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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Rear Window: 6 GM coupes with dazzling back glass | Hagerty Media

When enthusiasts pick design details on vehicles to obsessively critique, the front-end bits usually get all the attention. Grilles, scoops, emblems, and ornaments are all proudly displayed in the front of a vehicle and clamor for attention. Nobody seems to have a favorite trunk.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/lists/rear-window-6-gm-coupes-with-dazzling-back-glass/
62 REPLIES 62
hyperv6
Gearhead

GM has been one of the few American companies to use glass as a styling element.

The F Body gen 2,3 and 4 used it. Pontiac 2+2, Eldorado, Barrettas Cutlass and a number of Corvettes.

ManybEurondesigner cars have used glass but in the states most have just stuck to the flat pane.
OldCarMan
Instructor

You may not know this, but Chrysler pioneered curved side glass in the late '50s.
relton
Detailer

I owned 4 Chevrolet B-Body coupes, 77 and 79. They are very handsome cars.
I still have the last of my El Caminos as well. The rear glass always reminded me of a Ferrari 308.
Bob
Boattailriv
New Driver

FYi, the 71-73 Riviera was not front wheel drive. I think you are confusing it with the Toronado.
audiobycarmine
Instructor

Forgot the 1967 Eldorado?
RickN
Intermediate Driver

All these are great examples, but what about the '61 GM bubble tops?
OldCarMan
Instructor

That was a non-design term used like "post car" instead of sedan.
WAB
Intermediate Driver

The 1963 to 67 Corvette coupe has always been one of my favorite designs.......I was able to purchase a very nice 1966 coupe in Mossport Green a couple years ago. Even being able to go out to the garage and pull back the car cover in the middle of winter reminds me of how timeless that design is. I always loved the "boat tail" Riviera, that was quite a statement in the early 70's. Thanks GM.
twa2471
Pit Crew

My 71 Rivi still turns heads, both on the street or at shows.

I absolutely love that car and bought it from a local and the original owner 11 years ago with 64K original miles and paint + original pink slip, title and all the service paperwork sense day 1. When I say local, they lived just 2 houses down the road from me and it sat in there garage covered for >20 years without being registered. Plus it was a Florida car to start with and was garaged and covered all it's life, so it came with 0 rust or cracked interior.
A truly incredible barn find IMHO and I consider myself very lucky to have it ,,,if I do say so myself !
She's named Lucille , after BB Kings guitar.
If you don't know the story, BB's guitar, Lucille, that made him famous, it was stolen during a bar fire he was playing at , and it took him > 12 years to find it again.

Which is exactly how many years of begging and pleading it took with the original owner before she FINALLY agreed to sell it to me.
Some times the ,,Old Iron Gods,, just smile on you and 11 years ago was one of those times for me.
greatscott73
Intermediate Driver

How about the 1959-60 GM sport sedan 4 doors with those huge wrap around rear windows?
TonyT
Instructor

The title of the article says "coupes." Despite what BMW says, a four door is not a coupe.
racingiron
New Driver

Contrary to what many believe, the term coupe, as applied to vehicles, has NOTHING to do with the number of doors! Coupé is the past participle of the French verb couper, which means to cut. When referring to a car, coupé is the short form of an older term, carrosse coupé, which means shortened carriage. Today, coupé refers to an enclosed car with a shortened body. So, while many of these shortened cars happen to be two-door, that certainly isn't a requirement.
MATTMERICA
Instructor

Particularly if you are BMW, they have a whole segment of "gran coupe" that nobody knows what the heck it means lol
oilbrnr
Pit Crew

Nice explanation. I wish you'd be more precise though.
Rider79
Instructor

Actually, historically in the US, in the common parlance, having two doors IS a requirement.
ThumperUSMC
Intermediate Driver

Methinks you may have forgotten the '78-'82 Corvettes, and last, but not least, you also forgot to mention the 1967 Impala SS...
ScottC
Intermediate Driver

Thanks Thumper, I was feeling left out. The 82 Special Edition was a hatch as well.
Corkola
Intermediate Driver

It isn't really a "trend" if it hasn't been around in many years.
Mike_E_V
Detailer

