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.