It took seven years after the close of World War II for Detroit to air condition their cars; it took only two years for the three Texas companies, A.R.A., Frigikar and Mark IV to do it themselves. By 1953, when Detroit finally introduced ‘Factory Air’, these companies had already shipped 10,000 units. DFW became the world center for aftermarket car air conditioning with over thirty companies active in the field. These companies became the leading source for add-on kits that were installed by car dealers, service stations and giant retailers all over the country. European and Asian auto manufacturers flocked to North Texas to equip their cars with A/C, being about ten years behind the US. Texas companies became leading suppliers of A/C systems installed in import cars at Port of Entry facilities throughout the US.
The book tells how these little companies learned how to work together in the face of Detroit’s marketing muscle, and how Detroit miscalculated the demand for A/C, and the number of cars on the road without A/C. It also covers the effects of growth on the little companies and the eventual take-over by big business with effects good and bad. Boy! That Air Feels Good! Is the first and only book to cover the aftermarket auto air conditioning industry as a whole, and is based on extensive research and interviews with surviving members, or descendents of the original company founders.
Asked what prompted him to write his book, Rod explained that even as most auto buffs know that Packard was the first with factory air in 1939, very few, even he, knew little more. “I was surprised to find that Dallas and Fort Worth was the epicenter for auto air conditioning in the 1950s.” He got to know the folks at the local history collections in the Public Libraries real well, and was able to track down some of the original pioneers to get their personal recollections. “This is a story that needed to be told!” He says.
Boy! That Air Feels Good! (160 pages, 129 photos and illustrations)
Rod Barclay is an Industrial Designer and editor of the North Texas Wheel, the regional newsletter of the Studebaker Drivers Club Inc. of South Bend, IN. He is active in classic car restoration and lives with his wife, Nancy and three miniature wire-haired dachshunds.