As this is about coupes, one understands why the pancake roof 4 door hardtops of full size GM cars from 59 & 50 are not mentioned. Bubble topped coupes models from 61 & 62 are memorable as is first gen Eldorado's and 67 through 70 Coupe De Ville's. Though not GM Chryco had a couple of compound curve master pieces in the first gen Charger and of course the 1st gen Bacaruda. Ford was usually tame with it's back glass however I did like the 67-68 Mustang fastback's with their vertical etch line down the center of the glass.
Mike_E_V
Detailer

I am likely incorrect but the rear glass I recall from Ford as exotic (for the times) was the rear window of the full sized Ford station wagon. So large and curved the Dodge Deora show truck used it as a front windshield. Frame and all. 60 & 61 Starliner coupes were about as exotic as Ford would get in the rear glass arena.
ThumperUSMC
Intermediate Driver

Very true, but the article was strictly about GM vehicles.

Tim
Instructor

And coupes at that.
OldCarMan
Instructor

Never, ever, called hardtops or pickups "coupes" maybe some idiot madmen did, but that's another article.
mtnance
Pit Crew

Even though you limited this to GM (unk why), you can't leave out the 1964-66 Barracuda.
mtnance
Pit Crew

and, meant to mention:  It is one of the first cars I learned how to drive in.  Push button transmission and all.  Also the first time I heard my dad say a four letter word when he accidently bumped an item stored overhead and it went straight through the back glass.  I doubt you can even get a back glass for it anymore.

Chris2161
Pit Crew

First generation Barracuda. Period.
redeuce52
New Driver

Mercury Turnpike Cruiser
JK
Intermediate Driver

The B body Chevrolet Coupe and the Toronado XS glass was bent. That is why there is so much distortion on the edge.

The El Camino's backlight was inspired by the 206/246 Dino. There were some notable GM Design people that were Ferrari fans.

The comment about the bumpers for the B body is not recognizing that just how extreme the standards were then. It included the expected 5 mph frontal but also a significant diagonal impact too. The height of the bumpers had to account for the various options and build variations that turned into a taller bumper.

A backlight that might also be worth of inclusion in such a list is the 3rd generation Camaro/Firebird (F body). These were formed glass with a reverse curve. Designers had been wanting to incorporate formed glass for a number of years but would get turned down because of cost.
okfoz
Detailer

As a side note, when Bill Mitchell designed the Boat Tail Riviera, it was supposed to be built on the smaller "G" Platform (IE 69-72 Grand Prix, 70-72 Monte Carlo ), which was similar to the "A" Platform . GM however said that the RIviera was to be built on the full size "B" Platform.
I think the smaller car would have been more of a hit, although they are sought after today due to their uniqueness.
In all of my years I have never seen a 77/78 Toronado, but I have seen all of the others, either friends have owned them or at car shows.
WAB
Intermediate Driver

Living in Lansing, Michigan area when the XS was introduced we saw quite a few of them on a regular basis...They were a very unique car for the times and hard to miss on the road with that rear treatment. Moving to Minnesota a couple years later there were quite a few here also.......must have been the front wheel drive which was superior in the snow.....wonder how many are left.
Will
Intermediate Driver

A guy in our car club owns a Toronado XS. The first one I saw was the prototype XSR at the NY Int. Auto show. Probably the most radical on the list. I'm so glad that the Toronado and the boat tail Riviera wasn't left out of this list.
silverado
Intermediate Driver

How about the 59-60 chevy elcamino. I had a 60 elcamino and they have a lot of glass.
bvj126
New Driver

69 thru 73 caprice
stevecobb45
Detailer

I know you're talking about one-piece rear glass but can we see something on multi-rear windows like the 57 Olds someday?
terryjudd
Intermediate Driver

I’m glad to see the list include the 1977-78 Oldsmobile Toronado XS rear window that must have been an absolute nightmare to install on the assembly line. That rear window design obviously was influenced by the 1947-52 Studebaker Starlight Coupes, which achieved a similar wraparound effect by using four glass sections. Those Studebakers would have looked even more spectacular if the technology existed back then for a single curved rear window.
JK
Intermediate Driver

GM Design was doing the XS and the Chey B body coupe as how to use the new bent glass technology.  It fit with the overall design trend of sheer design and a stiff truncation of the upper.  It was just a design idiom of the time.

