Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Speaking Of The Good Old Days

                        What year?

What year?

August, 2010, with its record high temperatures should make us appreciate air conditioning in our homes and cars. For some it might bring back memories of vacations in the good old days with all the windows rolled down. (It’s a give away about your age if you remember rolling a window up or down–although there are still a few automobiles being made with person-powered windows.)

The first concepts for automobile air conditioning were developed in the early 1930’s (The article pictured above was from a January, 1936 magazine.) Packard refined the concept and put them in luxury cars in 1939 and 1940, but they were poorly designed and couldn’t be adjusted. They cost about $4,000 in today’s money ($274 at the time.)

In 1954 Nash introduced the All Weather Eye, an efficient and effective automobile air conditioner for about $3,000 in today’s money. By 1969 over half of all cars made in the United States had air conditioning as standard equipment. Nowadays the vast majority of automobiles include an air conditioner, although some people are reducing the use of them to increase MPG in gasoline consumption.  The National Renewable Energy Laboratory released a report in 2000 that said, 

Current air-conditioning systems can reduce the fuel economy of high fuel-economy vehicles by about 50% and reduce the fuel economy of today’s mid-sized vehicles by more than 20%.

If you’re like most of us, you may try to reduce your use of air conditioning but you aren’t going to eliminate it entirely.  In areas where the temperatures are in the triple digits this week, it would seem foolish to have air conditioning but not use it–although until the 1950s most people were driving in the hottest climates without it.

As with many aspects of life and work, what was once the norm becomes intolerable and what was once a luxurious miracle becomes a commonplace necessity. Try turning off the air conditioner in your home or car. You may find you can do without it better than you think–even though at some point you will probably turn it back on. When you do, stop to feel thankful that some aspects of the good old days are new and improved.

1957 Buick--Rollin's car! (See his comment.)

August 5th, 2010 Posted by | Life and Work | 4 comments


  1. Wow, I didn’t realize there was no air conditioning in cars until the early 1950s. My dad used to talk about trips when he was a kid (mid 50s) and how hot everyone would be. He said a neighbor had an air conditioning unit that fit on one of the back windows and everyone thought that would be nice. When I get off work I’m glad to have AC!

    Comment by Mike | August 6, 2010

  2. I have air conditioning on my Honda Cruiser, but it tends to be hot in the summer and cold in the winter.

    Comment by wiseacre | August 6, 2010

  3. Hello, Ms. Rowe. I’ve been reading your site for awhile and like it very much. This article brought back memories of my baby blue, 1957 Buick Century. I bought it for my wife because it had air conditioning. We paid $3,685 dollars for the car and the dealer threw in a set of aluminum beverage glasses and a pitcher. (Are they glasses if they’re made out of aluminum? I don’t know the answer to that.)

    I pooh-poohed the idea of needing air conditioning in California where we lived at the time, but before long I was borrowing her car anytime we needed to go someplace and not look wilted when we got there. My wife was the envy of her friends and she often took them shopping or to their various ladies activities, so they could arrive in style.

    As Bob Hope would say, thanks for the memories. Rollin

    Comment by vet4life | August 10, 2010

  4. Tina says: Thanks Mike, wiseacre and vet4life, for your comments. I’ve sent an email to each of you.

    Vet4life (Rollin) thank you especially for sharing your memories. Please comment when you can! I added the bottom photo to the post, in honor of your 1957 Buick! I just lucked out and found it. I’m sending it to you in a jpg format so you can enjoy it. T.

    Comment by TLR | August 10, 2010

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