1 September 2005

Parts Department: Locating Auto Glass

You don’t have to be involved in a serious auto accident to get into a situation where you need glass for your collector car. Flying stones or gravel, a door that gets slammed too hard or even a rusty window sash that breaks off inside the door can lead to a broken windshield or window. Many old cars that have been stored for a long time develop cloudy or discolored glass, even though no breakage occurs.

There are basically two types of glass parts for older cars: flat and curved. You don’t have to worry about reflective glass, glass with electric coils, mirrors glued to the windshield and other high-tech options. However, as you get into cars of the ‘50s and ‘60s, you may have to decide between clear or tinted glass, or use an epoxy to attach the inside rearview mirror to the windshield.

Any glass used in an automobile today should be of the laminated “Safety Plate” type. This first came into use in the 1930s. Before that, glass could be a dangerous, life-threatening item in a collision. My father still recalls the time that his head went through the windshield of a late-1920s Oldsmobile that my grandmother was driving. Luckily, Dad didn’t get severe glass cuts, but many people did back then. Laminated glass was an important safety improvement.

Most cars built prior to 1930 use flat glass (some older electric-powered coupes may be an exception). Cars with flat glass that don’t have Safety Glass should be converted to Safety glass. Most local shops can cut flat-glass parts if they have a suitable pattern to work from. An old window can be used to make such a pattern. If you can’t find a local shop willing to tackle such work, there are several national suppliers that specialize in old-car glass, which are listed below.

Sources: www.american-restorations.com; www.auto-glass.com; www.glass-net.com; www.psautoglass.com; www.OEMglass.net; www.classicflatglass.com

John “Gunner” Gunnell is the automotive books editor at Krause Publications in Iola, Wis., and former editor of Old Cars Weekly and Old Cars Price Guide.

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