to the complexity and condition of the vehicle. But with any upgrades on a classic vehicle, you need to consider how you are changing the originality, which is important to some. Finding a solution that can be reversed, if needed, could be a strong option to consider if this is something you may want to factor in for a potential resale. 

Classic car air conditioning


The biggest recommendation we have when it comes to tackling any upgrade or restoration is finding the support of an expert who you can have a conversation with and talk through any challenges or considerations you may need to make for your car.  

We know more than most that upgrades are not always straightforward when it comes to classic cars, not only due to the age, but also the condition that it may be in. Whatever changes you consider making, it’s important to be involved in the process, and know there is someone you can pick up the phone to ask any questions if needed. 

Here at Clayton Classics we design bespoke systems, with original tooling, to help hundreds of classic car owners upgrade their classic and enjoy their car all year round. Clayton has a legacy of over 100 years in providing heating, cooling and air conditioning solutions, and for over 20 years has specialised in doing this for an increasing range of classic cars. With all upgrades and restorations, there is an equal focus on performance, aesthetics and quality – as well as the option to reverse any changes to keep original features if needed. 

If you want to talk to one of our classic car experts about your vehicle, whether you want to upgrade, restoration or just have an inspection, get in touch

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