Evolution of Windshield Glass

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There are few innovative advances as pertinent to safety as the evolution of the modern windshield. Nowadays, windshields are one of the most tested and regulated parts of a car, as they support against roof collapses and airborne threat. Before the float glass of today, the composition and design of the windshield made fatality or serious injury extremely likely in a car crash or other automotive accident.

Thankfully, the make of windshields has seriously progressed since 1930. Below details the journey manufacturers have made since the original car design:

1930 – The first vehicle with a windshield and the second successful car overall was the Ford Model A. The Model A was revolutionary in many ways, including the introduction of the standard set of driver controls: brake pedals, the gearshift, and the throttle. The common complaint: the windshield. The Model A’s laminated safety glass windshield did not last long.

1934 – Chevy Imperials ushered in a new era of windshield design with the introduction of curved glass. This glass improved aerodynamics and decreased drag. Overall, this windshield was much safer than those previous because of its sturdy build.

1948 – The 1940s was a huge decade of innovation, in more ways than one. The Tucker 48 featured a “pop-out” windshield intended to prevent injury. The manufacturers believed that a removable windshield would lower the risk of concussions or wounds from the glass; however, the design almost immediately backfired – only 51 Tucker 48s were made before the manufacturer went out of business. Now, most mechanics recommend taking preventative measures against your windshield popping out.

1951 – Three years later, the Chevy Corvette featured a new type of windshield. This car was the first to have a Panoramic Wrap-Around that remained popular for most of the ’50s. The Panhard Panoramique, the Buick XP-300, the Oldsmobile Fiesta, the De Soto Fireflite, and the Roadmaster were all popular vehicles with the Panoramic. However, over time, consumers realized the wrap-arounds had major distortion issues and after so many complaints, the windshields had to be discontinued.

1966 – This year, car manufacturers rolled out laminated windshields. This material was much safer than Panoramic and was a lot easier and more affordable to mass produce.

1980 – Nearly two decades later, after a change in the skeletal structure of cars, automobile creators began experimenting with a second inner layer of polycarbonate to again lower the level of auto accident-related injuries. Quickly, however, consumers noticed problems in the design – polycarbonate windshields were much too difficult to clean.

1990 – The Porsche 964 C2 brought the popular thermal windshield. Though the thick exterior prevented some signals to GPS systems, overall thermals were widely successful. This is still the most popular windshield today.

Today, manufacturers are continually making improvements to safety, often through the windshield.

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