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Biffs detailing hand sign witten on swamp cooler

Swamp Cooler Restoration by Biffs Detailing


Vintage Swamp Coolers or Car coolers, were used between the 1940s and the 1960s. At the time it was the only thing you could use to cool down on those sweltering hot days. By the late 1960s they were eventually replaced by the air conditioning.

How they used to work:    Basically before a journey you would fill the unit with crushed  ice or water through the a opening in the side until water comes out of the overflow hole. The speed of the car creates air flow through the cooler, which passes through the cooling jacket and out through the vents into the car. The air flow rate is controlled by two pull cords that open and close the vents.  One fill pf the cylinder  would be sufficient for approximate 75 to 125 miles.

Here are pictures of pre purchased original Thermador air-conditioning unit. Looking pretty beaten up with an odd shaped funnel. I purchased and shipped to the UK from Iowa USA.

Thermador car airconditioning   1950 Swamp cooler  newspaper advertisment

I considered just clear coating to preserve the patina and history of the retro unit. However after spending 50+ hours taking out paint imperfections from the 67  Beetle. It seemed a little in vain unless the swamp cooler was to match as it sat on the glass of the window.

The next step was to weld pins and hand pulled the dents and dings out. Then use the lightest layer of filler to get the smooth finish retaining the features.

swamp cooler in primer
Primed and ready to paint
swamp cooler painted reed green
Painted Reed Green to match 67 bug
retro airconditioning in clear coat
Vintage Swamp Cooler restoration in clear coat

Last stage was to paint the intake white and red too colour match the beetle interior. Then installing a set of new pull cords that open & close the vents to allow ice cooled air to blow into the bug.

Swamp coolier intake white and red
Freshly painted intake


Swamp cooler attached to window of 67 beetle
First time fitted on to the windows glass with a original support rod


hand painted logos on swamp cooler
Painted by York based Colour Worx


To keep some to the vintage charm of this American passenger side Thermador, found in a rat rod condition we only felt it right to commission Rusty nail signs to apply our company name in a traditional hand sign written way.

Biffs detailing hand sign witten on swamp cooler
Finally traditional hand sign written techniques where used to apply the company’s logo.

Special Thanks to Shane at and Liam at @Rustynail_Signs (Instagram)


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