The Triplex 10-20 Glassback is an AROnline favourite, and that’s because it looks as bold today as it did when it made its debut at the 1978 British Motor Show.
The good news for fans is that it still exists and is on display at the British Motor Museum at Gaydon, Warwickshire.
Triplex 10-20 Glassback: Princess plus…
The Ogle Triplex Glassback 10-20 was a concept car commissioned by Triplex in 1977, and followed on from the previous year’s Triplex Ten Twenty Special, as designed by Chris Humberstone. The Princess-based Glassback was a very different beast, though – as it looked much more like a production-reality car, sharing a decent of its external styling with the car it was based upon.
There were some big names involved with the creation of the 10-20 Glassback, not least Carl Olsen of Ogle Design, who revised the front- and rear-ends of the progressive-looking Princess to create this appealingly-styled (and stickered) shooting brake conversion.
Although the Triplex 10-20 Glassback was a created as a publicity vehicle for the car-glass manufacturer’s latest XXX-branded safety glazing, it was something of a styling tour de force in its own right, while conveniently putting right one of the Princess’s wrongs, by adding a fifth door and making it look super-modern by ditching the chrome bumpers.
As well as the generously-glazed rear end, the Glassback featured a sunroof fashioned from 2.3mm safety glass (the rest was 3.0mm) – the thinest ever achieved according to Triplex. Some of the car’s features were remarkably prescient – the bold graphics shouted 1980s, not ’70s, while the Triplex Hyviz-coated glass also incorporated a built-in aerial and a mesh demisting element.
The front and rear bumpers were made from impact-absorbing polycarbonate that were integrally designed with the car in the manner of mainstream cars a decade hence. Clearly, had the 10-20 Glassback been designed by one of the Italian Carrozzeria, it would probably be hailed as an all-time great.
Today, the 10-20 Glassback is just a footnote in BL history, but it deserves wider recognition for its optimistic and forward-looking design. At the time, it not only served to promote Triplex’s safety glass, but it reminded us all that that the Princess really deserved a hatchback rear end, more vibrant colours, and to lose its fussy and outdated chrome detailing (drip rails, bumpers etc.) in favour of a more modern aesthetic.