POLL: Saloon 3.8L engines with Retro/Classic Auto Air a/c

I’ve begun the process of installing a Classic Auto Air (formerly RetroAir) a/c system on my 1964 3.8L E-Type FHC, and I have a couple of questions about other 3.8L owners’ experiences with the drive belt(s). I would think that the purely performance-related aspects of the kit should be the same across all 3.8L engines, thus my query here (as well as on the E-Type and XK forums).

  1. Did you do a 1-belt installation or a 2-belt installation?
  2. How many miles have you gone since installing the a/c system?
  3. Have you experienced any belt issues?

I’m running this poll because I’ve been told by a certified Jaguar oracle (who shall remain nameless here) that RetroAir’s 1-belt solution is flawed because the belt runs backside down over an idler and he’s seen more than one example of the belt failing at under 1500 miles. I want to see if that is a widely-shared experience. This should be useful to future 3.8L owners considering how to proceed.

Thanks in advance for sharing your experience.


Yes, I chew through belts in no time flat. 1500 miles seems about right. They are very difficult to replace. I would far prefer a 2 belt setup. If you have a solution, please post it!


I’m working on building a two-belt solution as I write, which is being documented in a parallel thread under the E-Type forum: POLL: 3.8 owners who have installed Retro/Classic Auto Air a/c. If it wouldn’t be too much trouble, would you please post a couple of photos of your setup? Also, if you tried isolating the cause of failure, it would be interesting to hear what you learned.



My father’s 1963 3.8 MK2 had a two belt set-up and two condensers, one in front of the radiator and one under the front bumper…

Very interesting. Do you have any photos of the setup? Did the refrigerant flow through one condenser and then the other or was it distributed between the two?

Sorry, no photos…the car hasn’t been in the family since 1985, we had it from 1963 until 1985. I believe the condensers were in series. The secondary condenser under the bumper was shaped like an oil cooler.

OK. Maybe the current owner is on this forum and will weigh in.

My ‘65 Mk2 came with a Delinair truck-mounted unit and a York compressor.
There was an extension or second pulley attached to the crank pully which ran a belt to the York compressor then to an idler pulley that was adjustable, attached to 3 bolts on the water pump. This idler pulley maintain tension on the AC belt

my installations had 3 evaporators, the main evaporator in front of the radiator (sometimes referred to a chair evaporator - which then fed into a 2nd evaporator, parallel to then ground, located behind the front bumper, and as indicated in previous posts, looking like an oil cooler. This evaporator fed into a third evaporator located in the driver’s side front fender and had it’s own fan.

george leicht
cincinnati ohio

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I am thinking you mean condenser not evaporator which, with your system is part of the trunk mounted equipment.

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Well, no wonder my aircon doesn’t work!

My system isn’t fully installed yet, still working on a bracket for the Sanyo compressor. But yes there are three condensers are in the front.


George Leicht

US Bankruptcy Trustee (Chapter 7)

Reply to gpl@fuse.net

PO Box 602

Batavia, OH 45103-0602


Hi George,

I have a 1964 E-Type, not a 1965 Mk2, but I’m guessing that our 3.8 engines are very similar. The a/c system you describe further up (York compressor etc.)…was that original to the car, or part of a kit you purchased? I’m installing a kit myself, sourced from Classic Auto Air, which purchased the former RetroAir vendor of retrofit a/c kits.

I expect that our a/c systems will differ in many respects, but I’d be interested in how you mount your alternator, compressor and belts. I have started a thread in the E-Type forum with some of my photos and I would be interested in seeing photos of your system as your installation progresses. I’m installing mine with two belts: one for the crank and compressor only, and the second for the crank, alternator and water pump.



P.S. I am guessing that you have two condensers and one evaporator similar to @MarkII further up this thread. All 3 are fundamentally heat exchangers. But the evaporator is the one inside the cabin, and absorbs heat from the cabin air, which heats/expands the refrigerant. The condenser’s job is to reject heat from the refrigerant to the atmosphere outside the cabin. Then the cycle begins anew…

The old York compressors that were usually part of these aftermarket kits are now a bit old technology. I believe many now up grade to a more modern and efficient Sanden type compressor which are more efficient and less bulky. I also believe there are adaptor kits that provide a bracket to mouth the newer compressors in place of the Yorks. As as a further note, many may want to run R134 refrigerant instead of the much more costly R-12 which may be difficult to find now as new Jaguars (and other cars) stopped using R12 circa 1993, if I remember correctly. Just a few things to consider.

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Yes, the kit I purchased uses a Sanden compressor and R134a. The mounting brackets are a whole 'nother story…the parallel thread over in the E-Type Forum shows how three different owners mounted their kits in three different ways.



I believe the Delanair systems were dealer installed. My Mk10 had two serpentine condensers fitted in series. Note that modern condensers are much more efficient. If I ever get around to restoring my system, I’ll install a single modern parallel condenser in front of the radiator and skip the one under the front beam - it’s just an accident waiting to happen. Also to confirm that there is an adapter plate to fit the Sanden style compressor to the original York bracket if you have that, not hard to find.