OALEAD

After months of tireless work in the Power Automedia garage, we’re getting down to the nitty gritty final details on our Project Evil 8.5 Ford Mustang, with a planned testing date coming in less than two weeks of this writing. With the engine in the car, the suspension upgrades all complete, and the wiring and plumbing checked off the list, among the final pieces to the puzzle are the windows, and once again, we’ve turned to the folks at Optic Armor Performance Windows to help us outfit our Outlaw 8.5-class machine with some impressively clear, durable, and long-lasting windows.

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Our window kit from Optic Armor, including blacked-out front and rear windows, and oversized side door and rear quarters.

Longtime readers of Dragzine know that this is certainly not our first project to carry Optic Armor windows, and given the success that we — and countless others, including almost the entire cast of Street Outlaws — have had, we can attest that their polycarbonate windows are every bit as good as the reviews say they are.

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After getting our measurements and confirming everything, the windows are carefully trimmed down to size.

Rather than a plexiglass (which is what most assume aftermarket, non-glass race windows are made of), Optic Armor uses polycarbonate, which is a highly durable thermoplastic polymer that can be easily thermoformed and shaped, which allows Optic Armor to produce windows purpose-made for a wide range of vehicles that fit the exact contours of OEM glass. The material, combined with Optic Armor’s top-secret coating, gives the windows shockingly-impressive impact and scratch resistance. How strong? About 250 times that of typical OEM glass. And it’s lightweight, as well, as we illustrated side-by-side with OEM glass in this detailed install last year.

We sourced a rubber weatherstrip from Jerry Bickel Race Cars, which is part of a larger window kit that includes all of the fasteners needed for installation. The first step was to lay the rubber in place around the perimeter of the window to lay out our boltholes, which are placed about four inches apart.

“Our stuff is the best of both worlds, between regular polycarbonate and glass,” explains Optic Armor’s Jim Dunham.

“You get a highly scratch-resistant, shatter-resistant, lightweight window. With glass, it’s heavy and it breaks, but it doesn’t scratch as easily, while regular polycarbonate is shatter-resistant and light, but it scratches really easily. But with our coating, it gives you the best of both worlds.”

Once the holes were marked, we removed the rubber and place it in a vise to punch the holes.

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Here, the guys in the Power Automedia garage punch the final holes in the body.

In the automotive realm, Optic Armor has two variants of their windows: Drop-In Black Outs (DIBO) and Oversized. The DIBOS’s are specifically made as OEM replacements, and, as such, have the exact same dimensions and have to be installed just as the factory glass was, utilizing the factory trim molding. Optic Armor has a growing number of makes and models of vehicles they’re producing these for — your usual suspects like the Fox-body Mustangs, later model Corvettes, most generations of the Camaro, but also late model Jeeps and even the Lotus Elise.

Here, you can see the holes being pressed into the rubber for our window screws. Not much to it, but you certainly want to be accurate so as to not ruin the rubber.

The Oversized windows, which we opted for on Evil 8.5, however, are produced for a wider variety of makes and models, and offer greater flexibility in installation.

“We offer the oversized versions for the customer that wishes to flush mount the window to the body, without using the trim molding,” Dunham explains.

(Left) Test-fitting the holes in the body. (Right) The holes have been drilled and countersinks cut in the window, preparing it for final installation.

“The drop-in windows are cut to the factory glass dimensions for the purpose of installing them like a factory window and providing a stock like appearance once installed.”

Evil 8.5 Window Part Numbers

Windshield: OA-MUS791-2
Rear: OA-MUS7996C-2
Left Door: OA-MUS792-2
Right Door: OA-MUS792-2
Left Quarter: OA-MUS794-2
Right Quarter: OA-MUS795-2

With Evil 8.5, we’ve opted to do away with the trim moldings in order to flush-mount the windows. Given the nature of the vehicle, we’ll also be countersinking and screwing all of the windows to the body so there aren’t any sudden “fresh air” surprises later.

There are a variety of ways you can go about this installation. As we illustrated in a previous install article, mounting blocks (made of aluminum or some other metals) can be welded to the window lip all the way around to provide a “platform” for the front and rear windows to sit on. In that install, the raised block and screw method was combined with weatherstripping to create a nearly bulletproof (maybe overkill) anchoring method to the car. For street-style cars that don’t endure the kind of vibrations or speeds that a racecar encounters, you can get away with the OEM-type adhesive weatherstripping by itself.

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The fully installed front windshield in the car.

With Evil 8.5, we decided to simplify the process by sourcing a window installation kit from Jerry Bickel Race Cars (P/N JBRC5020). This kit comes with 15-feet of rubber (in 1/4-, 3.8-, 1/2-, or 3/4-inch thickness depending on your needs), 50 8-32 x 1-inch (#8 screws with a 32 thread pitch) countersunk stainless steel screws, 50 8-32 lock nuts, and a tube of rubber strip adhesive.

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In the next installment, we’ll highlight the installation of the door lever and upper door latches in our door windows, using components sourced from Jerry Bickel Race Cars.

Because we didn’t have a factory or aftermarket rear window to use as a template for our windshield and rear window, we had to break out the tape measure and measure out our initial cuts. Of course, we went a little oversized and then trimmed down from there, since our goal was to get the window as close to the edge of the body as possible, eliminating any need for the trim molding or a rubber seal to create a nice, clean finished look.

To begin the install process, we laid out each of the mounting screw locations and pre-drilled them into the body lip. Then we matched the hole locations to the windows and drilled our holes, followed by the countersink using a 45-degree countersink drill bit. Once complete, the rubber lining was laid into place on the body lip, the window lowered into position, and all of the screws installed.

IMG_7837Both the windshield and rear window were provided as black-outs from Optic Armor, leaving us one less step in the install. The driver’s and passenger’s side door windows, as well as the quarters, however, come generously oversized, meaning we’d need to paint the black-outs in ourselves once the windows were cut down to size. To do this, we masked off the windows where we wanted the black-out and then scuffed the window with a heavy-grit sandpaper to provide some grip for the paint.

The rear window dropped into place. As you can see at right, the flush-mounted window went according to plan, with virtually zero gap in the body lip at the edges, which is exactly what you want to ensure a nice, professional appearance.

Because the Fox-body doors feature a full frame all the way around — unlike our F-body BlownZ project — there wasn’t any need to fabricate a window frame. One less step is a great thing when we’re pushing to get on-track. Like the front and rear windows, we spaced out the mounting holes roughly every 4-inches, drilled and countersunk our screw holes, and mounted the windows. As we’ll highlight in the next story in our installments in a few weeks, holes were also cut with a hole saw for the door handles and upper window latches, both from Bickel, during the assembly process, as well.

(Left) After cutting the rear quarter window down to size, we needed to paint the black-out. This is done by taping off the unpainted portion of the window, sanding the interior side of the window down with some higher-grit sandpaper, and then applying the special window paint.

The last piece of the puzzle is the rear quarter windows. Optic Armor supplies these as generously oversized squares that can be cut to shape. We were able to create a template from the existing windows to make the cut and, like the door windows, blacked them out before installation.

With all of the windows in the car, that brings us to the assembly and install of the door lever and latches, which we sourced from Jerry Bickel as part of a larger collection of parts that were used throughout the build of the car. In the next installment, we’ll take a closer look at each of those components. Stay tuned!