cestor01
Intermediate Driver

I am surprised that there was not a single iteration of the Firebird mentioned. I always thought that was one of the most striking design elements of that car. Throughout the 80s and 90s, the backlight took up almost all of the trunk space. I also second the first iterations of the Barracuda.
SuperCommando
Pit Crew

I have always preferred hardtop coupes over convertibles for the additional style of the rooflines...a lot more opportunity to make a car stylish when you don't have to worry about making a top go down.
I really like the mid-60's full size GM coupes with their concave rear windows, like the '65-66 Grand Prix. Also the '68-'69 Mopar B-bodies with their wild rear window with hardly a straight line on them
Will
Intermediate Driver

'70 Impala coupe also had a concave rear glass.
wentwest
Intermediate Driver

How about the 1948 Buick Sedanette, with a very extreme "fastback" and a tiny jewel of a rear window, or the 3 part rear windows of the 1950 Roadmasters and Cadillacs? Those were very different and somewhat bold ideas for their time.
Tim
Instructor

I'm not the right demographic to give a '77 Olds even a first glance, let alone a second, but that rear glasswork is some impressive engineering, especially more than 40 years ago!

There's always room for glass of any shape in current styling trends, which makes me wonder if we don't see complex shapes as much anymore for cost or safety reasons.
Zephyr
Advanced Driver

I have a vague recollection thet there was a Buick or Olds made in the 70's or 80's in which the rear glass had a sharp crease right in the center. It was a special model that was otherwise identical to the "ordinary" model.
JerV8Flat4
Pit Crew

Who writes these things? Apparently someone whose knowledge of GM cars is pretty shallow and begins with 1963. Others have pointed out the ‘61-‘62 Impala bubbletops. The 2nd from the bottom rung ‘62-‘65 Chevy II hardtops like my ‘64 Nova SS had complex, compound-curved back glass that was dramatic and graceful yet muscular. Both were more attractive than anything else on this list other than the Stingray and Riv.

Wascator
New Driver

As I recall, the 1971 Chevrolet Impala sport coupe had an interesting and unusual concave rear window. On each side the glass swept rearward to blend into the c-pillar sail panel.
Spudsly
Intermediate Driver

All Good list here. But the AMC Marlin has even the split-window beat
MoparMarq
Detailer

Except for the '71-'72 Riviera, they all look like Oldsmobuicks to me.
Jnick
Detailer

I remember a Cub Scout trip to Mt Diablo way back when, the Den Mother had a brand new Buick Riviera complete with leather interior.
We all drove up the mountain and ate a ton of hot dogs. Unfortunately my best friend David was in the front seat and the hot dogs didn’t sit well combined with the curvy road and, as it was a hot day the monster windows were open.
So the vomit flew out then right back in and you can guess where the majority of it ended up! To this day I wonder how the clean up went.
The moral of the story: sometimes things look fantastic but in terms of real world practicality the Riviera wouldn’t be my 1st choice!
dd1
Intermediate Driver

The C2 'Vette is simply gorgeous! I truly miss the days when cars were actually beautiful works of art. I took a few moments to look at the current generation corvette and compared it to the C2. The C8 is obviously a technological marvel of speed, power and handling. It has beauty but it's not beautiful to my eyes. This is not a slight to anyone who owns a C8 but beauty is in the proverbial eye of the beholder. And when I look at the C8 I'm simply not moved in any emotional way. It's brute force and power, which is fine. But when I look at the lines on that C2...whoa...I'm moved! The C2 may not have the technological prowess or the brute power of the C8 but for me it has something that's infinitely more important--simple beauty and oodles of character. And again, no offense to anyone who owns or desires a newer Vette. It's all about personal choice and it's all good!
JohnnyD
Intermediate Driver

Besides the iconic 63 Corvette split window, I admired the 1950-51 Studebaker 2 door coupe's wrap around side/rear window, and the 65 Plymouth Barracuda amazing rear glass, plus all the GM "bubble top" glass in the 1959-61 Chevy, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Cadillac and Buick 2-door hardtops. That gang was just so modern, open, optimistic, and elegant.
These are a marvel for the eyes when at classic car shows!