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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Opera window, with photo-etched logo, and padded Landau roof on a 1979 Lincoln Continental Town Car
Opera window, with photo-etched logo, and padded Landau roof on a 1979 Lincoln Continental Town Car

An opera window is a small fixed window usually behind the rear side window of an automobile.[1] They are typically mounted in the C-pillar of some cars.[2] The design feature was popular during the 1970s and early 1980s that was adopted by domestic U.S. manufacturers most often with a vinyl roof.[2]

The origin was from around 1915 "opera" vehicles with occasional collapsible seating for extra passengers.[3] The opera window was also a feature on "formal roof" and limosine models with higher than normal roof to accommodate passengers with top hats.[3]


1956–1957 Ford Thunderbird "porthole" opera window in removable hardtop
1956–1957 Ford Thunderbird "porthole" opera window in removable hardtop
1977 AMC Matador Barcelona coupe fixed opera window surrounded by padded Landau roof
1977 AMC Matador Barcelona coupe fixed opera window surrounded by padded Landau roof
1973 Dodge Charger SE coupe fixed opera window behind the sidedoor glass
1973 Dodge Charger SE coupe fixed opera window behind the sidedoor glass
1991 Cadillac Brougham opera window as part of the rear door
1991 Cadillac Brougham opera window as part of the rear door

The design element of a distinct, fixed, centered opera window was borrowed from such windows in horse-drawn carriages and used during the classical era of automobile styling. For example, “...the Elcar in 1924 was good looking...and even a fabric top in the style of a brougham with oval opera windows framed by landau bars...[4] Opera windows saw their demise in the 1930s.

Perhaps the most notable return was the "porthole" in the 1956–1957 Ford Thunderbird. It was provided as an option to improve rear-quarter visibility with the removable hardtop in place. “...The hottest thing going was the "porthole" window in the rear side pillar - called "opera windows" that came in during the horse and buggy [era]...[5]

Opera windows began reappearing in the early 1970s in such vehicles as the 1972 Continental Mark IV. Almost all personal luxury cars would adopt-opera windows, usually framed by a vinyl roof.[6] Most often, opera window variants were applied on two-door hardtop or coupé models, spanning all types of vehicles from economy compacts to flagship personal luxury cars, in which latter exploding realm they became “recognition elements” seeking to add a vintage element to their styling.[7] General Motors introduced all-new line of mid-sized "Colonade" models for the 1973 model year. Standard on all the coupes was a fixed triangular rear quarter window while higher trim versions used a rectangular vertical opera window.[8]

In some cars, an additional feature was the so-called opera light that was mounted on the outside of the B-pillar or C-pillar and illuminated when the exterior lights were switched on.


The windows were intended to offset the significant blind spots created by wide C-pillars that were characteristic of many American cars produced at this time.[9] In an age of decreasing dimensions and increasingly common use of non-opening rear side windows on 2-door models, a variety of shapes of rear windows may have helped passengers there to feel somewhat less claustrophobic.[citation needed]

These windows were usually non-functional; however, in the case of the AMC Matador coupe NASCAR racers, the small windows that came with the Barcelona II trim package actually helped to clean up the aerodynamics when such windows were open to the wind under racing conditions.[10]


Toyota Crown coupe
Toyota Crown coupe
1979 AMC Concord with standard "landau" roof trim
1979 AMC Concord with standard "landau" roof trim
1977 Mercury Monarch with standard painted roof
1977 Mercury Monarch with standard painted roof

See also


  1. ^ "Oxford Dictionary: definition of Opera Window". Lexico Dictionaries. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  2. ^ a b "1975 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado". Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  3. ^ a b Haajanen, Lennart W. (2017). Illustrated Dictionary of Automobile Body Styles (Second ed.). McFarland. pp. 80, 112. ISBN 9780786499182. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  4. ^ Locke, William S. (2000). Elcar and Pratt automobiles: the complete history. McFarland. p. 71. ISBN 9780786409563.
  5. ^ Szudarek, Robert (2000). The first century of the Detroit Auto Show. Warrendale, PA: Society of Automotive Engineers. p. 210. ISBN 9780768005028.
  6. ^ Stern, Milton (April 2018). "The Peak of Personal Luxury". Hemmings Classic Car. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  7. ^ Herd, Paul; Mueller, Paul (1994). Charger, Road Runner & Super Bee. Motorbooks International. p. 119. ISBN 9780879388447.
  8. ^ Flory Jr., J. “Kelly” (2012). American Cars, 1973-1980: Every Model, Year by Year. McFarland. p. 22. ISBN 9780786456369. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  9. ^ "Dodge Magnum: the briefly made, sporty-style car of the 1970s". February 2017. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  10. ^ "AMC Matador NASCAR Bullfighter". Archived from the original on 26 October 2009. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  11. ^ Cranswick, Marc (2011). The Cars of American Motors: An Illustrated History. McFarland. p. 252. ISBN 9780786485703. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  12. ^ Flammang, James M. (1990). Standard catalog of American cars, 1976-1986 (Second ed.). Krause Publications. pp. 12–14. ISBN 9780873411332.
  13. ^ Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (26 October 2007). "1974-1978 AMC Matador". Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  14. ^ Sikora, Don (10 April 2013). "Review Flashback! 1975 AMC Matador". Consumer Guide. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  15. ^ "1976 AMC Full Line brochure". p. 22. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  16. ^ DeMauro, Thomas A. (August 2018). "Majestic Matador - 1977 AMC Matador". Hemmings Classic Car. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  17. ^ Stern, Milton (May 2018). "Malibu: Classic Colonnade". Hemmings Classic Car. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  18. ^ DeMAuro, Thomas A. (October 2019). "Cultured Chrysler - 1977-'79 Chrysler LeBaron". Hemmings Classic Car. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  19. ^ Farr, Donald (2018). Speed Read Mustang: The History, Design and Culture Behind Ford's Original Pony Car. Motorbooks. pp. 50, 67. ISBN 9780760364420. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  20. ^ "1976 Continental Mark IV Designer Edition Opera Windows". Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  21. ^ Hartford, Bill (October 1977). "Driving the 1978 Fords, Lincolns and Mercurys". Popular Mechanics. 148 (4): 110. Retrieved 10 September 2020. Two-doors get a gimmicky "Twin-dow," a split opera window.
  22. ^ Flory, Jr., J. “Kelly” (2012). American Cars, 1973-1980: Every Model, Year by Year. McFarland. p. 542. ISBN 9780786456369. Retrieved 10 September 2020. choice of vertically louvered rear quarter windows or rear quarter opera window
  23. ^ カリーナバン 1400ー1600 [Carina Van 1400–1600] (in Japanese), Toyota, December 1975, p. 4, 135741—5012
  24. ^ "History of the Toyota Crown". Toyota UK. 6 August 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2020. opera windows were added to the thick C-pillars to enhance rear visibility and give the model a distinctive design feature
This page was last edited on 8 November 2020, at 23:13
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