Journal: Does Window Tint Ever Belong On Classic Cars?

Does Window Tint Ever Belong On Classic Cars?

Andrew Golseth By Andrew Golseth
April 27, 2016
15 comments

Living in sunny Southern California, you’d be amazed how many classic automobiles are puttering around beach towns, and why not? The temperate year-round climate is the perfect atmosphere to endlessly savor your classic wheels of choice. But, all this sunlight can get things toasty—and, with most vintage autos lacking air-conditioning—there aren’t many inexpensive alternatives to keep things less sweaty.

Which is probably why I come across so many classic automobiles with various shades of window tint. Of these out-and-about drivers, most of them are plastered with film that simply looks out of place (especially when it’s of the 20-year-old bubbling purple variety). Admittedly, I’ve never been a fan of a darkened greenhouse, regardless of the vehicle’s age or type, but I find tint on older cars to be dreadful. My dislike for tint is as much of an “OCD tick” as it is a personal preference.

Allow me to clarify.

You prefer a vehicle with color-matched body panels, right? Well, I’ve viewed glass in the same light, so to speak: all of it should be of the same transparency. I need uniformity in my cars. If the windshield is 100% clear, the rest of the windows should be as well. If the windshield is equipped with a limo-spec 5%, the rest of the windows should be, too.

Except: that essentially eliminates all visibility, looks ridiculous, and will get you pulled over within minutes of driving. (And don’t get me started on convertibles with the top down and tinted windows up…) For me, nothing irks me more than when the rear pieces of glass are tinted but the fronts remain untreated. I know my logic isn’t universal, and that I’m likely the odd-one-out on this subject.

But if you are like me, I do have a suggestion. A couple years ago, I purchased my very first BMW—a heat absorbing black-on-black ‘99 M3. The rear ¾ had old 30% tint, which I promptly removed. After a few weeks of “fishbowling,” I came to the conclusion I no longer wanted to condition my leather via perspiration—something had to be done. I really didn’t want tint, but I needed to keep the cabin cooler and wanted to protect the leather as well. It was looking as if tint was my only option.

While researching reputable tint manufacturers, I discovered UV film, also referred to as “clear tint” or film. Initially, I was skeptical of the product but after finding claims of 99% harmful UV blockage and up to a 60% heat reduction, it sounded worth a shot. Best of all, the stuff is nearly completely transparent. Most tint shops now stock several brands of the stuff and it’s a similar cost to traditional tint. Another bonus, applying UV film to your windshield is legal in most states—uniformity at last (you have no idea what joy this brought me)!

When I dropped the car off at the shop, I was surprised to see how many classics were getting clear film, including a lovely Porsche 356. I opted to have all six pieces of glass done in 80% UV film, and it’s one of the best modifications I’ve made to the car. My cabin is significantly cooler, my fair skin is getting the sunblock it desperately needs, the interior materials are staying fresh, and: it doesn’t look tinted. In fact, when I tell people about the stuff, they’re shocked my Munich Machine has anything applied to the windows.

Needless to say, I’m so impressed with the stuff, I plan on installing UV film on my classic cars as well. It protects cabin materials, blocks harmful sunrays, and you don’t have to hide your nostalgic auto’s classy interior—what’s not to love?

Photography by: Laurent Nivalle, Afshin Behnia, Maxim Gurianov, Fedrico Bajetti, & David Marvier

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[…] you don’t want to darken your windows but still want to cut down on interior heat, you can install UV film. It still cuts down on UV rays and heat but is nearly transparent, so it won’t affect the […]

Raiser English
Raiser English

I like LLumar, Banari and 3M honestly.

timmy850
timmy850

Tint, or the UV films are also a bonus if you have old glass that will shatter on impact with rocks etc. Sure beats pulling bits of glass out of the interior for the next few years!

Vidal Plascencia
Vidal Plascencia

I own a 2006 silverado and 92 ranger, i know thwir not top notch vehicles but they are mine, anyways on the silverado i do have dark tint because othewise i feel like windows are like the ones on a bus, bug so everyone can look at you lol. On my ranger i have very light tint for the same reason, privacy. I believe a light tint on an older vehicle would be ok, depending on the vehicle ofcourse. Very interisting subject

Alex Morris
Alex Morris

“I know my logic isn’t universal, and that I’m likely the odd-one-out on this subject.”

Relax, man. Next time. comment tastefully…

Robert Stewart
Robert Stewart

I think from an appearance perspective the cars that were often tinted in their day are the ones that can best get away with tinting without looking out of period; with that said my typical preference is that classics are not tinted – I had no idea an effective clear alternative existed, and I am certainly going to look in to it for one of my cars. My big black nasty Rage Rover – it can keep its tint. My one last thought, it may not be easy to take tint off, but it can likely be done without harming… Read more »

Joshua Seidenberg
Joshua Seidenberg

Wow, intense discussion but I have to agree with the majority. They’re my cars, restored with my money, the clear tint goes on. Nothing ruins a leather dash more than baking sun above 5280ft. I have hard enough time seeing out of the curved back windows so dark tint is out. I used the 3M crystalline.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Look .. regardless of YOUR personal tastes …. which are purely subjective I might add .. car ownership and what one choses to do with ones car is not something to be codified , homogenized or marginalized by what may be perceived as some sense of higher value or ethics regardless of who the source may be or what supposed credentials the one doing the codifying may have . Simply put … especially here in the goram US of A … its all a matter of personal taste . You want numbers matching . I’m hard core Resto-Mod .. someone… Read more »

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

PS; I just dug up the brochures …. guess what Mr Golseth .. even my former 365GTC/4 had a window tint option available direct from Ferrari … as did many an exotic cat back in the day car including Porsche , Lamborghini etc etc et al

Peter Bidel Schwambach
Peter Bidel Schwambach

I don’t mind it, mostly because I’m not as much a purist as to exchange some driving comfort for authenticity. I’d rather have tinted windows to keep my interiors clean and fresh than bake them under the harsh Brazilian sun. Still, if clear UV proof tint is an option, that’s probably what I’d go with before dark tint.

Teddy Ruxpin
Teddy Ruxpin

I was SO ready to cut you a new one, and brag how my ’74 Toyota is getting black tint since it matches the wheels, spoilers, fender mirrors and nose wrap (all black).

And then I came across the UV-blocking film. I live in the tropics and the aftermarket AC just can’t cope. It’s hell driving it around noon, so I am definitely going to give that product a go. If I am lucky they will let me import it without breaking the bank.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Do what you want and what appeals to you … not what some website maven with little or no authority never mind any credentials to back up his opinions says you should do . Personally … and this is just my opinion … in light of the vehicle … the modifications you’ve done and the colors you’ve chosen … damn Golseths opinions … and full speed ahead .. with the black tint….cause damn from the sounds of it that’ll look good !

Maxime Veilleux
Maxime Veilleux

I don’t mind tint, but my car was already equipped with some minor one when I brought it and I don’t plan on taking it out also.

That beeing said.

I will not put some new one once those are due.