Maintaining your hot rod's cooling system is critical, but understanding how to achieve this goal is oftentimes elusive. There's a staggering amount of poor information and lack of knowledge that's spread around. (Oftentimes the Internet is as large a source of misinformation as it is of good information.) There isn't another aspect of building a car, other than possibly the electrics, that's as misunderstood as your car's cooling system. What is in front of you over the next few pages is a listing of products that will help you learn what and how to keep your hot rods cool—and you while you are at it.
The "given" in any cooling system is to start with a radiator designed for your application. There are plenty of great examples in both copper/brass and aluminum but remember each has specific care practices to follow. Before you fork over upwards of $800 for a really good radiator with electric fan and shroud, note there are critical factors to first decide. These would include engine (size and horsepower level), engine compartment (airflow), and accessories (A/C, electric fan, automatic trans, and so on). And it should be noted that not all cooling is the responsibility of the radiator, although it is numero uno, but there are transmission and oil coolers, coolants and additives, electric fan controllers, and water pumps.
Earlier we mentioned electric fans and shrouds. Regardless if you use a mechanical (block driven) fan or an electric fan, a proper shroud is your engine's best friend when it comes to assisting in cooling. A good shroud should be designed and fitted to your radiator and engine compartment needs, as well as fan placement (electric attached to the front or back of the radiator) or a block driven the shroud is critical. A well-designed shroud and matched to a properly placed fan will assist in directing the air through the radiator and over the engine and out of the engine compartment (often referred to as heat mapping).
Cooling is critical and there are a number of factors to factor in but it can be done; just do your homework, and a great place to start is to look over the following Cooling Buyer's Guide.
High-performance engines require coolant to transfer as much heat as possible. As cylinder head temperatures increase, so does the likelihood of detonation and power loss unless ignition timing is retarded. Under extreme conditions, this can also result in overheating and engine damage.
Hy-Per Lube Super Coolant reduces the surface tension of coolant, allowing it to more deeply penetrate metal surfaces at critical heat transfer areas inside the engine and radiator. This results in more heat being transferred away from cylinder heads and a reduction in engine operating temperatures.
Importantly, cooler cylinder head temperatures also allow the engine ECU to safely advance ignition timing, which results in more horsepower. Street applications running a 50/50 mix run 6-8 degrees F cooler, and racing applications running straight water coolant run up to 20 degrees F cooler. Actual cylinder head temperatures can be reduced by up to 50 degrees F.
Hy-Per Lube Super Coolant provides complete protection from rust, corrosion, and electrolysis. This is particularly important in straight water applications where there is no corrosion protection being provided by the corrosion inhibitors in antifreeze. Hy-Per Lube Super Coolant is formulated specifically to protect aluminum systems and is compatible with all types of antifreeze.
Available at: Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone, Canadian Tire, O'Reilly Auto Parts, and Walmart.
Flex-a-lite introduces a new line of fluid Cooler Guards for transmission and engine oil coolers. An aluminum guard provides protection against fin damage from rocks and debris. They are designed and built in the United States. Gator Clip mounts allow for complete airflow through and around the cooler fins.
Translife coolers from Flex-a-lite have long been trusted to protect automatic transmissions, power steering, and other vital components from damage caused by fluids overheating, and now Flex-a-lite has developed a line of Cooler Guards to protect the oil coolers from rocks and other debris.
Flex-a-lite Cooler Guards are made in the United States, formed and punched from 1/8-inch aluminum. They securely mount on Translife coolers using Flex-a-lite Gator Clips. The design provides complete airflow, but protects the cooler from larger items that could potentially damage it. The guard also adds a cool performance appearance to the oil cooler. They can be painted black to hide the cooler from being seen through the grille, or use a custom paint for that matching look.
Coolers come with either 3/8-inch barbed or -6 AN fittings, and they are available with a new "J"-style return line.
Derale Performance introduces their new PWM Electric Fan Controller (PN 16795). Utilizing cutting-edge technology, this new controller employs pulse width modulation that constantly monitors and adjusts electric fan speed to maintain constant coolant temperature that can be preset to meet changing needs and environmental conditions. This powerful fan-controlled thermostat can control multiple electric fans and offers up to 70-amp capacity to handle the toughest conditions and most powerful cooling fans available. With built-in current overload, short-circuit and overheating protection, Derale has effectively introduced original equipment reliability and function to the specialty aftermarket. With the ability to adjust fan speed from 0-100 percent as needed, this PWM Electric Fan Controller uses variable frequency, duty-cycle modulation, and active fly back snubbing for highly efficient operation. Each unit uses active input voltage regulation to achieve low EMI output.
Old Air Products
Old Air Products specializes in cooling system performance. They manufacture the Hurricane Series A/C, heat, and defrost systems that offer a variety of options to fit virtually any vehicle. Along with the A/C systems, they offer a complete line of electric fans, fan shrouds, and aluminum radiators to maximize the cooling capacity for your antique, classic, or custom vehicle.
Old Air offers a full line of replacement parts and N.O.S., NORS parts for factory A/C and heater systems, including heater valves, blower switches, resistors, relays, receiver/dryers, cables, update kits for STV and POA valves, A/C hose assemblies, vacuum valves, and electrical switches.
New electric cooling fan from Delta PAG uses cutting-edge brushless motor technology, making it the most technologically advanced fan on the market. Their patented technology increases reliability (lasts 10 times longer), reduces amp draw by 30 percent, eliminates power spikes, and produces over 2,800 cfm of air, while keeping it only 2.70 inches thin. With Delta PAG's digital temp/speed controller you can program on/off temp and adjust airflow to fit your application. One digital temp/speed controller can operate two fans simultaneously, allowing for true staggered-on operation. Simple, three-wire connections (Batt +, Batt -, and 12V switched) make it the easiest fan to install, no more relays or temp switches. Kits start at $329 and include everything you need.
