Concepts and prototypes : Ogle Triplex 10-20 Glassback (1978)

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…

Triplex 10-20 Glassback

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.

Triplex 10-20 Glassback

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us all that that the Princess really deserved a hatchback rear end, more vibrant colours, and to lose its fussy and outdated chrome detailing (drip rails, bumpers etc.)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.


Triplex 10-20 Glassback brochure

Original 1978 Motor Show handout.
The original 1978 British Motor Show handout
Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

12 Comments

  1. Have seen this many times in Gaydon, and i still think that with a little tweaking here and there it could still be a relevant car today.

  2. Quite cool looking, the front end looks quite sporty too.

    I love the fact that it is described as the “Austin Morris Princess”, what a complete shambles BL made of their badging around this time!

  3. A pity the Princess never received a similar front-end treatment to the Triplex 10-20 Glassback from the outset (along with a hatchback and other bodystyles, more potent engines, etc.) as it looks quite appealing compared to the original.

  4. It’s bold & imaginative (the ‘chevron’ rear indicator design for example. Agree with JonBoy, it needs a little tidying-up here & there, but having seen it at B.M.I.H.T., Gaydon in the late-nineties, I’m pleased to encounter it again in the new Collections Centre at the re-named British Motor Museum.

  5. Can’t be certain but I reckon this is used in the intro sequence for “The Americans” TV show in some period footage from the car show.

    Princess posing as a Russian? Maybe it was the original Agent Triplex?

    • I just noticed it on ‘The Americans’ too. I think it’s one of the images intended to represent Western decadence etc. Interesting choice.

  6. Always loved the look of this – but it’s so depressing. It’s 85% Princess and probably build able as an update of that model. What did we get instead? The Ambassador.
    This with an EFI B-series (look up the fuel injection landcrab) and ditto E6 would have sold very well.
    It’s like shooting yourself in the foot with Big Bertha (not the Vauxhall). They could have top and tailed the Princess in this style to make a really attractive car (even if they didn’t do the triplex gubbins), but no.
    The front end would have seriously improved fuel consumption as well.
    It’s just depressing that time after time BL snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

  7. Grotesque. I know this is a BL/ARG fan site, but seriously? Somehow reminds me of something Hot Wheels dreamt up in the seventies. Purple and yellow spring to mind for some reason.

  8. Some may think it grotesque now – but we must appreciate the passage of time – and it certainly was not grotesque for the period. Looking at older cars we surely have to appreciate this.

  9. Well said, TWM. Think of how anything Victorian was despised in the 1950s-1960s, how the Euston Arch was destroyed, how the St Pancras Hotel nearly went the same way. There is nothing as transient as fashion, nothing as pretentious and passing as style. Think of haircuts.

  10. Some of the details I’m not a fan off, but over all it shows that a large estate princess was very possible and the profile shows how attractive a three box princess could have been.
    A hatch back princess
    an Estate
    A three box saloon.
    Postition it hard up against the Granada – engines 20ltr 0 series, 2.3 E6 and 2.6 E6
    Just saying like.

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