Dale Amy
June 1, 2005

The idea was one George Huisman had wistfully contemplated for a long time, but that had only recently become technically feasible: Replace a Mustang's entire sheetmetal roof skin with a fixed glass panel, and let the light shine in. But not the heat. The result is strikingly illustrated by Classic Design Concepts' "Glassback" '05 Mustang GT showstopper, named after the company's new roof system and hastily assembled for last November's SEMA show. Of course, the fact that the Glassback GT also parades around wearing a number of additional CDC prototype visual enhancements for the '05 doesn't hurt, nor does its 20-inch rolling stock.

Actually this is only one of a veritable stampede of SEMA 'Stangs that featured CDC's Glassback roof at last fall's annual Las Vegas aftermarket extravaganza. To say that the clear lid was a design hit is an understatement at its finest. In truth, describing the roof as a "clear lid" is being far too flippant, as the Glassback system is comprised of two layers of structural safety glass sandwiching a UV-reflective material in between. OK, so let's call it a laminate lid, and it took more than Mr. Huisman's insatiable creativity to become reality. The high-strength glass-laminate technology is a product of Solutia Automotive, a supplier of automotive windshields and windows to the Detroit OEMs. George approached the St. Louis firm with the idea of manufacturing his Glassback idea for the much anticipated '05 Mustang, and he came armed with the CAD data necessary to duplicate the complex compound curves of the new car's roof skin. George credits Ford's aftermarket technology transfer program for providing him with that all-important dimensional data.

The resulting expanse of sky is almost 14 square feet in area, and is claimed by the manufacturer to be up to six decibels quieter than the sheetmetal roof it replaces, despite being lighter and doing away with a traditional headliner. And those of us fortunate enough to populate the Sunbelt need not worry: Solutia says the laminate will block up to 95 percent of the sun's UVA and UVB rays, meaning no fried bald spots or upholstery meltdowns.

The overall effect in driving beneath the Glassback is that of a convertible without the hair trauma. Even on the dreary mid-November-in-Michigan days of our photo shoot, the Glassback GT's interior was cheerfully bright in the manner of a shaded sunporch. Headroom, too, was notably increased by the absence of headliner.

It was a testament to the talented crew at CDC that we were able to drive the Glassback show car at all, since the bone-stock Sonic Blue GT it was created from had arrived at the company's Walled Lake, Michigan, facilities just three days before it was scheduled to be shipped off to SEMA. This meant a mad thrash to get not only the Glassback roof system in place, but also all the other show-worthy hardware, including prototype versions of various body components CDC will, by now, have ready for your own '05. The company's '05 catalog will include sequential taillights, a couple variants of front chin spoilers, and rear spoilers; various patterns of stainless grille inserts, with or without lamps and running-horse tri-bar; C-pillar sidescoops; and hoodscoops with LED turn signal indicators on the rear edge. Note that the scalloped indentations on the Glassback GT's hoodscoop and sidescoops will not be production options, though the sidescoops will be available in a couple different configurations. The Jaguar-sourced headlights on the show car will not be a CDC offering, but the company is working on a full bi-xenon option.