Rob Kinnan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
July 18, 2017

With our Week To Wicked Mustang now painted and back in our Santa Ana, CA Tech Center, it was time to start reassembling it in preparation for the week of intense work to transform the car from nice to over-the-top.

Check out the video for a teaser of the installation details of the AM Hot Rod Glass (AMHRG, acrylic windows that were flush-fit to our Mustang front and rear, with the bulk of the labor done by the company’s President Carmen Belanger-Martin. All of the side glass—doors, vent windows, and quarter windows—are also being converted to AM’s acrylic windows, and the end result is full-custom. This is the same product used by world-class builders like RingBrothers, Troy Trepanier and Troy Ladd, and it’s also the same stuff used for fighter plane cockpits, off-shore boats, and so much more. Trick products make for trick cars, and that’s just what we got here.

Forms of these windows have been around for years, primarily used in race cars for their light weight compared to glass—commonly called Lexan or plexiglass windows. The major drawback to those windows was that they scratch very easily, especially in the case of windshields. Plus they offered near zero protection against impact and had excessive distortion when trying to see through them, more so when the window was curved. Those aren’t an issue with AM Hot Rod Glass; it is 100 percent optically clear and scratch coated. There is no distortion even in the case of radically curved windshields like 1950s cars. Remember, AMHRG also does F-16 fighter cockpits so there can’t be even a hint of distortion when trying to see out of them.

AM’s acrylic windows are all custom-fit, meaning they are curved to exactly match the stock windows but are sent oversize and need to be carefully cut to fit the opening. That’s partly because factory stock cars like our Mustang have a ton of production tolerances (they were built in the 1960s after all), but also to allow builders to fit them to custom cars like chopped vehicles. Builders like RingBrothers don’t do anything “stock” and that’s primarily who Aero-Marine (the AM in the name) was aiming for when they began doing automotive windows.

Because of the custom nature of the windows, installation is far more involved than just dropping in a new windshield or rear window. The key is the use an exaggerated version of the old carpenter’s rule of “measure twice cut once.” You need to really carefully sneak up on the fitment, doing one “side” of the window at a time. For instance, get the windshield’s bottom edge dialed-in to the opening, then work from there. Carmen and her helper Justin have done this many times and it still took her a full day to get the windshield and rear window ready for final installation. Take your time, have patience, and the end result will be spectacular. Another benefit to the AM Hot Rod Glass is that the acrylic windows shaved an astounding 33 pounds off of our ’66 Mustang, and the lighter weight saves wear and tear on the side windows and regulators. Plus, the total glass area (what you see out of) is larger than glass because of the extended margins front and rear.

You may be wondering about how much the AM Hot Rod Glass windows cost; that depends on how you want them—clear or tinted, flush-mount or stock fitment. Because of that and their custom nature, it’s difficult to put an exact price on them but the windows we installed in this 1966 are in the $3,500 to $4,000 range. Yes, it’s more expensive than stock glass windows, but then you can’t flush-mount stock windows for a full-custom look.

1. To allow the end user the ability to custom-fit the windows, they are delivered a few inches oversize and need to be carefully cut to fit.

2. The bottom corners of the windshield presented the hardest decision when fitting the windows. Normally, this area is covered by the stainless windshield trim piece, but in the case of the flush mount we had to determine how much of this area to cover and still leave enough of a gap between the glass and the sheetmetal.

3. Measure thrice, cut once. The first step was centering the windshield in place and marking it for future reference during the cut-to-fit process.

4. Carmen snuck up on the final window size by grinding, checking, cutting, checking again—rinse repeat until the fit is perfect.

5. Once the window is fit to the opening, the edges are ground with a slight bevel on the mounting side to allow the silicone sealer to more correctly fill the gap and seal out weather.

6. The last step before placing the windshield in the opening is to smooth the edges. Carmen used a belt sander with 60-grit paper.

7. This is the bottom edge of the rear window as supplied, to give you an idea of how much trimming is required.

8. The final fit of the windshield at the top edge, prior to silicon sealing it into place.

9. These little rubber blocks spaced the front and rear windows out enough from the sheetmetal to allow silicone to fill the gap and completely seal the windows.

10. Carmen hired a glass installer to silicone the front and rear windows into place. They laid on black primer to prevent any orange body color from showing through.

11. A rechargeable caulking gun made quick work of laying a thick bead of silicone.

12. The installer used a business card and his finger to smooth the silicone. Notice the painter’s tape: it was used to keep silicone off of the paint.

13. Remove the tape.

14. Ta da! A flush-mount acrylic windshield. Look custom, no?

15. The vent window glass was also replaced with acrylic. We polished the stock vent frames and added new rubber from Scott Drake.

16. The stock window frames were cleaned up and re-used with the acrylic windows. These are the quarter windows.

17. One door window needed to be trimmed on the leading edge by roughly 1/8-inch on one side and then slid right into place.

More on our Week to Wicked 1966 Ford Mustang Build!

Week to Wicked 1966 Mustang Build Coming Soon!
Coming July 17: Week To Wicked 1966 Mustang
Week To Wicked 1966 Mustang: Day 1
Week To Wicked 1966 Mustang: Day 1 GALLERY
Week To Wicked 1966 Mustang: Flush-Mount Acrylic Windows!

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