Zirgo Cooling Products
Finding the right fan for your ride now just became easy with Zirgo's Online Cooling Calculator. You can choose by vehicle or custom specification to find the right fan every time. Each fan is presented with all the performance and size details.
Spal Automotive USA
SPAL "NUOVA" series brushless fans feature completely sealed IP68/IP6K9K-rated waterproof/dustproof motors with integrated power and signal electronics, "soft start" technology (eliminates electrical in-rush spike), digitally controlled for smooth and reliable operation, temperature sensor options for full variable speed control, low weight, high efficiency, low noise, along with excellent resistance to vibration and harshness (NVH) levels.
In addition, the brushless design reduces the number of wear components versus standard brushed technology to deliver extremely long-lasting motor life as well as provide automatic power de-rating to guaranty performance in over-temperature operating conditions.
SPAL brushless technology is specifically designed for applications where low power consumption, fuel economy, low weight, advanced electronic control, and high efficiency are key requirements.
SPAL "NUOVA" series brushless fans have been designed to meet the highest engineering standards for both performance and durability and is recommended for off-road vehicle, muscle car, hot rod, and truck applications, but the application possibilities are virtually endless.
U.S. Radiator Corporation
For over 40 years, U.S. Radiator has offered the most complete and comprehensive line of "correct appearance and fit" copper/brass radiators for American classic, muscle cars, classic truck, and street rod applications in the industry. Over the last 10 years they have expanded their line of "correct appearance and fit" radiators with their Desert Cooler Aluminum radiators. They now offer four distinctive performance core designs to handle any horsepower and hard-to-cool applications and have been the leader in innovated heat-transfer design. Couple that with their unique Triple Flow design and Low Profile Fan Shroud package and every application from mild to wild is covered.
Evans Cooling System
(888) 990-COOL (2665)
Evans Waterless High Performance Coolant provides superior heat protection for all performance engines. High Performance Coolant used with Evans' BBC pump can cool large cubic-inch and supercharged engines. The highest gallon per minute flow rate available on the market is found in Evans' coolant pump due to the custom-designed, high-volume, corrosion-free–coated pump impeller. For competitive show presentation, pumps can be custom ceramic coated or custom color powdercoated. Design a cooling system to successfully cool the most extreme performance engines with the assistance of Evans' technical support team. All Evans Waterless Coolants and pumps are made in the United States. Evans High Performance Coolant is available in specialty performance shops.
Painless Performance Products
The Painless F5 Fan Control system gives you complete control of single or dual high-amp cooling fan installations. When you need a solution to control your electric cooling fans that will monitor more than just coolant temperature, the F5 Fan Controller is your answer. This solid-state pulse-width modulated controller has the ability to control your cooling fan speed from 50 percent all the way to 100 percent fan speed based on user programmable settings. The three-position switch delivers full-on manual fan mode, normal temperature regulated fan operation, and full-off fan mode. Rated for one 70-amp or two 35-amp fans, the kit includes all wiring, senders, state-of-the-art electronic control module, connectors and hardware, and a complete installation manual. Metric senders are available for GM Gen III and Gen IV engines too.
The Brassworks restores and fabricates radiators for classic cars and street rods. After 38 years they have seen it all; chops, channels, split cores, angled headers, fan well reliefs, tank reliefs, and more. Whether you need a custom fabrication or a drop-in replacement, The Brassworks can build it. The Brassworks also constructs obsolete heater cores for classic cars and trucks and copper replacements for more modern vehicles that fail prematurely from electrolysis.
Most engines overheat in stop-and-go traffic, at stoplights, or while cruising. That's where FlowKooler high-flow water pumps perform the best. FlowKooler's pumps have precision-machined billet aluminum impellers that are protected with a military-grade surface coating. With larger diameters, incremental vanes, integrated shrouds, and tighter tolerances FlowKooler's impellers double-flow rates at slow speed and idle. This drops engine temperatures as much as 30 degrees and raises block pressure to prevent hot spots on cylinder walls, steam pockets in the water jacket and system cavitation. A full range of pumps for street rods, muscle cars, and classic trucks are available. Don't worry if you can't find your pump because FlowKooler now rebuilds numbers-matching pumps using their patented impeller designs—stock on the outside with performance on the inside.
Griffin Thermal Products
(800) RACERAD (722-3723)
Griffin Thermal Products is proud to introduce the all-new ExactFit series of aluminum radiators. With 30 years of experience in the performance cooling market and one of the largest collections of OEM sample radiators, Griffin has engineered the ExactFit series.
Working with a double focus on precision and performance, the ExactFit products install exactly the same as the OEM component. They offer all of the required mounting tabs, brackets, and spuds to ensure a seamless installation. Optimal performance is achieved by the use of two rows of Griffin exclusive MaxCool 1.25-inch tubing. The wider tube width used in these products creates a greater amount of surface area in the same amount of space. This allows the product to far exceed the performance of common two-row 1-inch radiators.
Backed by the industry's best two-year warranty, the new ExactFit radiators are top of the line.
This is the only truly custom aftermarket car A/C system that provides both ultimate style and killer performance to any pro touring build. Restomod Air has the ONLY premium line of complete car A/C systems and components that truly give your pro touring build cutting edge style with customization options and high-performance cooling. Restomod Air will freeze your ass off!
Restomod Air was created because custom car builders wanted more—more technology, more class, more quality, and more performance.
From complete systems, to amazing one-off billet vent designs, this is the new generation in custom A/C. Check out the many patent-pending and award-winning designs online.