Night Light


A misguided acquaintance of mine
recently bought an expensive
foreign (Japanese) “performance”
sedan. He couldn’t wait to take
me for a ride. Surprise, I wasn’t at
all impressed. My 440 R/T would
suck the headlights out of it in
a second. Actually, I’d like to do
that, as the best thing about the
car are the headlights. They make
my quad sealed-beams seem like
candles. Is there anything I can do
to bring my old ’69’s lights up to
2018 technology?

No problem! As you are probably
aware, there are available drop-in
sealed-beam replacements with
halogen lamp-technology. These
increase light output something like 50%,
and are quite inexpensive ($10-15 each.)
They are drop-in replacements, and are
readily available in both the 7˝ “single”
and 5¼” dual configurations. Current
draw is about the same as the original
vacuum-tungsten-glass “Edison” units, so
the existing wiring is fine. The exception
is the 5¼” hi-lo units, which are reduced
power and actually suck.

If you’re like me, though, you won’t be
satisfied with any of those. What you’ll
want are a set of Euro-spec quartz nonsealed
beams. These are called “H4” in
the hi-lo configuration, and “H1” in the hibeam-
only setup. They are also available
in both sizes of round lamps. Later (late
’70s–early-’80s) Mopar owners will also
find them available in both rectangular
sizes. eBay is full of ’em. These are a boltin
swap from a strictly mechanical point of
view. They don’t have aimer buttons (GM
actually called these aim right gizmos),
so they must be aimed optically. The H4s
use a different wiring arrangement, so
they typically are supplied with conversion
jumper wiring.
If you use the standard-power bulbs
these units are supplied with, you won’t
need any other wiring changes. The
real improvement, though, comes from
powering up to the bad-boy bulbs. I use
130/160 watts in my 7-inchers, it’s like
instant daylight. For these, though, you’ll
need to upgrade to at least 14-gauge wiring
(12 is better) and add quality relays.
Several vendors make these setups.
Hella is German, Cibie is French, etc.
These two European brands are similar,
and they’re fine, but be forewarned that,
in Europe, most highway signs are on the
right side of the road (not overhead,) so
these lamps are designed to emit little
light upwards on lo-beams. The Asian
brands have a beam pattern similar to
that of most older U.S. sealed beams,
and therefor require no familiarization.
These fareastern units are also great for
restifications.” From the outside, they look
very similar to the old U.S. sealed beams.
Understand, though, that none of these
are sealed, and are more prone to corrosion,
fogging, etc., than the old sealed beams.

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