Home » I’m Not Sure How I’ve Never Heard Of This Weird Old Volkswagen Feature Or If I Even Am Sure It’s Real

I’m Not Sure How I’ve Never Heard Of This Weird Old Volkswagen Feature Or If I Even Am Sure It’s Real

Vw W56windshield Top
ADVERTISEMENT

There’s been an unusual Volkswagen Beetle-related picture making the rounds on the internet recently, and it’s one that has me very confused. I noticed it on the East Coast Ovals Instagram account, an account that specializes in split- and oval-window VW Beetles, which means Beetles made from their birth in 1938 to 1957, when that famous Italian suggested the rear window be enlarged on the Beetle. In this recent post that caught my attention, they showed a close-up shot of a Beetle with a smashed windshield. Only the windshield wasn’t completely smashed; a circular area in front of the driver appeared to remain, somehow, unshattered. What the hell is going on here?

You can see the image up above there, and the accompanying text provides some clues as well, stating:

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

“Here’s a fact that I wasn’t aware of. In 56 and part of 57 the windshields had an area directly in front of the driver that was laminated. If the glass broke this area would remain clear so the driver could continue. Genius”

Uhh, what? I’ll admit I wasn’t aware of this, either, like, at all. And I’ve been looking at the optional codes known as M-codes sheets trying to find some sort of reference to this, but so far no luck. Sure, there’s references to laminated windshields, but those all seem to be entirely-laminated windshields, the type that has been required in American market cars for decades and decades. A partially-laminated window? That I’ve never heard of.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by eastcoastovals (@eastcoastovals)

And yet there it is, clear in that picture, a strange circle of clear glass surrounded by shattered glass. Why wouldn’t they have just laminated the whole thing? Was this cheaper, somehow? And just when I started to feel really skeptical, I noticed these two comments:

ADVERTISEMENT

Confirmreplies

Huh. So, these do sound like confirmations, or at least collaborations. I haven’t been able to confirm that what these commenters are saying as absolutely true, but it would sure be a weird thing to lie about, right?

So, maybe VW was doing this, just laminating a circle in front of the driver? If so, they were sure keeping it quiet; it doesn’t show up in VW’s own What Year Is It? guide that chronicles the changes to the Beetle, year by year:

56whatyear

So. I’m as confused as ever. It’s certainly possible that there’s a strange VW Beetle option I’ve not heard of, but this one is deeply strange, and I know it would have caught my attention. Why is there so little about it online? Other one-or-two-year-only options get plenty of attention; why not this? Perhaps because it’s almost invisible until there’s an incident that shatters a windshield, and nobody wants that? Were partially-laminated windshields common on other cars? Could this be related to the strange defroster-helping windshields with an extra glass panel in front of the driver that I’ve seen on old ice racers?

ADVERTISEMENT

I’m so curious now, but so far out of answers. So I’m asking all of you, my favorite car-obsessives: what’s going on here? Have any of you ever encountered a partially-laminated windshield situation like this? I’m dying to know!

 

Relatedbar

 

This Video Of An Old Mine Filled With Old VW Beetles And Golfs Has A Mystery

These Chunky Bumper Guards That Washed Your Headlights Are The Holy Grail Of VW Accessories

It’s Time To Address A VW Beetle Horsepower Mystery That’s Been Bothering Me For Decades

ADVERTISEMENT
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
40 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Evan Shealy
Evan Shealy
23 days ago

I’m not sure how you only laminate a portion of a windshield. Is there only this small piece of glass laminated to one side? Is it two layers of glass and they only bones that one area? The whole thing sounds odd. In that the windshield is supposedly shattered and still in place, I would say the whole windshield is laminated.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
25 days ago

My mom would spread a bit of Vaseline on part of the windshield to keep the frost from adhering. Blurry was better than nothing. Defrost in those old bugs was just wishful thinking.

Eventually the windshield was laminated…

…to the back of a flatbed.

