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January 7 Weekly Open Thread: Please Bring Back Opera Windows

1977-Matador_Barcelona-opera_windowA few weeks ago, December 10 to be exact, fellow Car Lust contributor Anthony Cagle helped introduce us to "The Lincoln Motor Company." A couple of commenters, yours truly included, suggested that Lincoln return to a 1970s Detroit styling icon, the opera window(s). This design element might help that "budding" company set itself apart from the rest of automobilia with perhaps a touch of class from a bygone era... just as their ads suggest.

From a Mustang II Ghia to a Cadillac Sedan de Ville and most everywhere in between, opera windows, along with padded vinyl roofs, upright hood ornaments, and wide bodyside mouldings were a staple of style. Some of them were done well, and others... weren't.

Presenting a few cars in their resplendent glory to whet one's appetite for the good old days:

Ford_Thunderbird Htp_1957

77_tbird_cham2

  75BuickElectra

  Chrysler_cordoba_1975_1_b

Love them or hate them, they sure added a little style... something that is sadly missing from most of today's anonymous cars. The new opera windows could be built in flush and would barely, if at all, affect aerodynamics. They could add some rearward visibility. Electroluminescent opera lights might make a comeback at the same time.

Maybe the smallest car ever offered with opera windows is this Daihatsu Cuore 2-door Santa Cruz:

Daihatsu_Cuore_2d_Santa_Cruz_di_TF

So if these stir your feelings either way, please speak up. Or comment about anything else that's related to moving machines as well.

--That Car Guy

Image Credits: Our 1977 AMC Matador opera window photo is from Wikipedia. The 1957 Thunderbird image is from SMCars.net. The 1977 Thunderbird picture is from INWThunderbird.org. The 1975 Buick Electra photograph is from Mabee.ca. The Cordoba ad with the fine Corinthian leather is from FavCars.com. And the Daihatsu Cuore Santa Cruz photo is from Wikipedia.

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Why not bring them back...it would help Lincoln set itself apart from all the other luxury brands. After all BMWs have their kidney bean grilles, Mercedes are trying to look like Hyundais, and Cadillacs ...well, I don't know what they're aiming for.

Besides, the other Saturday I was listening to the Metropolitan Opera live radio broadcast while in the truck...it made me wish it had opera windows.

And T-Tops! I want my '90 Nissan Pulsar back!

Opera windows might be nice but I don't know if they would work with today's "gun slit" side glass designs. Personally, that is a trend I wish would soon end, I'm happy to see the new Honda Accord bucking the trend.

But in addition to Opera Window how about Opera Lights? With today's LED technology there is a multitude of ideas that could be implemented with these too...

I dunno, while opera windows were the style way back in the day, many of them were designed into the car's overall design as to be hardly even noticeable - kinda like vinyl roofs. Just about every car had them, or it was at least an option on about 95% of them.

To try to do something like that today with our current designs... I just don't think would work. I think Hiptech raises a good point with today's window designs, the narrow mail-slot designed windows certainly wouldn't lend themselves well to an opera window, at least to the degree that the 1970s cars had.

Which brings me to another point: Think about the cars back in the 60s/70s that mostly had opera windows: The personal luxury car, i.e. the Chevy Monte Carlo, Chrysler Cordoba, Ford T-bird and their ilk. While those cars were wildly popular back in their day, that particular market is completely dead today - they're all gone, as well as their successors. So, short of resurrecting that type of car again, trying to apply an opera window design to a car of today would be equivalent to (for lack of a better example) putting lipstick on a pig.

Yankee, I agree, the personal luxury niche is all but gone. It seems that a "Do it all" 4-door family sedan is the rage these days, or maybe even a crossover SUV. Station wagons are scarce, even non-sporty 2-door cars are hard to find.

But Detroit did an excellent job with retro designs like the Mustang and PT Cruiser, and Toyota built the FJ Cruiser. So blending a little window into a classic roofline should not pose a major problem. Opera windows won't work on every car, they never did, but a few models could surely benefit from a small styling addition.

Eh... I suppose it COULD be done - after all, Lincoln (IMHO) did a decent job of incorporating their quasi-Continental kit all the way thru the Mark VIII's demise in '97 ('98?), so I suppose an opera window isn't totally out of the question if they were so inclined.

I do, however, draw the line at a landau roof... while they look fine on a mid-70s Monte Carlo (in fact they look strangely naked without one), I don't think anyone could pull that off today. Opera lights - maybe, landau top - uh uh.

