Very specific headlight request

crdiscoverer

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Hi folks,

Having all my other cars retrofitted or OEM-equipped with great HID and LED projectors (EvoX-R 2.0, Morimoto Mini D2S and OEM BMW Adaptive LED), I'm left wanting better light output for my Japanese "classic" car. Right now it has 7" Koito H4 sealed beam replacements which are widely regarded as some of the best halogen headlights ever made, but they are still halogens and my car's tired old alternator and voltage regulator would greatly benefit from LED's lower power usage.

I had an idea after seeing many Datsun 510s retrofitted with BMW E30 "smileys" which are easy to adapt in cars with 5" 3/4 sealed beams and they end up with all the benefits of a projector pattern along with a period-correct look (there are even projector upgrades for E30 lights). Here is one example:

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I'm looking to do something similar but my car has 7" headlights, so the E30 retrofit is not an option. All current HID and LED 7" sealed beam replacements, which are mostly aimed at the Jeep community are too modern, alien-looking and I don't want to spoil the fluted, classic look. I have tried the Holley RetroBrights and came away unimpressed (not a significant step up from the Koitos and lots of weird shapes and bright/dark spots in the beam pattern.

What are my options here? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. I have thought of devising a way to mount and hide 90mm bi-LEDs in a way that they become my main beams while retaining the 7", but I can't figure out where. Here's my very own car for reference:

DSC04599-Edit.jpg
 

John_Galt

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I Would avoid the morimoto joint venture with "modern" LED sealed beams. There has been some discussion here, the testing discussed by the past moderator -Virgil- said they were not a product worth serious consideration.

Trucklite has made their 7" round sealed beam replacement for years, and it is a very good lamp, but is does have some weird shadowing in the lowbeam, and a high color temperature. It uses a complex reflector paired with a clear lens, so it may not keep the aesthetic you are looking for.

I understand your concerns about the Hella 7" bixenon projector, they do look kinda goofy even on their target market, modern jeeps. Definitely not aesthetically pleasing on an older vehicle.

However, you could explore the possibility of using those and mounting a set of the morimoto sealed 7" fluted lenses over/ in front of the hella bixenon lens, with the center section removed. The fluting would largely obscure the hella projectors chrome shroud, and you could also use the selective yellow lenses, which would further obscure the shroud and overall appesrance, but not result in the actual projected pattern and color temperature being effected. It would still be kinda goofy with the projector lens not being obscured, but it is an option. Securing the second lens may also be difficult, and I can't really point you to any buckets or retaining rings (and hardware) that would help accomodate a souble thickness lens.
 

crdiscoverer

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Yeah, I saw the thread and the discussion around the Holley Retrobrights. Honestly, they are not that bad and are a big upgrade from actual sealed beams or crappy H4 reflectors, old cars with highly resistive wiring, bad alternators and voltage regulators and misaligned, rusty adjusters. Having seen RetroBrights in person, I would rank them slightly higher than Trucklites. Still, they are at best a side-grade from "ideal conditions" Koitos.

Old cars have dismal headlights and need to be compared to something realistic, not a brand new H4 Koito reflector at 14 volts. Only a few weirdos like us care that much about night lighting. Even the popular Hella eCodes have this awful characteristic that causes the low beam to disappear when you turn on the high beams. I had them and never liked them.

Anyway, Dapper has exactly what I'm looking for: a fluted reflector with a central projector, and it looks decent too, but their technical data is nonexistent and it appears they use off-the-shelf, generic H11 projectors in a custom-built housing. I found photos of their beam pattern and it is dangerously narrow and dim, although it's really hard to tell since they give you nothing to compare against. I emailed them, asked for more info and their response was "we don't have it". What!?

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Dapper's approach would be my approach, but using better components. Like you said, building my own is probably the only solution. Sadly it's very hard to de-flute glass lenses and then there's the whole matter of sealed beam housings being too shallow for projectors, so I understand why nobody has gone through the trouble for what is a niche market.

The JW speaker "classics" look ok from certain angles, but their attempt at a fluted lens is half-assed and the 8700s line is very old at this point and for the price there are way better LED options out there (the Philips Integral Beams come to mind, but they have a modern look and lack the sharp projector cutoff).

JW Speaker:
with-8700-Evo-2-Classic-Headlights-2019--1200x1200.jpg
 
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John_Galt

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Glad you're shying away from the "dapper" lights. Theyre objectively crap just from the setup. Cheap projector mated with a cheap led retrofit type bulb.

The reason the koitos/other h4 based lamps shut off the low beam when the high beam is activated is because they can't run both filaments. The glass envelope would overheat and eventually fail, sometimes violently, damaging the reflector.

I don't know if the philips integral beam lamp is a philips product, or just a rebranding of the trucklite gen2 lamps, or a partnership with Tungsram's nighthawk LED lamps (tungsram bought GE's auto lighting section several years ago, and makes good bulbs and iirc lamps).

The jw speaker lamps are very very good. I have a friend who bought a set of them for his '74 toyota pickup. They're no slouch at all, and have been ripped off hundreds of times over by chinese manufacturers (which I cannot recommend, having bought, compared and torn apart several different types, the components are cheap and only 3of5 of the lamps I bought were even remotely well sealed against the elements). I think these would be the best option for replacing your koitos, unless you were to do what I oreviously mentioned, the Hella bixenon module with an overlapping fluted lens.
 

crdiscoverer

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The reason the koitos/other h4 based lamps shut off the low beam when the high beam is activated is because they can't run both filaments. The glass envelope would overheat and eventually fail, sometimes violently, damaging the reflector.

The Koitos are actually pretty good at avoiding this. I don't know how they manage it but they retain an almost identical low beam pattern when switching to the high beam filament. No wonder why Daniel Stern considers them the best 7" reflector. The Hellas have a great low beam OR a great high beam, but not both at the same time.

And speaking of Daniel Stern, I have been reading some of his posts in this other forum for a little while now and a few months back he started that thread on the more recent 7" headlights. He claims the Philips are the new king if you're after LEDs. I just wish they didn't look so out of place. He still recommends the JW Speakers, which is a good sign that even after this long they remain good and safe.
 
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