Aftermarket Air Conditioning for LS swap

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Post by 73GA on Thu Apr 02, 2020 4:03 pm

Hi All,

I'm in the middle of a body-off-frame restomod on my 73 Grand Am. Body is back on frame, but while I have the dash completely disassembled it dawned on me that now is the time to install an aftermarket AC system, if I finally decide to go that way. The drivetrain consists of a new GM crate LS3 and Magnum 6-speed manual trans. The car had OEM AC but that is long gone, however, the dash controls remain and in a perfect world it would be ideal if I could integrate any aftermarket system into those controls.

Obviously, there are no bolt in systems for this application, but I have looked at Vintage Air systems and also a company called Restomod Air, whom I did email to see if they'd be interested in helping out. A friend in California spoke to a Restomod rep at a show down there and was impressed by the products and customer support, therefore my call. As for the VA kits, I've seen some mixed reviews but also know that they seem to be the go-to company for many hot rodders and overall those buyers seem happy.

Anyway, my question to everyone is, has anyone here installed an aftermarket AC setup into a 73-77 A-body that has had an LS swap, and if so, what was your experience and what are your recommendations? Any help is greatly appreciated! Thanks, Gavin.

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Post by thatfnthing on Fri Apr 03, 2020 11:11 am

Here's some light reading:

https://www.g3gm.com/t5428-vintage-air-retrofit

I installed the VA Gen IV system a bunch of years back.  I don't have an LS motor, but other than that difference, I think you'll find a bunch of things in there will still be relevant for you.

Now it was a bunch of years ago, so things may have changed, but I did a LOT of legwork at the time.  VA had the most comprehensive lineup of equipment and options.  Restomod, Southern, and all the others (at the time) only had straight up kits that were designed to fit only a few specific vehicles, and IIRC they were not even large units (VA equivalent of Gen II).  Nothing generic that could be adapted.  I can guarantee that you will be customizing and making up a fair amount as you go.  Therefore you need maximum flexibility and a la carte shopping from whoever you go with.  You will also be on the phone with them bouncing ideas around and looking for parts they don't normally list.

Also, FWIW: if you are looking to keep your stock controls, VA was also the only one that had the sliding pots that would allow you to make the stock controls work with the new unit.  Everyone else, you had to buy their controls.

As for the LS, maybe someone else has mounted the typical Sanden compressor to it and can chime in.
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Post by tropdeprojet on Fri Apr 03, 2020 1:25 pm

Not aftermarket kit but this is my custom A/C system.

On my car, i have a 5.3l engin. Keep factory controls with a sanden compressor. I found an aftermarket sanden ls bracket.

Both rad and resitor came from S10. Only add 1/2 inch lenght with a custom cover on the factory firewall box.

The project not finish, i have to make hoses.
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Post by 73GA on Sat Apr 04, 2020 5:35 am

Wow, thanks so much guys! Special thanks thatfnthing for the link to your installation. I've just started reading and it's filled with excellent info. I also got in touch with Jeff Schwartz of Schwartz Performance because I recalled that his shop had done work on a pro touring 73 Olds 442 that was running an LS and 6-speed. Jeff gave a fast and helpful reply as well, which I'll post up tomorrow. Thanks again guys!

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Post by Limey SE on Sat Apr 04, 2020 2:41 pm

Tropdeprojet .... I want to know about these Valve Covers Myself, Is that another custom job by you ??

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Post by tropdeprojet on Sat Apr 04, 2020 3:03 pm

Limey SE wrote: Tropdeprojet ....   I want to know about these Valve Covers Myself, Is that another custom job  by you ??

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This is Holley plastic LS valve cover. I will keep the cover in black and paint in orange , like the engin, the GMC laser cut parts.
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Post by thatfnthing on Sat Apr 04, 2020 7:43 pm

73GA wrote:Wow, thanks so much guys!  Special thanks thatfnthing for the link to your installation.  I've just started reading and it's filled with excellent info. I also got in touch with Jeff Schwartz of Schwartz Performance because I recalled that his shop had done work on a pro touring 73 Olds 442 that was running an LS and 6-speed. Jeff gave a fast and helpful reply as well, which I'll post up tomorrow.  Thanks again guys!

Always happy to help. I would be very interested in seeing your build thread when you do it. Wink
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Post by 73GA on Sat Apr 18, 2020 3:27 am

Thanks again for your help, andapolgies for rage late response. I'm continuing with my research and will post up when I have made a decision. At this point I'm just emailing a bit and figuring things out. As for posting up in a build thread, I'll certainly give it consideration, but thanks for the encouragement. Back soon... I hope.
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Post by 73GA on Sat Apr 18, 2020 3:31 am

HA! Nice spelling! It's supposed to read, "and apologies for the late response"! No "rage" here! Sorry 'bout dat! ;-)

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Post by tropdeprojet on Sat Apr 18, 2020 9:08 am

Nice car! Like the wheels and paint color.

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Post by JF74chevelle on Sun Apr 19, 2020 12:03 am

Have you already put the LS3 and t56 into the car?
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