I FELT like a real dickhead when I rang Ralph Moore Autoglass recently and asked if I could speak to Ralph…?
“Ah, Ralph passed away on New Year’s Eve,” was the polite reply.
Thankfully, unlike some specialist, niche or oneman- band companies that tragically seem to perish with their founders, Ralph Moore Auto Glass is moving ahead at full-throttle thanks to Ralph’s daughters Adriana (the manager) and Leonie and his son Victor.
Ralph Moore Autoglass’s honeycomb brick workshop – designed and built, brick by brick, by Ralph in the 1960s – is three minutes from Sydney airport. It’s in the once-mighty industrial suburb of Mascot, an area now dominated by tackilycoloured home units. There is plenty happening the day we visit: Adriana points us toward the coffee and apologises for her busy-ness as she darts between tasks – paperwork, phones, packing up tools – with such briskness that she almost trails tyre smoke!
As well as looking after classic and vintage cars, the company caters for specialist and low-volume automotive glass supply and installation requirements so having a near-new Land Rover Evoque, here for the replacement of its immense skylight sunroof – a tricky, big-buck storm damage insurance claim – and a Jap-import Toyota Espacia/Tarago eight-seater parked in the driveway waiting for a windscreen is all in a ‘normal’ day’s work here.
“The Jap import stuff can be confusing,” explains Adriana, nodding toward the Toyota as she scrunches up
some plastic wrapping the Land Rover roof arrived in.
“Some of them have tinting and integral radio aerials.
So we need to know the difference and get the right screens… Sometimes it’s an educated guess!
“Much of our business is late-model stuff but we’ve become the ‘go-to’ company for classic car glass,” Adriana continues. I nod, confirming classic is why Beano and I are here today. She smiles proudly. “All that, and that, and that...” she says, pointing toward the back-half of the workshop, “…that’s all American and European stuff. Most of our stock is pre 1980.”
Closer to the front of the workshop, hand-written labels such as XA-XB-XC FRONT and STUDEBAKER alert us to racks and crates of old glass – to be used as templates for manufacturing replacement glass – and the racks of the resulting neatlylabelled new screens stretch from the floor to the twostorey building’s high ceiling.
That’s great for Australian classic car enthusiasts because when you need a screen or window glass for a classic car, you need it… There’s usually no bodging or borrowing from something or someone else!
Much of the glass Ralph himself supplied was made in Australia but since the closure of Pilkington in Geelong (eight years ago) and more recently Protector Glass Industries (Brisbane) and Australian Autoglass (Sydney) most windscreens are imported. The Moores make a selection from individual suppliers (in China, Vietnam, Europe and USA) to best suit each order. Not all overseas aftermarket manufacturers carry the full range of glass and different sales numbers and volumes have a bearing on cost and supply timeframes and supplier choice.
For instance, the company sells far more 1960s Mustang screens than the 1978 VW Karmann Beetle Cabriolet screen I bought here two years ago. Sometimes – as many classic car owners understand – there’s a wait for a particular model of screen (my VW one was a special order – but being for a restoration I didn’t need it immediately). However with around 5000 screens in stock, many classic car screens can be supplied immediately.
With the three Moore kids’ continuing dedication and enthusiasm even after the sad loss of their dad, that’s set to continue for a very long time. Well done guys.
RALPH MOORE AUTOGLASS Autoglass @ bigpond.com. (02) 9669 1628