1957 Chevy Bel Air Headlights - Shine On

A New Twist To Better Lighting

Shane Reichardt May 1, 1999 0 Comment(s)
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The original T3 headlights your classic probably came with aren't really the best source of lighting for night driving. If you've ever attempted to drive down a dimly lit street using stock headlights, you know that all too well. For the most part, converting your lights to halogen has been the only option. Now ARB has another.

The name might not sound familiar unless you're into off-roading, but ARB sells an array of lights and lighting accessories. While talking to the staff at ARB we learned that they offer a replacement headlight that will fit most vehicles with seven-inch, round headlights (two headlights rather than four for most classic Chevys). The lens bolts in place just like the stock head lamps and utilizes a late-model style light that will plug into the existing harness.

According to ARB, the head lamp features double coated reflectors and hardened polished glass. The lens is prism cut and column cut, producing a right hand 15 degree rise for a better view of the road and shoulder. This lens can be used with any H4 bulb but we choose to go with ARB's new "Magic Bulb." The Magic Bulb is unique in that it features a max white coating that gives a similar color to high-intensity discharge (H.I.D.) lamps. ARB claims the bulbs are up to 75-percent brighter than standard bulbs. Now here's the kicker; when you shut off your headlights the Magic Bulb is equipped with a phosphorous ring at the base of the bulb that emits light for up to 10 minutes (perfect for attracting extra attention at the local cruise nights).

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There isn't much to the new lights. Simply install the new bulb (PN#M17) into the lens (PN#920H) and bolt everything in like it was a stock headlight. We called on the vast assortment of cars at D&P Classic Chevy for their assistance in installing the ARB lights.

Additionally, the lights can be ordered with various glowing colors.

When we heard about these trick lights we had to give 'em a try. Using a '57 Bel Air we installed the lights in about 15 minutes. The result was phenomenal. The light was far brighter than the halogen lamps that were already in the car. The color of the light was much whiter and had almost a bluish tint to it (similar to that of many late-model European cars). When compared to the dull yellow/orange color of stock headlights, the conversion made an incredible difference. No, it didn't gain any horsepower, but this is an easy way to improve your car's overall performance... in just minutes.

Now the downside. The lenses we installed from ARB aren't currently Department of Transportation (DOT) approved. This means that in most cases they are illegal for use on public streets. Therefore, you may want to check with your local authorities before adding them to your cruiser. However, they are perfect for that show vehicle and/or off-road machine. And they are perfectly suited for sitting in a cruise night parking lot and night driving around the showgrounds.

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