Your 50 year old Classic Car has a broken window or needs windshield repair or windshield replacement and it is no longer just a trip to the local car dealer to get it fixed, so where do you start? Fortunately, there are many resources .
If you own one of the more popular makes like Chevrolet or Ford, buying replacement glass can be relatively easy and some local auto glass installers may even be able to do the job. Reproduction glass is now available for many of these classics and this is the preferred way to go as this is one area where authenticity takes a back seat to safety. Glass from a wrecking yard glass or parts car may seem attractive at first, but there are many condition and safety issues that make this a last resort only process. Old glass has years of wear and tear, including scratches, chips and possible delaminating, and removing old glass from a wreck can damage it further making it unsuitable for classic auto glass repair.
Why Reproduction Glass Makes Sense.
The cost of replacement auto glass for many classics is quite reasonable, and this is another reason to avoid using a wrecking yard or parts car if possible. While some local glass installers may not be able to do the job, an internet search using terms like "57 Chrysler 300 windshield", or 'Classic auto Glass" should get you the results you need. Looking up a local car club can also generate some useful leads just using search terms like " Jaguar car club Minnesota" .
The next choice you need to make is whether to do the job yourself or have it done professionally. Installing glass in older, pre 1950's cars and trucks is usually within the capabilities of an owner with average mechanical skills. Just keep in mind that the rubber moldings and seals are part of the job and unless these are replaced there could be problems. If you are ordering glass, be sure to check if the related hardware is available.
With newer cars from the mid to late 50's on, the process gets a bit more complicated, and here is where letting a pro handle the job might be a better choice. First, there is the cost of the glass. For some 50's and 60's era cars with large windshields this can be several hundred dollars but with a rare or limited production vehicles, the cost can be much higher Getting the glass in place, sealed properly, and making sure it will not crack if you hit a bump takes experience and some special tools. Some later model cars that are now reaching " Classic" status may have bonded windshields and rear windows that require specialized tools to remove and install properly and this is not for the first timer. Cars with power windows are another challenge, as you may need to repair or replace some of the mechanical components as well as the glass.
Cost varies widely depending on type of car, age and availability. Some suppliers offer complete glass kits for mid 50's Chevrolet cars for between $1,500 and $2,000. This is for glass only and if the windshield is a large piece, as in a '58 Chevrolet or a '57 Chrysler, that cost can easily double. A windshield alone can cost up to $2,000 if it is a custom order.
Going to a local installer offers you the advantage of a professional installation, a warranty, and the confidence that the parts are DOT compliant. Some other things to inquire about before placing an order is whether the glass is certified and meets OEM specs. Some auto glass may be cheaper, but may also be thinner than the original and if it is not certified there are safety issues as well.
One excellent resource in the Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Twin Cities Minnesota area is Only 1 Auto Glass, 2001 McMenemy St, Saint Paul MN 651-789-1111. They are a full service auto glass installer and an excellent place to start your search.