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Mature Miata Becomes Unlikely Corporate Spokesmodel

Peter Tanshanomi December 13, 2012 All Things Hoon 61 Comments

As some of you may know, I work in the Marketing Department at automotive/motorcycle lighting manufacturer Peterson Manufacturing. Our team was recently tasked with rolling out the company’s first LED headlight. This product was developed primarily for the medium- and heavy-duty truck market, because many of them still use the 7-inch round PAR56 halogen sealed beam that this new light replaces. But LED forward lighting is pretty cutting-edge, and our engineers put a lot of extra effort into this one, so we wanted to highlight all its possible applications, including 4x4s, motorcycles…and passenger cars. What would make a good car to feature in our beauty shots and promo reel? The correct answer (as with a remarkable number of motoring questions) was “Miata.” In this case, a well-worn but stalwart ’92 Miata NA with 140,000 miles on the clock. That a multi-million-dollar company would feature an old, high-mileage cult car in its advertising is an unlikely Cinderella-at-the-ball story the Hoonisphere can appreciate.

The PAR56 form factor is alive and well among bikes, and the Jeep Wrangler, Toyota FJ Cruiser and Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen all used the PAR56 sealed beam as recently as 2006, so we weren’t concerned about finding trucks and bikes to shoot. But passenger cars? They’ve totally abandoned sealed beams in favor of slick, plastic-lensed aero light assemblies. Sure, the Federally-mandated PAR56 was ubiquitous from 1940 to 1983, but other than hot rods, the classic car market will probably not flock to newfangled LED lights (“6 volt electrics are fine, my good fellow!”). And furthermore, none of us had a cherry ’57 Chevy or Series II E-type lying about. The Miata made sense because not only was it the very last passenger car to stick with PAR56 sealed beams, but there are still plenty of crazed Miata fans still willing to shell out significant dough to upgrade their rides (unlike, say, current Datsun B210 owners). And we needed to look no further than the executive parking area to find one: our engineering manager’s faithful first-gen Miata. This car has seen its fair share of bumps and scrapes in its long life, but the mechanicals have been meticulously and lovingly cared for by its owner and it has a lot of life left in it. We’re all hoping the PAR56 headlight design does, too.

NOTE: Someone mentioned a $999/each price in the comments. This is wildly wrong. Pricing has not been finalized, but that price is about 4x the expected retail price. This light is designed to be price competitive with other similar LED headlights.

Here’s the completed promotional video starring this “mature amateur,” along with a Wranger TJ and a Harley Street Glide:

From PMLEDHeadlights.com

FULL DISCLOSURE: Nobody paid the guys at Hooniverse anything for publishing this story. Peterson does pay me a salary, and part of my job is to come up with ways to promote products such as this one. And I did write this post on company time. But given how many times I’ve written and commented on Hooniverse about other stuff while on the clock, it’s probably about time.

  • Just the thing for my Healey! I probably need to convert to negative ground, right?

    When will they be available and how much will they cost?

    • Jon

      I was thinking the same thing for my MGB GT. Currently, I have my eyes on the Hella Vision Plus with H4/HB2 bulbs, but this might be a good alternative.

      What's the power consumption? Aging classic car wiring can greatly benefit from the lower power loads that LEDs offer.

      • Scoutdude

        If you are going for the Hella get LHD E-code units that is what I run on my Scouts. To keep them from taxing the old frail wiring I add relays that draw their power directly from the alternator B+ stud and use the factory wiring to activate them. That way the original wiring only has to carry .2 amps. The E-code units have a nice low beam cutoff and a high beam that has some serious distance to it. Google Hella E-code vs Vision Plus

      • It's very low wattage for the output — 2 amp max on high beam.

      • FuzzyPlushroom

        I just can't stop grinning about "Hellavision".

        Yeah, yeah.

    • It fits a standard H4 connector. You could simply pop the terminals out of the plug and switch the wires around as needed.

  • Preludacris

    This is much more appealing than retrofitting HIDs.
    Make a 5×7 that's more affordable than the Truck-Lite product, and you have a prospective customer in me.

  • Ooooh I need a pair for my classic Mini. How about a promotional giveaway for the readers of Hooniverse?

    • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

      Heck if these are made in the USA and the price is not out of reach, I'll buy a pair and T can use the photos for promotional ends. I know a photag as well, I might even throw in some donuts! <img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-rasUCODYVHc/UHQj2hJsoDI/AAAAAAAAFCk/dDfyEV-HGC0/s650/IMG_6345_2.jpg"&gt;

      • slipperytrombone

        What does being made in the USA have to do with anything? If anything it should be a turn off. They will just break.

        • slipperytrombone

          Also cost way too much.

        • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

          Hey T, you guys make fog lights too?

          Edit: Okay I walked the dog, calmed-down, and edited-out seven letters from the beginning.

          • slipperytrombone


            • KevinKiley

              He took out the part where he said to you what all of us want to say, you putz.

              • slipperytrombone

                I dont really get why everyone is so made. I am right. Our crap cost too much and is usually garbage. Do you have evidence to the contrary? No? Thought so.

  • Dude…that is excellent and so creative…loved the write up and the ingenuity. Thanks for sharing.

  • Scandinavian Flick

    Patiently waiting for [REDACTED]'s tabloid "journalists" to pick up on this "controversial marketing technique". *eyeroll*

    This is very cool. I might have to consider these for the Brick. Admittedly, I am not too familiar with lighting technology, but would a subtle color shifting ability be possible with these? Might make it more marketable to the tuner scene as well…

    • No, it's OK because he had a disclosure statement. You can do whatever you want in journalism as long as you have a disclosure statement.

      Full Disclosure: I wrote this comment while pummeling baby seals with a 9 iron.

      • McQueen

        You are very right it seems if you just slap a couple extra words at the end it's all good.

        Full Disclosure: I watched Engineerd beat those pups as I ate a grill cheese samich and cheered on

    • color shifting = illegal. They have to be within a pretty narrow range of "white" to meet Federal regs.

      • Scandinavian Flick

        That's what I meant anyway. I don't need lights that can shift to red or purple or green. I was thinking more along the lines to tuning it to preference from the light blue of some HIDs to white to the slightly yellowish of older halogen bulbs.
        Just out loud brain flatulence thinking of other potential advantages of this…

  • Bud Craylig

    Search showed a site offering them for $999. each. $999. Each. Good luck with that!

    • Jon

      Yikes and wow. I know LED technology is new, but wow.

      I'll stick to the Hella Vision Plus H4/HB2 conversion for my MG.

    • Scoutdude

      Ok that is just insane, makes the Trucklite units look affordable. If that is the real price then I'll stick with my Hella E-codes the best Halogen 7" round I've found and I've tried quite a few options over the years.

    • Preludacris

      I almost think that must be a mistake, a place-holder price until they are in stock, or something like that…

    • dukeisduke

      If it's the one I saw (foxtaillights.com), it says, "Sold individually", but also says, "For case quantity order 1". Now I'm confused. I looked at the high-res photos on PM's site, and "PROUDLY MADE IN USA" is cast into the aluminum back.

    • Um, no. Pricing has not even been finalized, but think in terms of a quarter of that price, and that's popping for full retail. They will definitely not be more than the Truck-Lite LED lights.

      • Scoutdude

        They need to be much less than the Truck-Lite ones if they are going to sell in significant numbers.

        • Why? They're at least comparable in quality—according to our engineers even better.

          • Preludacris

            Sure, you'll sell a lot to truckers, who will benefit most from the product. That should not be an issue.

            When it comes to the general public such as m'self, money may get in the way. To sell well on the mass market, this will have to cost less than a decent HID retrofit.

            • McQueen

              There is a little saying, " Quality over quantity ". If it is a quality product and will last a long time, I have no problem shelling out extra monies

              • Preludacris

                It's a good saying, I tend to agree with it actually — within the bounds of my budget. The problem here is the small budget.

                Yes, there will be well-heeled enthusiasts who take the opportunity to fix one of the weak points of their older cars. And more power to them; I shouldn't be bitter because I can't afford to do the same.

                The fact remains, non-enthusiast drivers comprise by far the largest group of vehicle owners. The people who drive Calibers and Corollas: these are the ones who MIGHT consider upgrading to an affordable aftermarket bulb like a Sylvania SilverStar, if it catches their eye on the shelf at the right time. Now consider asking these people to spend ten times that amount on a product with such intangible benefits as durability and low energy consumption. It ain't happening, and so the LED headlight will remain a niche product until it is affordable.

