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Classic Cadillac Models Featured Unique Air Conditioning Intake Vents


While air conditioning is a common feature on modern Cadillac vehicles, this was not always the case.

The first documented implementation of any type of air conditioner was in 1884 with the invention of the “Eye of All Weather” for horse-drawn carriages. This system uses a fan attached to the axle of the carriage that blows air across a tray filled with ice. In theory, the find is solid, but not so much in practice given that it takes hundreds of pounds of ice per hour to function.

1953 Cadillac exterior 001 AC inlet vent

Automotive air conditioning, as we know it today, was first applied to Cadillac vehicles for the 1953 model year. The all-new Frigidaire system is available as a factory option or as a dealer-installed addition. Options cost more than $600 in 1953, the equivalent of nearly $6,000 today when adjusted for inflation.

1950s and 1960s Cadillac sedans with air conditioning have distinguishable fresh air vents directly behind the vehicle’s C-pillar, mounted on the rear deck lid. Air is induced through the vents by twin fans mounted in the trunk, where it is then cooled and dehydrated by the evaporator. The only way to control the trunk-mounted A/C system is to adjust the knob on the parcel rack (rear dashboard, basically), which means it can’t be changed by the driver while the vehicle is in motion.

1953 Cadillac exterior 001 AC interior roof vent

For distribution, Cadillac models equipped with the A/C feature direct air into the vehicle’s ceiling-mounted vent just above the rear seats, but this poses a slight problem, as the tube used for this function blocks rearward visibility. Cadillac was able to overcome this problem by manufacturing the tube from clear Plexiglas glass, which helps maintain a safe field of view from the rear of the vehicle. However, one of the problems with roof-mounted vents is their tendency to produce condensation, which sometimes drips onto rear seat passengers.

1953 Cadillac exterior 001 AC vent tube

Finally, Cadillac’s Harrison Radiator Division created a design that allowed engineers to move the air conditioning system into the engine compartment. This change not only frees up space in the trunk, but also allows the controls to be moved to an area that is ready for the driver to access. The 1965 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham was the first vehicle to offer an air conditioning system as standard equipment rather than as an option.

Cadillac introduced Comfort Control in 1964, which allowed air to be routed forward to the heating core, thus achieving a higher level of interior climate regulation. Comfort Control mixes hot and cold air to circulate air at a specific temperature, similar to the function of today’s automatic climate control systems.

1966 Cadillac Fleetwood exterior 001 AC inlet vents Summit Gray passenger side inlet vents

Exterior fresh air A/C ventilation was finally discontinued in 1971 after nearly 20 years of running as a staple in Cadillac exterior design. By 1969, more than half of all new cars sold in the US were equipped with optional air conditioning, and by 1977, Cadillac was the only brand under the General Motors umbrella to use air conditioning as standard equipment.

It almost goes without saying that all current Cadillac vehicles have air conditioning as standard, while offering heated and ventilated seats as an option. In fact, many current Cadillac models feature an air ionizer that is capable of (as the name implies) ionizing the air before it enters the cabin.

1966 Cadillac Fleetwood exterior 003 AC inlet vents Summit Gray rear three quarters

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