There are things in this world that work in the dark. Luminox watches, for example, SureFire flashlights, anything made by Trijicon. Note the conspicuous absence of C3 headlights from this list. With anywhere between 30 and 40 years of age (and advancing technology) behind them, they leave a lot to be desired for nighttime driving, especially when that driving involves lots of curves and lonely roads. While it's possible to upgrade the headlights themselves, there's also the time-honored option of auxiliary lighting, and that's where we're headed this month. Before the howls of "sacrilege" start to rise, let's take a minute to talk about this particular car.
Every well-built car is a unified whole, composed of disparate elements selected for how they fit into a single vision. In the case of my '72 coupe, aka "Scarlett," the goal is to create a chrome-bumper shark with performance and driveability that equals or exceeds that of late-model Corvettes. Since the car is regularly street driven, we're also trying not to wrap it around a tree or fling it off the side of a mountain, so things like actually being able to see the road matter.
In addition to making the car faster and better handling, we're adding styling cues from the road-race cars of the early shark era. While this car is not and never will be "correct," it should still look right within the bounds of what it's intended to be. With this in mind, the choice of which driving light to use was easy: Cibié.
Although there are plenty of other lights available--PIAA, Hella, Light Force, and KC Daylighters come to mind--when you look at old racing photos, the cars at Le Mans and other tracks generally had the distinctive yellow-and-black sticker of the French lighting company. Although Corvettes often appeared with rectangular lights for competition, it's hard to make that shape fit into the front of a Stingray and look right. Thus we arrive at the Tango light, which is a smaller, round light around 5 inches in diameter and with a shallow, 2-inch-deep back.
Devilishly hard to find (I ordered mine from Aardvark International in California), the Tango comes in a white or yellow fog beam, or a white drive beam. (It's also sold individually, so double the price you're quoted if you want a pair.) While the Tango used to be available with either a black housing or a chrome ring around the front, only the black is currently in production.
Pricing for Cibié lights varies quite a bit, but they're never cheap, which makes it reassuring that they come with plastic covers to protect that precious glass up front when they're not in use.
After installing mine and adjusting the angle a little, I find that they do exactly what I wanted, casting a clear, white light across and down the road. And since I wired them to the dimmer switch, I can dim them along with the high beams when there's a car in the oncoming lane. Once you've used them, you get a real sense for just how pale the wan light of the factory beams is.
I've used the Cibiés both on straightaways as well as up in the tight mountain curves, and they make a world of difference, with the extra light furnishing the confidence needed to negotiate the tightest corners--so much confidence, in fact, that it makes me wish that Scarlett held the road a little better...