K.J. Jones
July 19, 2007
Alex (left) and Roberto of All Star Glass lower our T-top coupe's front windshield into position. While this photo depicts final placement with adhesive in place, auto-glass installers actually set a windshield down at least once prior to this commitment step, ensuring there are no flaws or problems with it. Alex and Roberto use suction handles that allow movement and positioning of the new glass while the urethane adhesive is still pliable.

Horse Sense: Although our project is not quite complete, we want to take this opportunity to thank you, the members of the 5.0 Nation, for the wonderful comments and encouragement we've received about the '86 T-top coupe. Photos and video clips of the rejuvenated 'Stang are now making their way around various enthusiast sites online-you can find links at 50mustangandsuperfords.com and www.streetlegaltv.com. It's nice to know that our Fox-rod transformation of this rare coupe is a hit with folks who matter the most-our readers.

Although our '86 Mustang is equipped with a T-top, it shouldn't be confused with traditional open-air rides such as customized convertibles, street-rod-style roadsters, and other cars that may or may not have fixed permanent front or rear glass.

Ford makes sure all Mustangs leave the assembly line with DOT-approved, tempered (heat-treated) safety glass at all points. In most states, safety glass is mandatory on all motor vehicles except motorcycles, and not having it could suspend the registration of a nonconforming 'Stang. Our project car currently fits that nonconformist bill.

Windshield replacement begins with removal of a 'Stang's original front glass. The crew at Johns Customz and Performance extracted the factory windshield.

The coupe's front and rear windshields-the glass in the back is technically a windshield, too-have been gone for more than a year, and we have to admit that they've been missed-especially during the winter months, when the absence of glass had us shivering like wet dogs when we worked on the car outside or with the shop's door rolled up.

Now that the 'Stang moves under its own steam and as we get closer to actually getting out on the road and driving it, encapsulating the cabin by adding a new windshield and reinstalling the original rear glass is something that has to be done. Not only will the addition of glass be protection from the elements, the two windshields will also give our project more of a finished look, which is something the coupe has needed for a while.

Naturally, the glass used in a 'Stang or any motorcar is far from being the same type of material the windows in your home are made of. Safety is critical, so Ford and other auto-makers use fully tempered glass windshields and windows in all its vehicles.

A special hook tool, similar to the one shown, is used to cut away the seal between the glass and the pinch welds on our 'Stang's body.

The tempered glass, also called "hardened glass," is safe because it's 4 to 12 times stronger than plate glass, depending on the hardening process used. It has a surface-compression threshold of 10,000 psi or more and an edge-compression limit of 9,700 psi or more. The glass also has a unique fracture pattern. When broken, it fractures into small fragments, reducing the likelihood of injury in an accident, as there wouldn't be any jagged edges or sharp shards from a 'Stang's broken windshield or window.

The following photos and captions depict installation of the project car's front and rear glass, as well as related tasks we handled-dashpad/rear package-tray installs and windshield-trim preparation-while the spaces were still wide open.

Alex and Roberto of All Star Glass in Van Nuys, California, are the stars in this installation effort. They're the professional glass guys who gave us a hand with our T-top coupe's windshields, making sure the glass was seated perfectly on the body to ensure we won't have any issues with wind or water leaks when we finally get the car on the road.

As our coupe is an LX model, it features chromed, aluminum window trim as original equipment. With new glass going in and taking the coupe's Deep Black paint job into consideration, we decided to take Editor Turner's suggestion [That's a first.-Ed.] and black out the trim pieces surrounding the front and rear windshields. Our 'Stang buddy, Frank Ross, set us up with a set of OEM black trim pieces that are perfect for the changeover. The paint is faded or chipped in various areas, so we're sprucing up everything before the day arrives. The first steps of trim resto is to scuff-sand each piece of trim with 400-grit sandpaper, then wash or thoroughly blow off the pieces with air.

Although it isn't required, we prep each piece of windshield trim with Dupli-Color's Self-Etching Primer, which can be bought at any local auto-parts retailer. Although manually sanding the aluminum pieces is fine, the primer etches-puts tiny scratches in-the trim and promotes maximum adhesion of the paint for a smooth, clean finish. Note our use of a spray-can top as a small pedestal for parts being painted. It ensures we don't miss any areas when the parts are sprayed.

