by Dave Lawler in Tiger Tracks, S.T.O.A. July, 1978, published in the July/August 1978 RootesReview
The following is an account of how I finally arrived at a successful replacement window for the rear of a factory hard top.
In the middle of last winter while searching junk yards for old Tigers so I could get some parts for my Alpines, I spotted a window on the ground which looked like it had about the right curvature and was slightly larger than I needed. After arriving at a suitable price, I took my original plastic window and the new-found window over to my friendly local glass cutter with visions of instant success. Herb, my friendly glass cutter instantly dashed my hopes by informing me of my lack of knowledge about tempered glass, i.e., rear windows are tempered and cannot be cut!
With an obvious lack of enthusiasm, he let me know that windshields could be cut if you could find one with the correct curvature–he would give it a try,
Using strips of very thin plywood (paneling), I made templates of the top and bottom curvatures of the hard top by holding the plywood strips in the window opening perpendicular to the plane of the window and transferring the sheet metal curvature to the plywood. The plywood was then cut on a band saw,
I had trouble with the lack of consistency in the sheet metal. One side appeared to curve more than the other. In fact, one of the two templates took three tries to get the “best average”.
Armed with my plywood templates and scratched plastic window, I went out in the snow again to my favorite junkyard where I eventually convinced myself that an early Ford Falcon window was just what I needed. At 5° above zero, I removed it, paid well for it, and went back to Herb.
Several days later after much hemming and hawing, Herb told me that he finished it–but it was cracked. With much disappointment I tried it for fit. The Falcon window was 1/4” rather than 3/16″ as is the plastic, and the corner curvature was not as good as I had hoped for, but the gasket took it up, and it was by far much better than the plastic.
Off again to the junkyards for two more Falcon windows. (I had two hard tops) and back to Herb. Again, two failures! By this time Herb was as disappointed as I was. I left him with the templates and the plastic window in hopes he might run across a damaged Falcon window that could be salvaged for a Sunbeam,
Two weeks later, my wife received an ecstatic call from Herb. He had a finished window for me–but not from a Falcon. I was quite dubious, but picked it up instantly and tried it–and it was very good. So good in fact that I did not even have much trouble with the chrome trim. Also, the glass thickness was .3/16″, same as the plastic.
Herb had cut it from the top center section of a 1975 Chevy Nova. Apparently these suffer corner damage quite often. Within a week he had a second one for me. According to Herb, there are a whole family of Nova windows of different sizes and configurations, all with the same curvature. They also come in different thicknesses (1/4” and 3/16″), with and without tint, sunshades, and buried antenna wires. Some have an epoxied mirror mounting pad which, Herb claims, can be knocked off easily.
If you should have a friendly glass man nearby, I’m sure you can work out these details so that you can get what you want. I would suggest using 3/16” glass–the choice of tinted/sunshade would be up to the individual taste. One of my units has the buried antenna wire and the second has the sunshade (by choice).
Since the one with the wire was the first one, I was very happy with any success. From a purist viewpoint, I would not have selected it if I had realized that I could have found one without it, although it is hardly visible.
In terms of cost it’s reasonable, considering the mistakes and failures it cost me for two good glass windows, a little more than for two replacement plastic windows, but you should come out ahead.