Light up the darkness: aftermarket head/tail light options - Pontiac GTO Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-09-2014, 02:45 AM Thread Starter
 
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Light up the darkness: aftermarket head/tail light options

Lighting has come quite a long way since the muscle car era. Back then dimmer lights were fine because speed limits were much lower and drivers didn't have phones to text on, rarely ate on the go, and weren't bombarded with giant billboards every block, plus there were fewer drivers on the road. In today's age, however, we are surrounded by distracted and/or downright stupid drivers and I feel it is necessary to make our vintage rides stand out in the night and be seen by all. My biggest fear is to finish my car and then get rear ended on it's maiden voyage by some tween who was texting and doing her makeup and driving all at once.

So that being said, who here has used an aftermarket head/tail light on their goat? I've seen LED tail light bulb replacements that seem pretty interesting, and I've seen a few different headlights that are supposed to be whatever % brighter, but most of the ones I've seen look like marketing gimmicks. What are the best options to light up these old cars at night? Any photos compared to stock applications? Were any additional modifications needed? Were they affordable, and are you happy with the results?

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-09-2014, 09:36 AM
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Back in the good old days, we wore no seatbelts and ran around the interior of the car playing tag while our parents smoked unfiltered cigarettes and put them out in the bean bag ashtray on top of the unpadded, metal dash. Traffic was light, and traffic signals didn't exist on every corner. I grew up driving old tech lights, and since then, have owned and driven plenty of even more primitive 6 volt cars. Currently, I have a 1915 Ford that requires that the tail lamp be lit with a match. It's Kerosene. Has no brake light. I simply drive according to my lighting system's capacity. I have never run into anybody. That said, I have been run INTO. On motorcycles, I have been rear ended twice. Both times while sitting at an intersection with my foot on the brake pedal and my brake light on. Brake lights on cars and motorcycles built after 1969 must be visible for 1000 feet, and pre-69 it's 500 feet. That's pretty bright. But, you have a valid point. Today's drivers aren't actually focused on driving their cars anymore. You need something that'll get their attention. There are various LED lighting systems for the tail lamps on line, and a lot of guys have changed over. I think the single most effective is a third brake lamp at eye level. Statistics show that this is a huge game changer, and that's why it became mandatory in 1986. Headlights are another thing. You can go to halogen which are a direct swap and undetectable. Whiter light. Or you can be one of those @$$holes who blind everyone with blue headlamps. I have found that well maintained T3 sealed beams in my GTO's work just fine. I know a guy who drives a truck that has a train horn installed, and another guy I know of installed air horns off a big rig in his car. Those sound like fun, in the right situation. Where I live, a lot of folks drive around at night without any lights. These are clueless folks in late model cars, and they simply don't turn them on. I almost took out a kid in a black Cadillac last week when I changed into his lane and cut him off on the way to work (was pitch dark out and didn't see his black car at all). He was pretty upset, as was I. You can check out the PYforums under led lighting... few of those guys have upgraded. Good luck!
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-09-2014, 11:51 AM
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Somewhere in the not too distant past I read an article that posited (heh, Bear used a fancy word, posited) that the wiring in most headlamp circuits wasn't heavy enough to adequately supply power to the lamps. The article recommended modifying the forward lamp harness so that instead of supplying power to the lights themselves, it supplies power to the switching circuits on a set of headlight relays which in turn supply power to the lamps through big, fat, heavy wire circuits pulling directly from the battery.

It sounded logical enough to me that I'm considering doing that on my car.

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-09-2014, 04:30 PM Thread Starter
 
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That does seem like it would work. Since you're smarter than the average bear, Bear, why don't you give it a go and let me kow how it works out?

So here are a few things I found on eBay.

Dot Approved 68 69 70 71 Pontiac Firebird GTO 442 Xenon Look Halo Headlights | eBay

5 75" Halogen Semi SEALED H4 Crystal Clear Headlight Conversion w Bulbs Plymout | eBay

70 71 72 GTO LeMans LED Taillights Non Seq 1970 1972 | eBay

70 71 72 GTO LeMans LED Taillights Non Seq 1970 1972 | eBay

The LED taillights make a lot of sense and I will probably get those. But the headlights, I don't really know how to go about picking something better.

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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-09-2014, 05:45 PM
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The stock Halogen replacement type lamps I mentioned are considerably brighter than the stock units and require no mods, as they draw about the same current as the oem stuff. That said, technology has come a long way since the '80's, and better, brighter stuff can be had. In the reading I've done in off road magazines, it seems aftermarket off road lights are always hooked up using relays, bigger wiring, and often, an upgraded alternator to keep up with the load.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-09-2014, 09:32 PM Thread Starter
 
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That sounds like a pretty good idea. I need to replace my forward lamp harness anyways. Should I buy an original style one or just make my own with thicker gauge wire using my old one as reference?

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-09-2014, 09:46 PM
 
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go into any auto parts store and get a off the shelf headlight relay its triggered by your current headlight line then runs lamps directly from the battery. I used the same relay to fire the HEI distributor without any modifications to the stock ignition harness, handy little buggers.

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-17-2014, 10:17 PM
 
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IM looking at this harness and some lights similar to what you posted for headlights. But read on some of those lights you have to have a larger hole in the back of the headlight bucket.

5 3 4" H4 Headlight Relay Harness 4 Head Lamp Light System Fix Your Dim Lights 3 | eBay
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  Pontiac GTO Forum > The 1964-1974 Pontiac Tempest, Lemans & GTO > 1964-1974 Tempest, Lemans & GTO General Discussion

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