As I view it, opera windows, while they had a nice cachet, via the name were little more than a cheap replacement from the crank down quarter windows on many, many hardtops in the '50's and '60's. Many of them, to add a slight flair incorporated the cars' insignia in the glass. If I remember correctly, the Mark IV had opera windows behind the regular quarter windows, which were fixed. I sat in the back seat of a Mark IV once and seeing a switch, thought it was for the window. It was for a rear interior light. I do like formal roofs and t-tops.

I don't know about opera windows. I do think too many current designs do have glass that's too short, with pillars that are too fat. Opera windows? Fixed quarter windows? About the same to me, really. But those opera lights, however, those I like. My parents had an '85 Olds 98, with opera lights in the b-pillars. Very classy looking.

Of course, the idea is not to add an opera window to a current design, but rather to design the roofline for the opera window. A more formal look would probably be necessary, but today's designers are very capable people. Well, most of the time.

I don't know if these would work anymore, but I kind of miss the little triangular vent windows. They were a nice way to cool the interior a bit and direct the air right onto the driver (or passenger) without having to open the whole side window.

I like opera windows, but not the porthole windows like the thunderbird pictured.

About the triangular vent windows. An ad in the '50's showed the vent windows open calling it flow-through ventilation. Back then and into the '60's, when a lot of people smoked (with ash trays and lighters) in the dash, the open vent windows created a slight venturi effect and drew the smoke out of the interior.

I don't think the 75-76 GM full size c-pillar window qualifies as "opera".

Can Lincoln call themselves a "Motor Company" when they don't make their own motors...? What's wrong with "Lincoln Body & Chassis Works?" ;)

I think Lincoln REALLY needs to draw upon their history of superior auto design. Not retro, necessarily, but "futuristic," in the same way a '61 Continental is futuristic compared to a '61 Fleetwood.

Exempli gratia: long, low, streamlined, and slab-sided. Some implementation of chrome-edged front and rear fins. Modern Lincolns need either: long-oval opera windows with engraved Lincoln logos, suicide doors, a pillarless hardtop, disappearing headlights, or an honest-to-goodness Continental rear. Modern designers can make it happen, and a modern luxo-Lincoln could completely embarrass Cadillac, which has apparently abandoned the luxury market.

Maybe Lincoln could make one of those big ol cars you used to see in palm springs in the 70s/80s

Typically an MG Midget windshield, a four mile long hood with big exhaust pipes like a Mercedes SSK. Enough gold trim to choke a horse

Excaliber was one . Another looked like a Cord. Still another like an Auburn Speedster.Whatever happened to those overwrought ultra luxury vehicles?

@SirTweakAlot -- the generic term for those sorts of cars is "neoclassic." At a Studebaker show a couple years ago, I shot a photo of a Tiffany, which looks to have been built off a Ford Mustang donor car. http://nozama.typepad.com/.a/6a00e54ed05fc288330153910e67ed970b-popup

The horror, the horror......

I loved sticking my head in that little Opera window of our silver 79 Cutlass Supreme when I was a young kid. I was sad my Mom sold her 74 yellow Pinto Squire Wagon for it though! The pop out windows were cooler, and I could play with my Hotwheels in the hatch area!

Miss opera windows? Are you kidding? Non-functional decorative windows are found on many of today's current cars. There's the little triangles in front of the doors on the Honda Fit, and at the rear of the Mazda 3, just like too many others to name. The Prius features both vestigial windowlets in both places. These are triangles, of course, while your examples are round and rectangular. But how do you define and "opera window." Pint-sized examples of the real item, like "opera glasses" vs. real binoculars? I'd call them any window too small and useless to see through, and that's epidemic of today's cars. many of them look more open and glassy from the exterior, but once inside you see that the window openings are pinched down with wide dot shading and oversized framing. So you get the glass, with its drawbacks, but not the light and the view. Methinks you're just indulging on some Brougham fancy here, and that's fine, but I'll go for the Bubblecar look anytime.


i owned a Bodyshop in 1980 when a 1978 continental came in to replace the entire roof panel which needed replacement because of rust which we got the owner a complete used roof, the owner insisted to keep his car original with the Bill Blass edition opera glass. a week after that car left the shop, a nervous delivery man carefully handed to me a item heavily wrapped in a small blanket and said sorry for the delay of the left opera glass that was cracked but it finally arrived from New York.the used roof panel was from a 1978 Lincoln Continental Diamond Jubilee edition anyway,now I have a right and a left opera windows.they are laminated glass and beveled and on the gold lettering that says Diamond Jubilee Edition, there is a imitation diamond with these letters.I called the Ford Dealer back in 1980 for the price to replace these windows and they gave me a price of $650.00 each plus tax,the most expensive auto glass made in America of it's time.

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