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The digital readout in the Acura ILX I drove today validated my sense that it was exceptionally hot outside with its reading of 29C. That may not be considered oppressively hot in other regions of this vast land, but in Vancouver it certainly was.

As the air conditioner in the ILX blew strong, keeping the cabin cool and refreshed, it got me thinking about the days when air conditioning in a car was a rarity, not the norm that it is today. Given that I owned many cars in my younger days without air-con (or power windows!), I have vivid memories of coping with commutes and long road trips without the benefits of AC.

Rolling down all four windows on a hot day was standard operating procedure that required a lot of twisting and contorting to accomplish from the driver’s seat. Opening the front vent windows and strategically aiming them to direct air up sleeves to cool perspiring pores was the closest to air conditioning one could get, and it only worked when on the move. Red lights and slow traffic meant the loss of airflow vital to survival.

Then there were accoutrements. Bus drivers, taxi drivers and anyone else relegated to sticky vinyl used a variety of seat liners to create a buffer between flesh and faux leather. Beaded liners and coiled metal liners allowed some degree of air to permeate between body and bench, but again motion was integral to the effectiveness of these no-tech applications.

Back then, the thought that modern automobiles would be equipped with multizone climate control and ventilated seats was more fantasy than fact.

Fortunately, some “cool” fantasies really do (and did) come true.

car air conditioner