Geoff Kirkpatrick britcarnut at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 14 17:55:43 GMT 2006

It was my understanding that sealed-beam headlamps were required on all
cars sold in the US from the mid-1930's until the 1980's.  At the time the
laws were written, sealed beams were the state of the art technology. 
Unfortunately, as technology advanced the laws didn't, so by the 1960's
the sophisticated systems seen on some European cars were unavailable
here.  As a teenage reader of Road & Track magazine in the 1970's I well
remember the frustration of the editorial staff at this state of affairs. 
I'm not sure exactly when the laws changed or what the substance of the
changes were, but around the mid-80's we finally started seeing more
modern headlights on cars.  

However, my 1960 P4 100's headlights are not sealed beam units but the
separate-bulb arrangement.  It's a California car since new, so either
there was some kind of loophole in the law at that time or the car was
fitted with non-US-spec lamps at some point.

And I think Glen is correct about the date of the changeover from clear to
amber signal lenses.  My 1967 TC's both have clear lenses, while my 1968
had amber ones.



Message: 4
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2006 05:29:12 -0500
From: Glen WIlson <glenwilson at cavtel.net>
To: rovernet at lyris.ccdata.com
Message-ID: <1142332152.5736.26.camel at ubuntu>
Content-Type: text/plain

I also think Richard is correct about the operation of the lights.

However, I think the clear parking light lenses continued at least
through 1967, not 1965. I think that they changed due to the new NHTSA
rules that came into effect for 1968 models (which also included
illuminated side marker lights, among other things). Later cars had
amber plastic lenses for the parking lights. 

I don't recall seeing the additional bumper-mounted directional
indicators on any 2000s, although I have only seen one NADA Series II
car. I'm pretty sure the '68 and '69 2000s didn't have them, so I don't
think it was the original NHTSA law that required them. (Could be wrong
about this, but the cars I've seen don't have the extra lights on the
bumpers.) The '69 NADA 3500S definitely had them, though. They rusted

There must have been something in the 1968 law regarding headlamps,
though. I think this affected cars like the Jaguar XKE and the little
Fiat 850 Spider, among other cars. It may have been a minimum height
requirement, but it also got rid of the clear plastic fairings that the
XKE had (as well as the early Ferrari Daytona and the Citroens,
including the SM). It's my impression that sealed-beam headlamps were
required prior to 1968, but they certainly were required after that,
which accounts for many sleek European having big bulging eyes in the
U.S. export versions (including the SD1).

I don't think the Federal regulations concerning bumper height came into
effect until the 1975 model year when the rubber-bumpered MGs graced our
shores. I think 1974-1/2 MGs might also have had them.

These are my foggy recollections, anyway...


"This is the final test of a gentleman: his respect for those who can be of no possible service to him."
- William Lyon Phelps

Geoff Kirkpatrick, 382 Riverside Avenue, Ben Lomond, CA 95005, USA

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