Black Peter
Black Peter
25 days ago

If this was tempered glass, and it was possible to prevent the propagation of the break to that area, that area would simply fall in your lap. Tempered glass (like side windows) shatter into tiny pieces, too small (one hopes) to injure the occupant. Windshields are laminated to prevent shards from getting into your eyes. I don’t see a conbination of the three types, tempered, stressed and laminated being created to make this picuture a reality.

If anything what we might be seeing is something applied to the window to prevent fogging or frost. Back in the day we applied a plastic film to the inside of the visor on our motorcycle helmets. It was only adhesive on the very edge, creating a tiny “pocket” of air. This pocket was excellent at preventing the visor from fogging up. This extra film on the window could also explain the “corroborating” comments you found on the forum.

Rhymes With Bronco
Rhymes With Bronco
26 days ago

At first glance, I thought the photo was showing an icy windshield with a clear spot from the defroster. Then I realized that the defroster in a Bug could never clear such a big area. My ‘68 convertible could clear a spot the size of a quarter about 2 inches from the base of the windshield once the car had warmed up for an hour.

Berni Roil
Berni Roil
26 days ago

Hi! The photograph was taken by my grandfather, Walter Roil, in the early 1970s. The windshield broke in the pattern seen in the photo. He told me the story and many years later I found this and another photographs that prove it. It was the first time the windshield was broken, so it was factory original since my grandfather bought the car in 1957. I still own the car in perfect condition, I use it almost daily.

Berni Roil
Berni Roil
25 days ago

yes, sure!!

Spectre6000
Spectre6000
26 days ago

I had a late-57 German market beetle once upon a time. I’d hazard a guess that the lack of awareness of this feature boils down to a) windshields are a consumable, and even the much longer lasting European tempered glass windshields (of which I had one on my ’57 German market Karmann Ghia, and it was terrifying to drive at night because of how sandblasted it was) are long gone by now. And b) American car culture is the type that focuses on these things, and it’s not as much of a thing abroad; fully laminated windshields were standard/required in the US by ’56, and we would not have had them.

Clark B
Clark B
26 days ago

Though not the same, this reminds me of something on my 72 Super Beetle. When I got it (almost 20 years ago!) there was a spot on the passenger side of the windshield where the glass was delaminating. It looked a bit like the spot a brain might leave if it hit the windshield, best way to describe it. It was even brain-sized. But as the years went on, the spot diminished and is now completely gone. No idea what happened, but it’s kept me from needing a new windshield.

Sundance
Sundance
26 days ago

I made this experience some years ago when I had a ’57 oval bug. Screaming along on the Autobahn (with my not-original 44hp power house) from Kiel to Hamburg suddenly my screen burst in the way your picture shows. I would say, there was no lamination involved, the crumbled glass had no signs of any safety film or so, it was definitely only one layer of glass.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
26 days ago

In the winters of Colorado most of our VWs looked like this. A tiny circle of clear glass for the driver (Mom) to peer out of. And that came from the defroster, as she could never find her ice scraper.

My wife would pull that same crap with her truck. A tiny frickin’ hole to peer out of.
Seriously. I would go out early each morning just to scrape her windshield. Even after hitting a deer at 6 am on her way to work, she still was in too much of a rush to clean the damn glass off. God bless that crazy ass woman.

Some of the stupidest shit I ever saw.

The picture is a good one, as the illusion looks like, well you know…

Last edited 26 days ago by Col Lingus
Berni Roil
Berni Roil
26 days ago
Reply to  Col Lingus

The picture was taken by my grandfather. The photography is authentic and so is the event. I don’t see what the point would be in publishing such an elaborate lie.

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
26 days ago

This was Volkswagen’s attempt to show how the future would look driving a Camaro.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
26 days ago

If it’s real and not a prank, it would have to be some kind of applique on the inside. However, from what little I understand about glass, stopping cracking in a perfect circle seems highly unlikely.

Given that there appears to be no evidence other than a single photo (photochop?), I lean more towards it being someone or someones funnin’ with the world.