For best results, we recommend using spray paint in sunny, warm, and calm-wind conditions for projects similar to ours. Dupli-Color's Truck, Van, and SUV Universal Black Acrylic Lacquer (PN T100) is the color we selected for our trim refurbishing. Once painted with three coats, the pieces are left in the sun for 30 minutes of drying time.

The pieces are then shot with heavy doses of Krylon's Crystal Clear Gloss Acrylic clearcoat (PN 1301) for a super shine and paint protection. We like using the Paint Trigger pistol-style spray handle from Rust-Oleum (PN 7899). We recommend it for smooth application of rattle-can primers, paints, and clearcoats.

Our 'Stang was prepped for the glass installation when we worked on it in the body shop. At that time, the original windshield adhesive was scraped away and the areas were thoroughly cleaned, as they needed to be free of impurities that could have contaminated the paint job. Alex and Roberto prep the coupe by applying a pinch-weld primer to the body, then cleaning the new glass and applying primer to its perimeter. Nothing beats doctors who make house calls-All Star Glass handled the entire process in the cozy confines of the driveway, and made brisk work of it at that.

Windshields are secured with urethane adhesive. The exact type of material used depends on temperature, humidity, and the amount of time a vehicle can be out of service when glass is installed. Temps in our area of SoCal can soar to 105 degrees in the summer, so Alex uses thick, even beads of high-temp polyure-thane around the front and rear window openings. In general, it can take between 30 minutes and 24 hours for the adhesive to be cured enough for driving the car. Although the adhesive Alex selected sets quickly, we're allowing a full day for it to settle with the windshields in place.

Once the windshields are set in place, centered, and leveled, Alex and Roberto begin installing our freshly painted trim pieces.

Once installed and with trim in place, Alex gives our new windshield a good cleaning to get rid of fingerprints and offer us a nice, clear view from the driver seat.

The trim strips are attached to the 'Stang with small clips, similar to the one shown in the photo. They mount onto small studs in the windshield channel; OEM studs can be replaced with rivets if they're broken. These pieces are important because without them, there's no way a Mustang's windshield trim can be reinstalled.

We found replacement clips in the Latemodel Restoration Supply catalog (PN LRS-42413A for the windshield and LRS-42413B for the rear glass; $3.95/each). The front windshield's trim requires 13 clips, and the trim on the rear takes 14 fasteners. Alex carefully places the lower windshield trim into place. Unlike the other trim strips, this piece is made of plastic and is susceptible to snapping if too much pressure is applied.

Although the rear glass is original, Alex and Roberto perform the same installation steps as they did for the new front windshield. The Dark Limo window tint, by Formula One Professional Glass Tinting, on the glass and the T-top panels works well with the coupe's body color. While the police might not like it too much, the tint job is legal, and it gives our project 'Stang the can't-see-inside-from-behind-the-car look we want for the street.

The new front windshield features a mounting tab for the rearview mirror. This initially was a concern, as we were unaware that new windshields include this tab and thought we would have to take measurements from another 'Stang to determine the exact position of the mirror. Thanks to the swap meet we browsed through while attending a dyno day at GTR High Performance, this rearview mirror assembly was procured for only one dollar.

Screwing down the coupe's original cowl vent is the finishing touch for our windshield installation.

Not having a windshield in place made measuring, cutting, and reinstalling the coupe's dashboard and new dashpad around the rollcage tubes a lot easier.

We felt we should take the opportunity to install our T-top coupe's replacement dashpad and rear package tray while the 'Stang didn't have a front windshield or rear glass.

Both components require a small amount of trimming for correct fitment with the rollcage tubing and the windshields, a clean installation is all but impossible with the glass in place.

Making changes to our Dash-Top dashpad is fairly easy. The cover is made from a flexible, rubbery material and can bend far without breaking. That allows us to mount the pad directly against the front rollcage tubes for a near-factory look.

For the Andy Burnett package tray, we asked Ryan "Junior" Shostle of DS Racing to help us modify and fit the sheetmetal piece, which gives the back of our 'Stang's interior a nice, finished appearance.