Classic Car Air Swamp Cooler: Guide & Best Options

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If you are trying to figure out what to do about an a/c in your classic car, swamp coolers keep older cars cool in the summer and provide multiple benefits.

The classic car air swamp cooler is a vintage air conditioning system. It turns warm outside air into cool air. Here are the best classic air car coolers to buy.

  1. The Deluxo Swamp Cooler Kit
  2. Vintage Thermador Car Air Cooler
  3. DoerflerDesigns Classic Car Air Swamp Cooler
  4. Turbokool 2B-0002 Air Swamp Cooler

We have installed and replaced dozens of old classic car air swamp coolers with restored ones in the past. I personally have installed my own, too, so I understand how they work and what to look for when buying one. This guide will explain everything about how they work and list some of the available best options.

Table of Contents


What Is The Classic Car Air Swamp Cooler?

The air swamp cooler is an invention that can keep the classic car cool during the hottest summer days. Developed in the 1930s, this unique air conditioning system uses a fan to draw warm outside air into the engine bay and circulate it around the vehicle.

The combination of moisture and evaporation from a wet sponge cools down the entire interior cabin, allowing you to enjoy a comfortable ride even on the warmest days. This was how older cars kept the interior cool on hot days.

It works as an evaporative cooler to force the hot air outside into the fan and spits it back out inside the vehicle as cool air.

What Are The Best Classic Car Air Swamp Coolers?

Nowadays, a few different models of swamp coolers are available for purchase online, but they are rare. Most models sold today are restored vintage models.

We had trouble finding them, but here's our list of the best options currently for sale.

1. The Deluxo Swamp Cooler Kit

The Deluxo Swamp Cooler Kit
The Deluxo Swamp Cooler Kit

The Deluxo Vintage Style Swamp Cooler can be purchased as a kit or pre-assembled for a slightly higher price. We recommend buying it pre-assembled because of the peace of mind it provides, knowing a professional did it for us.

This cooler is built for a 19”x2” window opening. Ecophage modernized this vintage product for better customizability, lower cost, cleaner air delivery, and a refined chrome finish.

It can also be sold with optional mounting bracket tabs. It’s more likely to stay on the car door for longer with these bracket tabs. They will fold over the rain rail edges for a tighter seal and more secure installation.

They’ll also be sold with a tray and filter. Add water and let it run to start cooling the classic car’s interior on those hot summer days.

2. Vintage Thermador Car Air Cooler

Vintage Thermador Car Air Cooler
Vintage Thermador Car Air Cooler

The Vintage Thermador Car Air Cooler is another Ecophage product with more features and performance but at a heftier price tag. It will fit cars with a 12”x2” window opening.

The design is vintage-inspired, and the material used is durable enough to last for years. Installation is simple and requires no special tools.

The cooler quickly and efficiently cools the entire interior of a vehicle, making even long drives more comfortable. Keeping your car's interior dry also helps prevent rust and corrosion.

Overall, this air cooler is an excellent option for anyone looking to keep their classic car in tip-top shape all summer long.

3. DoerflerDesigns Classic Car Air Swamp Cooler

The DoerflerDesigns Classic Car Air Swamp Cooler is a handmade car ac option. This is sold as a replica, and the new owner must customize it to make it a functional swamp cooler, but the design is impressive.

Add some ice packs and about a gallon of water to get started. It is made from 3/8" thick industrial-grade plastic and has a fully functional blower to move air inside the car.

It weighs about eight pounds, so it’s durable yet easy to mount on the outside of the vehicle. There is also a removable grille on this swamp cooler.

4. Turbokool 2B-0002 Air Swamp Cooler

Turbokool 2B-0002 Air Swamp Cooler
Turbokool 2B-0002 Air Swamp Cooler

This Turbokool 2B-0002 Air Swamp Cooler is an excellent addition to any vintage car. It keeps the air inside the car nice and cool, helping keep paint jobs in pristine condition.

The installation process was easy, and it ran quietly and efficiently. I highly recommend it if you want to keep your classic cars running their best.

This is a unique design, and it’s better suited for larger vehicles. This is because it has a rooftop design and operates like a heavy-duty evaporative cooler. It can even work on RVs.

What Does A Swamp Cooler Do?

As summer approaches and the temperatures rise, classic car owners have many options available to keep their beloved vehicles cool.

One often overlooked option is a classic car swamp cooler, also known as an evaporative cooling system. This type of system uses water evaporation to lower the temperature inside your car and will provide much-needed relief on hot days.