Ron888
Ron888
26 days ago

Thanks for the link Fuzz.
So it’s partly not-tempered,rather than partly laminated. Is that the correct way to say it?

Greensoul
Greensoul
26 days ago

What…The…Fuck! Was this VW’s clear view windshield feature to pray to Jesus during your last moments of life after hitting a tree or semi head on???? Totally f-ed up. At first glance, I thought it was frost or ice on the surrounding windshield and that clear spot was the one little teeny tiny area the beetles shitty “defroster” would clear for your view out front.

Flyingstitch
Flyingstitch
26 days ago

In the top image, it looks like a dinosaur is leaning in reaaallllly close to check out the driver. That’s all I’ve got.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
26 days ago

Or, just kick the windshield out and drive to the closest body shop with your sunglasses on and mouth closed, like I do every time a tree limb falls on my car

Tony Mantler
Tony Mantler
26 days ago

I thought this must absolutely be BS, but I did a reverse image search and found this forum thread with both the picture shown in this article, along with a number of others showing the same feature.

I suspect that it’s not “partially laminated” but rather that the windshield is made out of tempered glass, and the circular section is covered up during the chilling process to leave it in an annealed state.

I don’t think it would be physically possible to partially laminate a windshield, as the lamination is a plastic film that goes between two layers of glass, so you’d just end up with an air gap around the small patch of lamination, and it wouldn’t stop cracks from propagating across the laminated section.

Dumb Shadetree
Dumb Shadetree
26 days ago
Reply to  Tony Mantler

Thank you for the link! I was also dubious but that has me convinced it was real.

SubieSubieDoo
SubieSubieDoo
26 days ago

Jason – I’ve been in the commercial glazing industry for over 20 years. It’s physically impossible to only laminate a small part of a glass unit without laminating all of it, or in this case, a partially laminated windshield.

The laminating process is like making a grilled cheese sandwich. The glass is the two pieces of bread on the outside and the safety layer (PVB or SGP) is the cheese. The whole thing gets heated and pressed and presto!, you have a laminated, grilled cheese windshield. During the lamination process they can’t heat it too much to make it pliable as the lamination layer will run out and become milky or create distortion. It’s a fine temperature window to properly laminate glass and keep it ocularly clear.

The other thing to think about is tempered glass is designed to break into a million pieces and then fall safely to the floor without slicing up your face, arms, or anything else between the windshield and seat. Laminated glass is designed to break into a single piece, but the “melted cheese” is designed to hold it in place. There might be a couple of sharp slivers that come off laminated glass (annealed, not tempered), but it will typically stay in place.

Laminated glass WILL get a circular break when it tries to expand in the sun but it’s pinched on multiple sides. The stress has to go somewhere, which is the reason Cybertrucks are getting radius fracture patterns in their roof skylight glass. The glass is too tight inside of the roof frame.

https://www.reddit.com/r/CyberStuck/comments/1d72bbj/yet_another_cybertruck_with_a_circular_roof_crack/

Last edited 26 days ago by SubieSubieDoo
Patrick
Patrick
26 days ago
Reply to  SubieSubieDoo

“The whole thing gets heated and pressed and presto!, you have a laminated, grilled cheese windshield”

-read in Bullwinkle’s voice

SubieSubieDoo
SubieSubieDoo
26 days ago
Reply to  Patrick

The way I described it is a bit of an oversimplification, but that’s basically the way it works.

“Hey Rocky! Watch as I pull a laminated windshield out of my hat!”

SubieSubieDoo
SubieSubieDoo
26 days ago
Reply to  SubieSubieDoo

https://youtu.be/kRi0s3cMg2U?feature=shared

How It’s Made does a better job of showing how windshields are made than I ever could.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
26 days ago
Reply to  SubieSubieDoo

Aw, Bullwinkle, that never works!

