While most of us here at ViaRETRO seem to have fully excepted the arrival of the youngtimers, I personally remain a bit more sceptical. I am trying though – I really am! And as part of that process, I have decided to stay calm and dedicate this Friday to the highest level of cocktail party trivia.
By cocktail party trivia, I mean the sort of top-notch knowledge which can be subtly utilised at any cocktail party to create smalltalk, and thereby automatically sooth the general atmosphere when conversing with other guests. Even if you have no cocktail parties in your immediate schedule, do not despair as this knowledge will follow you as a loyal friend for the rest of your life…
Let’s travel back to the last time you found yourself in a modern car. Maybe you were in the passenger seat and had sufficient time and spare capacity to have a look around and take in the various details of this modern contraption. This is when you might have noticed the peculiar pattern of small black dots around the edges of the windscreen and possibly even the other windows.
A modern windscreen is a fabulous piece if engineering and perhaps one of the most undervalued parts of the vehicle. An element of this fascinating piece of ingenuity lies in how the windscreen is attached to the body of the car. You will have no doubt also noticed the black edge all around the extremities of the window – it is called the frit.
The frit is an enamel band which is literally baked onto the edges of the windscreen and thus quite impossible to scrape off. The frit is more often than not accompanied by the previously mentioned black dots. The objective of the frit is to give the windscreen an etched surface where adhesive can bond the window to the window frame of the body.
Furthermore, while the inner side of the frit allows the adhesive to bond to the glass, the outer side works as UV-protection. The strong UV rays from the sun will with time weaken and eventually deteriorate the adhesive bond. The frit shields the adhesive and thus ensures that the windscreen will remain where we prefer it to be. From a purely cosmetically perspective, the frit also conceals the otherwise messy adhesive from our eye and makes the car look more appealing.
And then there are all those small black dots, which have two objectives in life. Still from a purely cosmetical point of view, they offer a more pleasing transition from the black frit to the transparent glass. But on hot sunny days, the dots also function as a form of heat dissipation for the black frit on the windscreen. Some manufacturers have even taken it a step further and expanded the area of the dots in the area right behind the rear view mirror, where the sun visors typically will be unable to screen you from the sun. This is sometimes referred to as the “third visor”.
Of course you won’t find any of this high-tech window engineering on a truly classic car. They will normally use a rubber seal between the body and the windscreen with a slim chromed inlay to lock it all in place. But time passes and the more modern youngtimers are becoming more and more apparent in our classic car environment. Therefore, we must update our knowledge bank with both frits and dots.
But do the bonded windscreens offer any other advantages besides being cheaper for the manufacturers? Windscreens have now become disposable products, as it’s impossible to take a bonded windscreen out of a car and then refit it again. I hope you enjoy your next cocktail party…
ViaRETRO bonus information: Seeing as we have all had quite a focus on French classics recently, you might be interested in knowing that a car window is in French called: fenêtre de voiture