                • FuzzyPlushroom

                  The more non-enthusiasts upgrade, though, the cheaper these products can become. Most of their price is sunk costs, after all, not materials (I can only assume, here).

            • Well, yes. If it were not for heavy-duty truck fleets, these products would not exist. The consumer market is just gravy.

          • Scoutdude

            Why, it has nothing to do with quality, it has to do with a price point that people can afford and justify the additional cost. $400 a pair (the best price I've found for the TL units) just isn't going to appeal to that large of numbers of people. Get them down to $150 per pair and I'd buy.

  • Scoutdude

    If you can put them out at a price point that is significantly lower than your competitions units that have been around for some time now you could have a winner. If they are anywhere near as expensive as those other guys they will never sell in significant numbers. I'm hoping they are available at reasonable price point and then I'd buy a half a dozen for my IH toys.

  • Alcology

    Hooniverse discount right?

  • mnm4ever

    The reflector buckets in my MR2 Spyder halogen headlights are huge, perhaps even bigger than this "standard" size. I have thought about retrofitting HID projectors for a while, but they look dumb because the projector is so small. This would be perfect if it could be converted into my halogens.

  • <img src="http://hooniverse.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Wide-Pop-Up-Static-cropped.jpg&quot; width=350>

    Happy Miata is Happy!
    (image appears courtesy of Hooniverse.com)

    • Alcology

      I kinda more picture this:
      <img src="http://www.bookmice.net/darkchilde/dark/dcm/947.jpg&quot; width="600">

      but then again, I'm a little off

      • I think I've dated her, or at least woken up next to a close approximation….

        • Alcology

          "How'd you sleep? You looked like you had a good sleep. I was watching you. And listening to you breathe. Just watching and listening…"

          • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

            Ha ha, man that made me laugh out loud here, good work!

      • calzonegolem

        No Skeksis, leave the Miatas alone!

        Grumble grumble prophecy grumble.

      • Jen

        I'm still a bit miffed that the girls get the wings.

  • Devin

    The NA Miata is kind of growing in prominence, isn't it? I noticed this in Looper too, they had a bit of a special reveal of the Miata the main character drives, and it was the only car in the movie that got that treatment.

  • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

    There's a Peterson Manufacturing in Plainfield, these lights made there?

  • dukeisduke

    I still miss the Cibie' Z-Beam headlights. I had a set that I had used on four different cars over the years, and I could still kick myself for leaving them installed in my '76 Vega when I sold it. They originally sold for less than 70 bucks a pair, and I just had to remember to swap sealed beams back in whenever I went to get annual state safety inspections (because they weren't DOT marked).

    • Scoutdude

      The Current Cibie E-code lights are pretty good, but hard to find, the Hella E-code is what I use now, but back in the day I had some Z-beams and I too moved them from car to car, however one of those cars got wrecked breaking one of the housings.

  • KevinKiley

    where can i buy? how much? my NA miata could use some new goggles.

    • Should be in sales channels in 8-10 weeks.

  • I would love a decent aftermarket solution for my 4X6 quad sealed beams on the LTD. They have Hella Euro conversions and H1/H4 bulbs, but the light output is still pretty weak compared to the factory HIDs I have on my Mazda.

    • MrHowser

      Mazda? What did you end up buying to replace the SVT?

    • bhtooefr

      Looks like they've got a 4×6 product: http://www.pmlights.com/products.cfm?cId=1&fI

      Unfortunately, brightness just isn't there – an H1 is rated at 68 watts, 1550 lumens +/- 15% at 13.2 V in Europe, or 65 watts, 1410 +/- 15% at 12.8 V in the US. Compare to this pathetic 800 lumen performance. Luminous efficacy is better than halogen, but who cares when the damn thing is as dim as a incandescent sealed beam, not even halogen? (And, HIDs have far better luminous efficacy.)

      And, they don't give a lumen figure for the round light, but I'm guessing it's still going to be quite underwhelming.

  • Rover1

    Will there be a version suitable for those of us who drive on the left hand side of the road (UK,Aus, NZ, Japan etc)? and will there be one with a Euro style cutoff rather than the DOT one? If yes to both these questions I'll order 50. Yes, 25 sets.

  • McQueen

    I was just thinking to myself, I'm suprised that an aftermarket company hasn't come out with a front bumper that has hidden headlights built into it for the newer Miatas