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Thread: 94 Buick Roadmaster Lighting Upgrade Advice?

  1. #1

    Default 94 Buick Roadmaster Lighting Upgrade Advice?

    So, I have a new (to me) 94 Roadmaster Estate and the lighting is...dismal, compared to my Volvo 242. Admittedly, it /is/ cheating to compare the Buick to the Volvo, because the Volvo has 7" Cibie E-codes with Philips XtremeVisions and a relay harness, but the point still stands... I have a new car, and the forward lighting is terrible compared to the 40 year old Volvo parked next to it. How do I fix this? A relay harness is a given, because stock GM wiring, but past that...

    Also, on a semi-related note, is there an easy-ish way to convert to the T84 spec taillights with the amber turn signals (read: I hate red turn signals... I hate them, hate them, hate them because they aren't unambiguous!!!) instead of the red, or are the brakes and turn signals sharing a feed wire?

    I know the T84 headlights used to exist, but a set of those is worth more than I paid for the car.


  2. #2

    Default Re: 94 Buick Roadmaster Lighting Upgrade Advice?

    You're pretty much screwed. Sorry to be so blunt about it, but it's true: the '91-'96 Chevrolet Caprice and similar-year Buick Roadmaster and Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser have awful headlights. The European version wasn't better than the US version, just different and still severely inadequate. GM went from a quality, very high-performance headlight system on the '87-'90 Caprice, to this cheap and nasty junk on the '91-up models...perplexing until you remember this is the kind of thing GM does, routinely.

    Of course there are all kinds of toys and games available, marketed as "upgrades" with clear lenses, projectors, LED arrays, etc. All with the durability and performance of a 49-cent "Rolecks" watch bought from some guy named Slide in a back alley. Unless you're prepared to build a custom solution with headlamp modules (Hella 90mm or similar types from other makers) and a fabricated bezel, along the lines of what Morette used to do, you're stuck with what GM offered.

    Make the best of it by making sure everything is in tip-top condition. That would mean new genuine GM headlamp units -- no longer manufactured, but still findable for example here and here. Wire it up with a relay setup from Dan Stern or another reliable vendor. Put in the best bulbs available, and make sure the lamps are aimed carefully and correctly, either with a mechanical aimer (the kind that interfaces with the three aim pads on the front of the lens) or an optical aimer -- not using a slipshod "shine them on the wall" method.

    All of that will make them better. They still won't be great, but they'll be livable.

    As far as the taillights go, there are no "T84 spec taillights". T84 is the GM code for ECE headlamps for right-side traffic; it has nothing to do with taillights or anything else. The codes for export tail/stop/turn signal lights were T89 and T90. There were export tails for these wagons, but it will take some extraordinary luck to find any of them. They had an amber-lens turn signal section at the bottom where the home-market lamp has the reversing light, and the reversing (and rear fog) lights on the export cars were in a clunky, ugly housing thrown onto the tailgate or rear bumper. Putting amber bulbs in the reversing lamps does not convert them into turn signals; the two functions have different light distributions. If you are dead-set on having amber turn signals on this wagon, you could maybe see if this guy in Australia could make a set for you based on a set of US lamps sent to him. You'd want to leave the reversing light where it is and have the main lens half red and half amber (or I suppose it could be half red and half colorless and you could use an amber bulb in it). There would need to be a separator plate added between the brake/tail and turn signal compartments so that you don't get light bleeding over from one into the other.

    The car does have combined brake/turn signal wiring, but that's not very difficult to overcome, it's sort of the least of your troubles.

  3. #3

    Default Re: 94 Buick Roadmaster Lighting Upgrade Advice?

    You mean those lights from Jimmy's Headlight Emporium with the RGB halos, Grade F projectors and the super-thin, pre-distorted polycarbonate lenses designed by someone who was two sheets to the wind on a Friday afternoon aren't fit for road use? Color me surprised. /s

    I'm not surprised there aren't any good options on the market, to be honest. It's a 25 year old car with marginally-compliant lighting from the factory, and an aftermarket that appears to be more about the cheap bling than quality.

    If it wasn't for the lighting, the car would be fantastic... As it sits, it has NOS GM headlights on it already with the XtremeVisions and a homebrew relay harness (10ga wire, ceramic connectors for the relays/bulbs, quality NOS Bosch relays from back when they were still made in West Germany in weatherproof boxes, individually fused circuits for Hi/Lo on each side...), and they're still somewhere between dismal and "Did the engineer who designed these ever drive at night?"

    The good news is, I still have the original headlamp units in a box, so I have a template that isn't attached to the car, to DIY a Morette-style setup. I figured it wouldn't be plug-and-play to make them decent, but I thought I'd see if there's anything I skipped, or a properly-compliant option I missed.

    For the taillights, I'm going to bite my tongue and deal with the red. I hate red turn signals (see above comments about ambiguity with amber vs. red and how red turn signals should never have ever been allowed on the roads), but I don't hate them badly enough to go through that level of effort. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not qualified to design/engineer a properly compliant taillight conversion that retains reverse lighting, has amber indicators and looks like it belongs on the car, so they're staying as they are.

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