Classic Car Restoration: Get The Glass Right

by Grace Motley

With so many colorful, outstanding features to highlight on your classic car--from the statement-making paint to the retro upholstered seats--the last thing you may be looking at is the windows, but the right glass can make all the difference when you finally complete your restoration project. Finding the right glass for your vintage vehicle will not only it make it look like the real thing, but it will also allow you to actually put that Desoto or Studebaker back on the road again. If you're in the market for window glass for your antique car, read on for a list of things to consider before choosing the glass that will pull all of your vehicle's elements together and make its first impression the right impression.

1. Where possible, choose glass that has been tempered, not laminated. Laminated glass is made by connecting two sheets of glass via an extremely thin plastic layer in the middle, which keeps breaking glass from separating and reduces the chance of serious lacerations in an accident. Windshields are laminated for safety purposes. The flat glass (door, vent, and back windows) in your vehicle, however, can be tempered. Tempered glass is heated to extremely high temperatures and then cooled very rapidly, which creates a much harder, more durable glass than other processes. If you're going for 100 percent authentic, consult your auto shop--up until the 60s and 70s, flat glass was laminated.

2. Don't go straight for the clear glass. Classic cars weren't as boring as the cars of today. In addition to clear, their windows came in a rainbow of tints, from green and smoke gray to bronze. While there are many classic combinations you can research and copy, if you're looking to customize your car for yourself, choose what speaks to you. Look at the exterior paint color of your car as well as the interior color palette and choose something that is complementary. 

3. Research the original vehicle. If you're unsure of the history of your car, look up the original model to see if any changes have been made over the years. Maybe that single piece windshield was actually a two piece on the original car. Most auto glass shops that regularly work with classic cars have enthusiasts on hand who will be able to help you locate the exact right design and type of glass for your restoration. Windshields range from one and two piece to the less well known v-butt.

4. Consider paying the extra for a professional installation. With many classic car parts in short supply, it may pay to have a professional in your corner when it comes to locating and installing the glass. Not only will a proper fitting result in a professional looking finish, it will also guarantee a classic car that is free of rattling glass and hard-to-roll-up windows.

For more information you may want to contact a local glass and upholstery shop, like Suburban Trim & Glass Corp.