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Retro-fitting a 1990s Festiva AC on an '88?

So this 1988 Ford Festiva is basically just a toy, I have no desire for such a piece of crap. But everyone needs a fun little expendable car they can do whatever too and it’ll only cost 'em $100. This car is about to take part in a 500 mile off road race with other crappy cars. I’ve done a lot to this car to prepare it but as uncomfortable as it is, air conditioning is my biggest problem. It’s only a fan. I did some research to see if an actual cooling system exists for this thing. I did find that the 90s models had an actual AC. I was wondering if this AC unit off the 90s models could be retrofitted in an 88? I have no intentions of it being a pretty car, nor even keeping it for longer than 5 years and I’ll most likely be it’s last owner so I don’t care if it takes some damage to fit it in there. Is it possible?

Anything is possible with enough time and money.

Since you can’t get R12 refrigerant anymore unless certified, you’ll need to convert the system to operate on R134a


You’ll need to take a look at both of them, see if yours has the room needed. If the area behind the dash isn’t set up for a/c, it’ll be quite a job adding it.
I added a/c to my '72 Duster, but it was an aftermarket hang-under-the-dash unit. Much easier.

An air-conditioned race car!?

Sounds like a recipe for overheating to me. You’d do better getting a Cool Shirt or equivalent - it’ll probably cost about what it would cost to get AC into that thing. Especially since if I recall they had not yet converted away from R-12 in '88/90, and so you’re gonna either have to upgrade the system to take R-134 or buy R-12 which is practically a black market item these days.

Taking a 1988 Festiva on a 500 mile off road race ( or until it breaks in half ) and someone wants to spend more money than the vehicle is worth for air conditioning . This has to be a joke thread.

Sounds like a LeMons racer. People spend money on much crazier things.

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I’ve been wanting to do a LeMons race for a long time now. Just never pulled the trigger. Some of those “race” cars are hilariously awesome:

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I’d take a big foam cooler, cut a hole in the top that fits a 12V fan stuck into it, and another hole in the far side with a hose or pipe to aim where I choose. Fill it with ice, plug in the fan, and let 'er rip. Lots of ice available along a 500 mile ride.

If you want to more low-cost engineering, set up a hose and 12V pump to spread water onto the car’s roof. The evaporative cooling can greatly reduce the heat radiating onto you from the roof. You can’t always count on a rain shower on a hot sunny day.

I’d be aiming at the cooler route too. An even more effective way to do it is with a shirt that has water lines embedded in it. The water lines then go into the cooler, and as the water is pumped through it gets chilled by the ice and then goes back into the shirt. That’s the basic concept behind the Cool Shirt racing gear, though you can probably make a homebrew one for less than the real product.

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No this is real! Check out the race website:

Very similar race! This one is off road and is more of a navigational challenge. They have a few running in states around the nation but here’s the one that the Festiva is racing in:

It’s basically stock. No mechanical changes have been done rather than it has bigger tires and I added 2" of lift by using an early 90s Ford Aspire suspension. I fired it up recently and it’s surprisingly healthy other than it was burning 2 year old gas. I think overheating shouldn’t be an issue, especially since we’re running it in the high Uintas in September.

Here’s a picture:


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What about a well used roof mounted RV AC unit? If it takes too much juice, add an additional alternator such as a used GM i wire. It would add to the car’s present beauty.