David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/12/12 2:13 p.m.
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Air-cooled Porsches don't have a reputation for having strong air conditioning, and we'll admit that there's some basis for those rumors. For one, don't forget that this car was designed some 50 years ago. Yes, our car is a 1984 Porsche 911 Carrera, but strip away the later bumpers, the fuel-injected engine and some other details, and you have Ferdinand Porsche's original 901, a car that made it public debut late in 1963.

The Porsche 911 evolved over time, with air conditioning eventually added. To make the system fit, engineers had to work around the original design. As a result, our car features a pair of condensers, one in the decklid's grille plus another tucked behind the front bumper. Then there's the tiny a/c vents found in the dash.

When we purchased our Porsche some three years ago, the a/c actually worked quite well. Color us impressed. Over time, though, its performance faded away. Plus the front condenser's fan stopped working.

Getting the system back to spec was on our to-do list. Since a/c work requires some specialized tools and a bit of related specialized knowledge, we called in an expert: Lou Verdiales at Aero Dynamics, a shop that specializes in Porsches and planes.

The shop is located at the Spruce Creek fly-in community in Port Orange, Florida, and he has done a/c work on many air-cooled Porsches. Since clean, new R12 refrigerant is getting very hard (and expensive) to find, he is updating our system to the newer R134 refrigerant.

First order of business: apply a vacuum to the system and check for leaks. If it passes that step, then the conversion can begin.

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