Hooniverse Asks- What Car has the Coolest Ancillary Driving Lights?

Headlights. That’s not just a euphemism for  lady boobs, it’s what lets us drive at night without running over the nocturnal. But sometimes 55 watts of illumination just ain’t enough, and that’s when auxiliary lights come into play. And, as far as design goes, that’s where car makers exhibit a little bit of individuality. Round, rectangular, Rally-emmulating or reserved, ancilary lights not only help us see, but they help out cars stand out in a crowd.
One of the latest trend in such automotive lighting is the LED string, promoted most aggressively by the German car maker, Audi. (RANT) Sorry to inturupt this Hooniverse Asks, but I have to make a point about those Audi LAD lights. The company has been dropping the Christmas Tree lights on their cars for a couple of years now, and when they’re lit up, the cars look all future groovy and all but the problem is, they don’t seem to always light up. Seriously, it’s damn-near 50% of the Audis I see that have one side of the LED lamps lit up like it’s JFK’s main runway, and the other side darker than the inside of a well digger’s ass. Audi, seriously, if you’re going to make this a major brand identifier, make sure that it works all the time, dumbscheiße. (END RANT)
Some cars hide their driving or fog lights in an under-bumper valance, or set in grilles, while cars like the old STI celebrate them as almost more important than the heads. Whatever way they present them, what the coolest? Which car has the Fonzi of ancillary lights?
Image source: [Frugalyankee.com]

111 Comments

    1. A guy at work was showing me pics of his baby, an all original '73 Trans Am. He got the optional Cibie road lights when he bought it new for and commented that similar lights would now cost closer to $600.

    1. Wonder if it was an Electra Park Avenue?
      For a while my mother and grandmother had almost matching black 1985 and 1986 Buick Park Avenues. The only difference was the pinstripe and the interior color.
      Hard to imagine Nana's Buick with a roo bar and driving lights.

    2. If this is also the clamshell hood entrant for yesterday's Hooniverse Asks, this is shaping up to be one of the coolest cars ever*!
      *in my book. I've been irrationally attracted to rectangular foglights ever since Initial D The Movie happened. This world needs more rectangle-themed cars so I could put more rectangular foglights on 'em!

      1. I'd be happy just to see my fellow Fargo/Moorhead drivers bother to replace brake lights. Every day I end up behind someone that only has the CHMSL left working. Almost makes a guy wish for annual safety inspections.

  1. As a bit of an aside, I've never understood the infatuation some drivers seem to have with running their factory "fog" lights all the time, even when it's so clear out you can see the moon.
    They're usually not very bright, and by design only throw light onto the pavement immediately in front of the car. (Unless the vehicle has been in some kind of parking stone or accident mishap, in which case they tend to shine right into the rearview mirrors of the car ahead.) To me, using them routinely just kind of says "I'm a tool" and is pretty lame. The transition from tool to douchebag occurs when drivers use them with the parking lights, leaving the actual headlights off completely.

    1. I modified the driving lights on my Focus with 65W high beam bulbs. They are very functional now, but I don't use them very often.

    2. I've noticed that some cars, particularly Mazdas, the headlights throw well ahead so with the fog lights on I had a better feeling of seeing what was far away and the road closer to me. It's just psychological, in fact might be worse in some way for night vision or something, but I like to have that feeling that I can see more, even though it might be too late for what I see in the fog lights.

      1. I've been to several different advanced driving schools, and every one of them taught us to look well ahead and not at the patch of road right in front of the car.

        1. Out here it was still snowing last weekend, the frost-cycles/plows do a number on the pavement. Makes sense to see what might only be that shadow far off (if you can see it at all) and go around it if necessary. Whatever I'm lame, but none of my current cars have fog lights anyway. I'm the guy that ,misused the rear fog light too. Like for my dad to easily pick me out in traffic when we had two carloads going one destination.

      2. Composite-lens rear-drive Volvos let you run the high and low beams simultaneously if you hold the stalk… but I suspect that's terrible for the lifespan of the bulb.

    3. I regularly run my lifted wrangler with just the bumper mounted fogs as a courtesy to other drivers, given that the normal headlights light up the interior of any car in front of me like a cop at a traffic stop.

      1. Fuck courtesy. I run my stock headlights in the F150 uncaring if it illuminates the interiors of cars in front. It helps direct slower traffic out of the way in the evening hours. And if they really piss me off, I fire up the 100W PIAA Fog Lights.
        /sorry for the rage, I had a little old lady try to run me off the road on my way back from a morning meeting.

        1. In that situation, I've found that a well-positioned visor vanity mirror and/or side mirror can be a nice "right back at ya'" to the offending vehicle behind me. Especially fun in bumper-to-bumper traffic when as they try to slowly weave from side to side to avoid the glare from their own lights.

        2. And that's where a 12V, 1,000,000 candlepower spotlight aimed over the shoulder comes into play.
          I drive a low car. Fuck your stupid truck with headlights that blind me no matter what. People like you make me not feel bad about having HIDs installed.

