Whether restoration of classic cars is your hobby or your business, your objective is to bring this automobile back to its former state, as close to its “like new” days. Rarely, does car glass escape, at least some surface scratches, but probably deeper scratches as well. If you’re restoring a car that had high production numbers, the chances are good that there are aftermarket reproduction parts available for your car. Some examples are, 65-72 Ford Mustang and 67-77 Chevrolet Camaro. Now, there are companies that make reproduction glass for these classic cars and are even able to reproduce the date code or “bug” etched into the glass!
If you’re restoring a 1967 Chevy Camaro, chances are good that you can find original glass somewhere since they produced 842,731 of these cars. But there are aftermarket glass reproductions for this car as well. What about a 1965 Ford Mustang, an American classic? There were 559,451 of these cars made so chances are good you can find junkyard glass or aftermarket reproduction glass. Some aficionados are not willing to accept any glass that isn’t original. But their original glass is badly scratched, then what? The problem with classic car glass restoration mounts when production numbers are low. Then, it’s not cost effective to reproduce glass for these cars.
What if you’re the proud owner of, and planning to restore, one of my personal favorites, a 1958 BMW 507? There were only 253 produced. Chances of finding any restoration glass for that car are slim. Or maybe you are preparing to restore a 1967 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale and you need some glass because the original has significant scratches from years of wear and tear? Low production numbers can cause problems when trying to find glass for classic car restoration. Here are a few more notables : 1991 Jaguar XJR-15, Only 50 produced. 1964-1966 Lamborghini 350GT, Only 135 built. 1952-1953 Ferrari 250 MM, Only 31 produced. or a 1991-1995 Bugatti EB110, Only 139 ever made.
Glass “polishing” or glass “buffing” are somewhat deceptive expressions. When you are polishing something, you are attempting to smooth the surface or to bring to a glossy condition. Polishing alone is not actually the correct process to remove glass scratches from automotive glass. Attempting to polish any type of significant scratch from a glass surface will almost guarantee noticeable distortion.
Steps to restore classic car glass. First, you need to assess the damage. If the glass scratch is extremely light, it may be possible to polish it out with felt and high quality cerium oxide polish or paste. But realistically, the only damage to polish out would be classified more as a scuff and not necessarily a scratch. Next, the glass scratch needs to be removed by grinding, or abrading the damaged area with a very high quality silicon carbide wet/dry abrasive. The trick is to remove glass evenly around the scratch and feather it out into the surrounding area of glass. If the scratch is deep, then a suitable grit silicon carbide would be used. The trick is actually to remove the damage as quickly and evenly as possible. This goes against human nature. We tend to think the opposite would be true and to not be too aggressive. Regardless of how aggressive the grit of silicon carbide that is used, it can still be polished back to flawless clarity in 2-3 steps, total, including the polishing step!
What have we learned regarding removing deep scratches and restoring classic car glass? In our experience over 14 years in glass scratch removal, we have seen severely deep scratches, even gouges, in some of the glass that has been brought to us. For example, we restored some tempered glass side windows for a 1967 Lamborghini 400GT. The glass for this car is extremely curved and could create some problems when attempting to remove the glass evenly. To make matters worse, the scratches were on both side of the glass. On the exterior (convex side) the weatherstripping felt had completely disintegrated, exposing the rivets. In time, the regulator wore out and, for years, the glass would grind against the rivets, working actual gouges into the glass. The gouges were so deep, a nickel could rest on its edge in the curved gouge! I believe we started with 80 grit silicon carbide to remove the damage. We actually resurfaced the entire side glass, both sides! The cost to re-manufacture two side windows for this car was around $10,000 US. We were able to save both side windows for a fraction of that price. Classic car scratched glass is almost always salvageable. Is this type of glass restoration for beginners? Probably not. The good news is, there are a few companies that we know of that have been able to successfully restore classic car glass. Unscratch the Surface Inc is one of those companies. Feel free to contact us if you are in need of our classic car glass restoration service!
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