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260 Air Conditioning

Posted by: Paul Brian

1939 Packard Every day we keep an "electronic fishing pole" out there for news about auto shows and the industry, and today I spotted a note from http://abagaylesbooks.blogspot.com/2008/11/david-adkins.html that mentioned something of note.  It seems that on this day In history--1939--the first air-conditioned automobiles went on display at the auto show in Chicago. The Packard Motor Car Company was now offering the automobile with air conditioning as an option for $274. The refrigeration compressor ran off the cars engine. The system had no thermostat and it discharged the cooled air from the back of the car.  I realized that while it wasn't a Packard, I believe I owned a car like that when I was in school. Auto show GM Jerry Cizek noted that they offered it in November so no one really knew if the AC even worked. I'm sure the more seasoned readers will recall the option known as "260 Air Conditioning."  That's when you opened 2 windows and drove 60 mph.

And there you have yet another milestone in Chicago Auto Show history.  It's interesting to note that in '39 the show was in November, as the industry was emerging from the Great Depression and the major shows (Chicago and NY) moved their dates to help kickstart sales. The show's mission remains the same. Many ask why we don't move the show dates out of February. There area a few reasons. What do you think would be among them? I'd be curious to see what our readers think.

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