          1. Unless the HIDs were separate lamps, it actually would be a worse situation than the tall truck having FMVSS 108 compliant headlamps and non-compliant auxiliary lamps; perhaps even worse for yourself than for other drivers. Per NHTSA there is no such thing as a street-legal, compliant HID conversion for a halogen light housing. HID lamps simply work differently from incandescent bulbs. I would guess that if a car has both halogen and HID options that the HID setup could be installed on the halogen-equipped car and be legal, but most of these kits simply provide a HID bulb which has been modified to mate up to the halogen reflector.

          2. His truck's headlights may blind you, but unless he's got his high beams/fogs on (in which case I'd brake-check him, and have done so to an F-150 in the past) he's not done anything intentional, and his lights work as intended. Now, your HIDs, as ptschett said, probably throw light all over my face when I'm coming the other way (at a much higher closing speed, mind) and the only thing I'll have time to do is assume your brights are on and give you the finger.
            None of this is necessarily true, mind… and I agree that there's no excuse for tailgating with a high vehicle at night, and even that a portable spotlight is perfectly justified in extreme conditions.

          3. Wait, ford pickups (especially the super duty ones) can turn off the blinding foglights? Because that's news to me. Although as far as tailgating, a disproportionate amount of the trucks are chevy silverados. Not a problem on a winding road, because trucks can't corner worth a damn, but really annoying on straight roads and in traffic.
            I've got 3000k 35W hids in my low beams. They have a cutoff that is aimed properly, and are not blinding (I made sure by driving in my friends cars and having another friend drive behind, next to, and at me in my car). If I got flashed all the time, I'd have pulled them off the car. The only bits of scattered light go up at such a high angle that they aren't a concern. I got flashed before I aimed them properly, but after that I was flashed maybe twice in a year (once involving a hill, once when the headlights got knocked out of aim when the bulbs were reinstalled improperly). Before that, I had 9005 high beam bulbs fitted into my low beams (the stock 9006's suck on the accord), and I was flashed more.
            Regardless, I'm retrofitting a set of real projectors into my headlights this summer when I have some money because I want a sharp cutoff and a more even light distribution.
            TL;DR: They aren't fucking blue and blinding, they are aimed proprely and due to luck my headlight housings have a fairly decent cutoff. They are certainly brighter than stock, but not really that bad at all being that the stock headlights were garbage. You basically have to be sitting down in the road to get blinded by me.

          4. All right. I'd figured anyone on here had done their research, and I'm glad to hear it. And yeah, fourth/fifth-gen Accord headlights leave a fair bit to be desired.
            I don't know if those F-150s can turn off their fog lights – I just know that they don't. Same with turn-of-the-century Pontiacs, as someone else mentioned.

    4. On my car, they are used as the DRLs. I don't have a choice in the matter. When I turn on the real headlights, the fogs turn off (unless I put them back on manually). I agree though that those who run around with aftermarket fogs on in the non-foggy weather are goofballs.

      1. If they're pulling out in front of a bright red pickup, I don't think their ability to see you is the problem!

        1. Word. But at least I would have all the bases covered on my end, therefore having a more valid reason for removing the rest of the "at fault" driver's teeth. 🙂

      2. Smoked headlights + always-on fog lights is kind of like wearing a parka and having to run your a/c at full blast.

        1. Well, I guess it's a good thing that I don't require your approval in order to get a good night's sleep.
          As a bit of an aside, I never understood the infatuation some commenters have with ruining a perfectly good thread with their "opinion."

      3. During WW2, the US experimented with techniques to make aircraft harder to shoot down.
        They found that one of the most effective ways to make it more difficult to judge a vehicle's distance or speed was to put bright lights on it.
        Eyes do not focus on light sources as well as they do on object illuminated by ambient light and the glare and dazzle from lights makes the whole vehicle harder to hit… if your goal is to shoot it down…
        However daytime running lights are intended to have the opposite effect – making the vehicle more visible. And sure, it makes it harder to ignore a vehicle that's blinding you.
        But it has the side effect of making it more difficult for other drivers to truly ascertain your distance and velocity leading to people pulling out thinking that you are further away or moving slower than you actually are.
        For this reason, DTRLs are not really effective at decreasing accidents or pull-out nuisances.
        American car manufacturers lobbied (unsuccessfully) for them under the guise of safety, but really it was just a move to make US market imports that much more different than their foreign market vehicles increasing development costs for foreign manufacturers. It's not REALLY about safety.

          1. I agree completely under these circumstances – on a bright day, with the sun in my eyes, I've been known not to see pavement-coloured cars as soon as I should have (like, before I pulled out and had to gun it). The real solution is to mandate interesting paint colours.

          2. I like it! No more boring paint jobs!! Candies and metalflake for the masses!!

        1. Finland has required headlights to be used 24H a day for ages. Thanks to the extremely northern latitude, there's a lot of sunlight coming in at a shallow angle. It's much harder to spot a car without driving lights in these conditions. The legislators put the requirement on the driver, not the manufacturers so with most older cars you just had to remember to turn them on or off. Volvos of course had the headlights wired through the ignition switch so that you can leave the light switch ON, but the lights turn off if the key is in position 0.