But we’ve learned they are rare to find available these days. The swamp cooler is essentially a heavy-duty air conditioner that uses water inside to create a cooling effect. The water evaporates, and the swamp cooler blows cold air.

Equipping a classic car with a swamp cooler can help keep drivers and passengers comfortable during long drives in warmer weather. It can also help prevent overheating issues caused by excessive heat buildup within your motor compartment or engine bay.

They are heavier and less convenient than portable air conditioners, but the vintage car cooler has a design that no new product can match.

How To Use An Air Car Cooler In A Classic Car

Ah, the classic car. Something can't quite be reproduced among all the shiny new models with their dashing designs and cutting-edge technology. I enjoy the feeling of cruising down the road in a classic car.

Whether it’s a timeless muscle car or a vintage convertible, driving an old-school ride is an experience to be relished. If you plan on hitting up some summertime cruises or attending outdoor car shows, chances are you will need to figure out how to keep your vehicle cool during those long hot days.

The good news? You can do so using an air car cooler. They are easy to use, too. Here are the steps to do so.

1. Fill The Swamp Cooler Tank With Ice/Water

The first step towards beating the heat with an air car cooler is ensuring the unit has enough water inside its tank. Simply fill it up by pouring cold tap water into its reservoir until it reaches maximum capacity.

Typically, about a gallon of water is enough. But it depends on the swamp cooler size; some can take up to 3-5 gallons.

2. Mount The Swamp Cooler To The Car

Once we have ensured that the air cooling unit’s components are correctly filled and ready for use, it's time to mount the cooler onto your vehicle.

Mounting requires little more than securely attaching two clamps at either side of the unit while ensuring they fit snugly against both sides of your vehicle’s window frame. Then just connect both ends using whatever hardware is included with the cooler.

3. Run The Unit To Cool The Vehicle

Lastly, run the unit and see if it provides a cooling effect inside the vehicle. This is the ultimate test. If there is no cool air, something was wrong during installation.

Do Classic Cars Come With Air Conditioning?

Classic cars did not use standard, modern-day air conditioning systems until 1968. And even then, it only started to come in a few vehicles before becoming the industry standard in all vehicles.

Most of these cars are also not capable of working with a complex air conditioning system. Instead, they must use interior cooling systems like a swamp cooler or fan.

Benefits Of A Classic Car Air Swamp Cooler

Classic car owners understand the key benefits of a car air swamp cooler.

They provide a vintage look, no electricity is needed for them to run, and they are relatively easy to install in most vehicles. Expect lower cooling temperatures too.

Vintage Automotive Fashion Statement

First, I can’t mention swamp coolers without emphasizing how unique the vintage design is. They provide a different stylistic addition to classic vehicles that no modern air conditioner can do.

This is one reason why I prefer to use this in my classic cars. They are operational enough not to notice a difference in performance either.

No Electricity Required

A classic car air swamp cooler does not require any electricity to operate. It is powered by a fan that runs off the vehicle's engine, meaning no extra energy sources are necessary.

This makes it an ideal cooling choice for vehicles with limited energy resources. They also tend to last longer than interior a/c systems for this reason.

Easy To Install

Installing a classic car air swamp cooler is relatively simple and can be done without hiring professionals or purchasing extra equipment.

It can be purchased pre-assembled so that we all need to add ice or water to get it running. Compare this to an actual air conditioner, and there is a clear winner. It’s faster and cheaper to use a new swamp cooler.

Low Cooling Temperatures

Classic car air swamp coolers provide effective cooling at low temperatures. The temperature inside the vehicle will stay lower even on hot summer days.

The absorption cycle of the evaporator keeps out heat from the outside environment while also providing some degree of humidity reduction in areas where needed. They can get to lower temperatures too.

Is A Swamp Cooler As Good As Air Conditioning?

With summer just around the corner, we get asked a lot if a swamp cooler is as good as air conditioning when it comes to cooling down an old classic car. The short answer is no.

They won't provide the same level of cooling as air conditioning, but it does offer some benefits for certain cars and climates. But if you only want something smaller to install in the vehicle, they work better than newer fans.

They last longer, and they aren't dependent on electricity for operation. They use surrounding air outside to force air inside the vehicle and create cool air flow. This makes them ideal for taking longer trips in hot weather.

This makes them ideal for taking longer trips in hot weather. Because most units are mounted to the vehicle’s inner fender wall instead of taking up valuable dash space as other aftermarket cooling solutions do, there is no need to worry about compromising style when installing one. They offer solid versatility for installation.