Taillight Housings - Cheap(quality, not price)!!!!
Here is my recent experience with aftermarket GTO parts. I am not new to the restoration business. I have been restoring Corvettes for many years, and consider myself 'experienced" when it comes to this aspect of classic car ownership.
I bought the 68 GTO taillight housing/lense kit for my car from one of the suppliers. I'd rather not mention who the supplier is because it is not their fault, it seems all of the suppliers use the same Taiwaneese parts.
I opened the lense box and was impressed with the quality of the part. The lenses look great, and hopefully will last another 45 years on the car.
I then opened the housing box and was somewhat disapointed to see them made of plastic. I guess I should have looked more closely at the description. Anyway, I figured that was the best I was going to get.
The wiring harness looks prety good, and they seemed to be a nice thick plastic part.
I pulled the bumper off the car yesterday and disassembled the factory housings and lenses. Even though they were metal and old, I think they could be cleaned up for someone looking for the LeMans tail lights.
I first noticed the plastic ones were molded to fit the bumper, specific to each side. One box was labled "RH" and the other was not, so I pulled out the "RH" unit. It fit like crap, but I got it on the bumper. Even with the thicker gaskets supplied in the kit, there was a gap at the outermost edge. I glued the gasket to the housings and went to lunch while they were drying.
When I retured, I started the install. That is when I realized there is no difference between the two housings I got. both were "RH". Even so, neither fit very well, so I decided to proceed, since I had already glued the gasket to them.
I had to go get my own hardware to bolt them to the bumper, because the factory housings have nuts pressed into the housing and the new plastic ones did not. Off to the parts store for bolts and nuts.
Then after I got them mounted, I put the bumper brackets back on the bumper and had to bend the ground straps flat to get them to fit, but that was no big deal.
I finished that part and flipped them over. This is when the real "fun" began. I grabbed the old bulbs and tried puting them in the new housings. Now, I am not an ASE certified mechanic, but I believe I am qualified to install a few 1157 and 1156 bulbs. After 30 minutes and ruining all 6 bulbs, I was successful in getting one back-up bulb installed. Off to the parts store for new bulbs.
Back with the new bulbs, I started more cautiously since I had jsut invested another $20 in my project. The sockets are the cheapest crapiest sockets I have ever seen! I spent another hour getting the bulbs installed and I am about 50% confident they will work.
Here is where I took a dinner break and got something to drink (non alcoholic) and eat.
Back at the shop, I was eager to get on with the installation. That is when I pulled out the new lenses and inserted the gasket, then the lense, then the screws... No screws with the kit, so off to the box for the original screws. I dropped the original screw in the hole, and it fell all the way to the head. Hmmm...WTF!
The housings have no provisions for screws. The holes in the housings are bigger than the lense, so I could not even use a self-taping screw if I wanted to. What to do, what to do. Off to the parts store for more screws or bolts. I found a screw kit that had 6 long screws that fit the lense and were just long enough to put a nut on the back of it.
I stepped back and started thinking some more. Those nuts have to be permanently mounted to the housings, so I can remove and re-install the screws if and when I need a bulb replaced. BECAUSE the only access to the back is after the bumper is removed from the car. I really don't want to have to remove the bumper each time I have to pull the lense to replace a bulb.
So, here I am at work, trying to find a glue that will last and stick to stainless and plastic and take the torque of tightening more than once. I think I will glue the nuts on, then cover them with something to keep them from falling off when I unscrew the lenses.
I also have to get another assorted screw kit so I have the other two screws I need.
I called the supplier and explained my dissapointment in a product that costs nearly $500, but is basically CRAP. The guy was sympathetic, but since they don't make the parts, they can't do much about it.
If there were another avenue for housings, I would try it out. The two suppliers i am aware of that specialize in GTO parts both sell the same crappy housings.
OK, I feel much better.
I'll post pictures as soon as I get them uploaded.
'68 LeMans "GTO" Convertible