This category covers establishments primarily engaged in the installation, repair, or sales and installation of automotive glass. The sale of the glass is considered incidental to the replacement.
Automotive Glass Replacement Shops
Automotive glass replacement shops catered to such common problems as windshields that were cracked or punctured — either by stones and other debris thrown up by the road — or by the sharp difference in temperature between the interior and exterior surfaces during the winter. They also repaired damage to other glass areas found on automobiles, as well as stopped leaks — traditionally one of the most challenging problem areas to correct. None of these repairs was of a type that drivers were likely to attempt for themselves.
Three types of businesses were available to fix and install automotive glass: those undertaking various kinds of glass repairs; those specializing in automotive glass; and those working on all parts of a vehicle body, including glass. Many repair businesses specializing in automotive glass were franchises connected to large chains.
The earliest automobiles were open bodied and traveled at such low speeds that windshields were hardly necessary. Only when automobiles became significantly faster and featured closed construction did the windshield and windows become significant features of automotive design, and hence of automotive repair.
Windshields were first introduced as an option on Ford's Model T in 1909, but became standard on all automobiles within a couple of decades. Windshields were originally flat, mounted at a right angle to the body of the vehicle, and upon shattering, would fly apart in numerous sharp fragments. As Caleb Hornbostel noted in Construction Materials, "Laminated glass was evolved as a result of developments within the automobile industry and to a lesser extent the plastic industry. The tremendous demand for shatter-proof glass for the closed automobile (in the late 1990s, over 90 percent of the total production of automobiles were closed cars) stimulated the glass industry into producing laminated glass."
Another important innovation occurred in 1932 when the French developed tempered glass. Although it eventually became the standard for side and rear windows, "tests demonstrated that tempered glass wouldn't work in windshields. While its resistance was great, it broke into patterns on impact that were so dense that vision was impaired," according to James L. Polak in Automotive Engineering. In addition, the very toughness of tempered glass represented a hazard when windshields were struck by the head of a driver or passenger in the event of an accident or sudden stop. Unlike laminated glass, it was too hard to give way, and thus could thus potentially cause severe injuries.
Though laminated glass would yield under such circumstances and could also be cracked more easily than tempered glass, its construction...