Last edited 26 days ago by TOSSABL
Velo
Velo
26 days ago
Reply to  SubieSubieDoo

Someone else posted this link https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=342785
Supposedly tempered, not laminated.

SubieSubieDoo
SubieSubieDoo
26 days ago
Reply to  Velo

Read the thread and understood. My comment was in reply to these two sentences in Jason’s article:

A partially-laminated window? That I’ve never heard of.

Velo
Velo
26 days ago
Reply to  SubieSubieDoo

Yeah I was thinking the same thing until I saw that forum post. Solves the mystery for me lol. Appreciate your original insight tho!

Clive Wilson
Clive Wilson
26 days ago

This was a thing in other cars, too. Our family’s 1969 Holden Kingswood HT wagon had a toughened glass windscreen with a laminated area in front of the driver.

The idea of course was that if a stone hit the screen, the driver would still have enough visibility to steer the car to a stop at the side of the road.

Fuzz
Fuzz
26 days ago
Velo
Velo
26 days ago
Reply to  Fuzz

This says it’s tempered with gas torches (ha), not laminated. That makes waaaay more sense, based on their explanations. Although I don’t know anything, it just sounds correct lol.

SubieSubieDoo
SubieSubieDoo
26 days ago
Reply to  Velo

Torches and “quenching” with air jets is the process for tempering. The piece of glass rolls back and forth between the torches and is quenched for multiple amount of times. The thicker the glass the more times this happens.

When you’re looking at a piece of glass on a building or on a car and see waves, it’s called roller wave. The rollers the glass was riding on were too large for the thickness of glass and the arc of the roller transferred to the glass. Roller wave looks like ripples in the glass surface when reflecting light.

Sorry for glass nerding on you!

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
26 days ago
Reply to  SubieSubieDoo

No, thank you for nerding all over us. Please continue to do so as often as you like. I for one sincerely appreciate it!

I pretend to know things and factoids like these really help in maintaining that fiction. From now on any time wavy glass comes up, you can bet your ass everyone’s gonna hear about oversized rollers.

SubieSubieDoo
SubieSubieDoo
25 days ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

Thanks for the positive reinforcement. It’s rare that glass nerd information is valuable outside of an architect’s office, so glad I could bring some “clarity” on the situation to The Autopian.

Rusty S Trusty
Rusty S Trusty
26 days ago
Reply to  SubieSubieDoo

You answered questions I didn’t even realize I had.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
26 days ago
Reply to  SubieSubieDoo

Well, damn: thank you!
in the late 80s I did high-rise window cleaning all over the South. There were a group of buildings in the Research Triangle in NC that were wavey such that I had to slow way down and make sure the squeegee followed the glass along the edges or it would leave ripple-drips.

-hadn’t thought of that in years—and now I know why

Last edited 26 days ago by TOSSABL
Bob Boxbody
Bob Boxbody
26 days ago

This feels like BS to me, Jason. If the rest of the glass shatters to that extent, it’s not going to stop cracks from appearing in the laminated portion. Also, isn’t it the lamination which keeps shattered glass held together? So maybe you’d get a circle of laminated glass laying on the floor, alongside a bunch of glass shards?

Rob Schneider
Rob Schneider
26 days ago

If only you had some German speaking staff member with contacts across the pond that could contact VW and see if their corporate historian has any info…

Just a thought.

Last edited 26 days ago by Rob Schneider
Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
26 days ago

That just looks like somebody’s head went through the windshield.

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
26 days ago

I wonder if this was just some after-market product that never worked as advertised.

In theory a piece of clear plastic could be stuck on the inside of the windshield to provide some of the benefits of lamination. A round disc might have been thought to be the most practical: It doesn’t matter which way up you stick it and can cope with the varying curves of different windshields (at least to some extent).

On the other hand, if the rest of the glass breaks into a million pieces and isn’t stuck to a piece of plastic film, it’s probably going to collapse. I don’t think the little circle of un-shattered glass is really going to provide any benefit if it’s sitting in your lap.

40
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x