          1. Is that a Finnish-market thing? If not, when did it start? I know that the lights on my (US-market, 1965) PV544 don't turn off when you turn the ignition off.

          2. My '62 544 is the same way, as is my '67 122s. However, my '92 960 does have them wired to the ignition. No idea when it started though, I'd guess with the 240. It's actually a great feature, except it can take some time to remember to turn lights off when driving anything else.

          3. Finland has been that way for ages, though they have had some quirky traffic rules over the years. I.e. Pre-85, third brakelights were illegal, cops would ticket you and make you cut the wires – After-85 they became mandatory safety equipment on new cars. I don't know if countries have similar legislation, but Volvo started doing the automatic headlights voluntarily on all cars starting with the 240 series, regardless of market. PV's and Amazons had just regular light switches, I'm not sure about 140 series.
            Some were modified by the importer to be that way. On our old Hyundai , with ignition key in position I, the headlights were on with light switch in off position. Parking light position was just parking lights and on position would light up the headlights and the aftermarket auxiliary lights we had on it.

        1. Again, if I was trying to impress a bunch of Internet commenter trolls, I would probably have to drive something with faux carbon-fiber stickers draped all over the dash, and cheap riveted-on ground effects that are all busted from curb rash, on something like a Saturn, or a Neon. Oh, I can forget the fart can exhaust. Then you would probably think that was tight, eh brah! In short, go fuck yourself.

    5. Wow, why all the hate? It drives me crazy when I see foglights on all the time. The worst offender I've seen lately was a truck with some rectangular LED "driving" lights. Just eight LEDs on each, with no optical control (just a plain clear cover). Blinding to oncoming drivers, with all the optical precision of a 100-watt light bulb.

    6. If my Dodges are typical, the manufacturers deserve as much blame as the drivers. All I have to do is push the fog light switch once, and forever after they'll light up with the low-beams or parking lights; the setting persists after shutdown and can only be cleared by hitting the fog light switch again.
      It doesn't help that factory "fog lights" are practically unregulated. Some of them seem even worse for glare than the vehicle's low beams! ('03-'06 Chevy pickups for example.) Some Pontiacs and such must have the fog lights wired into the parking light circuit, because I don't think I've ever seen a '97-'03 Grand Prix with its lights on and fog lights off.
      That said I have no shame about flashing my foglights at low-beams-and-fogs drivers on a clear night (you're making tons of glare!), or flashing my low-beams at the fogs-only/clear weather crowd (I assume their vehicles are set up like mine, their fog-lights-on mode is toggled, and they've simply mistaken their fog lights for their low beams…. not a bad assumption with how many cars I see running around with just low-beam DRL's going at night.)

      1. That is a nice setup and was a considered option. Unfortunately the replacement grille does not push down brush in front of the truck.

    1. Ah actually I see it was mentioned in the whole asks bit.
      I should really start reading articles. It's like I only come here for the pictures… and ID points of course!

      1. I've noticed that the points system seems to be on a logarithmic scale. You zip right along up to the 90s or so and then it requires multiple +s and replies to gain a single point. I've been stuck at 98 for a week or two at least.

    1. I can see why Dodge tried … that beast's braking distance from speed was probably twice the throw of its headlights.

      1. The later C-bodies with disc brakes could come to a complete stop from 90mph amazingly well, once, possibly twice a day.
        My drum-equipped C-body slows from 90 to 30 crazy fast. The last 30mph however takes 2 strong legs, several hundred feet on a wide shoulder, a puckered sphincter and a frightening amount of wheel smoke. At that point the power steering comes in handy for dodging stationary objects.
        Plan ahead for best results.

        1. Nice description of the stop from 90. Reminds me of an especially scary and squirrely attempt at braking in a Satellite wagon several years ago.

    1. I agree with the lower ones on the Dodge; the front end would be different without them. But weren't they turn signals? The new Challenger has the same design, but they're foglights and the inner two of the quad headlights are low beam and turn signals.

  2. the best headlights are at the moment gas discharge xenon headlights its like night and day. everybody else just uses the cheap blue light bulbs but my buds 97 honda accord wagon has them factory fitted and once you use them, it makes your regular car like hanging a torch out the window to get more light.

  3. Probably not the coolest, but the MINI accessory driving lights sure are pretty. I was at the autoshow when they had these special editions out, and I was trying to figure out how they attached the light to the grille to see if they would fit on any other car. Looking back it might've looked like I was attempting to pocket them like punks pocket A/C knobs…
    <img src="http://www.autoevolution.com/images/testdrive/gallery/mini-cooper-s-mayfair-50-2010-329_2.jpg&quot; width=500>

    1. I almost feel bad thumbs-upping this, because it doesn't look as though your 245 has fogs mounted over/under the bumper like it should.

  4. I have a 1958 Plymouth, so this post caught my eye. I still get a little creeped-out when walking in front of the car with the high beams on.

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