THE GLOBE VOL 49 No 1 APRIL 2023
L E D LIGHTS – A DISCUSSION
Mike Sampson: I had fitted LED side light/indicator bulbs to the dual filament holders within the side light units on my car. I loved the way they work and keep the car looking original but the bright LED side light didn’t look quite right. Classic Car LEDs now produce these ‘bulbs’ with a warm white light which still has much improved brightness over bulbs, but looks more in keeping with a classic car. The functionality is such that the side lamp goes out when indicating and this is replaced by the amber LED light, much like many modern cars where the daylight running lamp is switched off when indicators are in use (even on German cars).
I’ve attached a photo with the lamps lit, the original bright white LED lamp is on the driver’s side, the new warm white LED is on the passenger side. I’m very pleased with this find, and the service from Classic Car LEDs – see www.classiccarleds.co.uk. The bulbs cost £7.35 plus VAT. The twin filament bulb holders on my car are stop/tail units from a Morris Minor.
This may be of interest. Regards, Mike
Bob Hobbs: Whilst LED lights may be considered as out of place on a classic car, there is no doubt that being seen on our roads is becoming more and more important. I usually resort to dipped headlights whenever the roads are shaded by trees or just on dull days. My trip to Germany four years ago required either bright day running lights or dipped headlights as a legal requirement at all times on the roads in Germany.
I have the same arrangement as you describe, of sidelights and flashers in the sidelight with sidelight switching out whilst indicating. This works very well but I am more than tempted to have a brighter sidelight.
Harry Beacall: An interesting read, thank you. We were only discussing headlights and driving the cars in the dark at our local VSCC pub meet on Wednesday. I’ve got a couple of cars that run on 6v, where the issue is even worse, but LEDs are definitely the way to go. As well as being brighter, they draw less current.
I see from time to time on Facebook a debate on whether it’s legal to replace an incandescent bulb with an LED, the issue being LEDs in headlights not designed for them (or specially designed LED bulbs such as those Classic Car LEDs sell) which have no true beam pattern, and have known to dazzle other road users. In actual fact it IS illegal to fit LEDs to a vehicle with headlights designed for another type of bulb……if the vehicle was manufactured post 1986. A particularly vigilant MOT tester would fail a post 1986 car fitted with LEDs ( although I’ve seen many cars pass). Pre ‘86 you can do what you like!
Pre ‘82 you don’t even need an MOT any more, which I think is crazy! – Harry
Bob Hobbs: A further thought from my own experience may be worth making.
I replaced the original BPF bulbs in the headlights with halogen 60/55 watt BPF equivalent bulbs. The beam pattern remains identical to the original bulbs. When I first took over the Triumph from my father in 1965 I was making lots of night time 100 mile trips between home and university – mostly on A roads but a few B roads. Trying to see the kerb’s or verge’s position when there were oncoming vehicles led me to fit a pair of proper flat beam shape fog lights. This helped enormously but the local MoT testers always angled them down really low as they contravened the lighting regulations.
Moving on many years to the wedding trip to Germany four years ago, we were followed by some friends who were in a modern car carrying some spares just in case. We had booked into hotels for a number of locations, most of which were in rural areas and at which we were arriving in the dark. I have a very vivid recollection of driving down a steep hill in a forest with lots of bends, in the rain and with lots of Germans in a hurry behind and coming towards me. Trying to see the right hand edge of the road was the stuff of nightmares! In the end I asked our friends to lead the way so that I could more or less just follow their tail lights and hope for the best. The halogen bulbs that I have are supposed to be “ambidextrous” and suitable for either right or left hand drive use. Don’t believe it! There is lots of light, but not to the sides as with a modern reflector/bulb combination.
With the way that our headlights mount, one could perhaps have a servo motor control to swivel the lights to follow the front wheel angles. Lots of modern cars have a similar feature either with the main lights or auxiliary lighting. A new project for the winter maybe… – Bob
Mike Sampson: Thanks for your thoughts on LED lighting. My main reason for looking at this was in line with Bob’s view that brighter lighting helps us to be seen on the roads particularly as road users have become more used to seeing cars with daylight running lights. I don’t think that changing the headlamp bulbs would be of much benefit unless you do a lot of night driving where LED lights may provide more usable lighting. I haven’t tried this on a classic car but LED lights certainly work very well on modern cars.
As Harry says, the LEDs use much less power than bulbs which also helps the electrical systems in our cars, and that, coupled with increased visibility on the roads, sells it to me. I’m now going to fit a set of bulbs to the Minor.
I’m not getting much use of the cars at the moment as the local farmers have resurfaced the roads around here – there can’t be much mud left in the fields – and to think we had drought conditions not so long ago!