View Full Version : Low rise headlights

06-06-2007, 01:10 AM
Alright! So over the weekend I decided to try my hand at modifying the headlights on my AW11 project car/daily driver. It turned out pretty good, so I decided to share how I did it. Sorry, I didnít take pictures of the build process, but I will try to explain what I did in detail.

I saw the Revision6 headlight kit for the SW20 and thought that it looked pretty good on the car. For those who donít know itís a conversion kit that replaces the stock 6X9 headlight with two smaller round ones. Although it looks good on an SW20, the AW11 should have square headlights to match the more blocky design of the car (in my opinion at least). I like the idea of a mod that looks like stock until you compare it with a stock car and see that somethingís different. I also wanted to keep the lights legal and adjustable as opposed to a ďsleepy eyeĒ look that just points at the ground.


After a little searching I decided that 4X6 rectangular headlights would probably look good on the AW11. I just needed a way to mount them and modify the motors so they donít pop up all the way.

I was at the local wreckers on Sunday. I purchased a complete pair of AW11 headlight assemblies. I recommend getting spares if you want to try this just in case one gets screwed up too bad to use, and you can always return to stock if you or the local authorities donít like them. I also picked up headlight assemblies off of a Datsun truck, which had four 4x6 headlights. Now it was time to start modifying.

Tools I needed (for AW11, suspect 4th & 5th gen Celica similar):
-Long flat blade screwdriver
-Phillips screwdriver
-10mm wrench/socket
-14mm wrench/socket
-Bar of flat stock steel
-Small bolt with a small flat head (small lag style)
-Nuts to fit the bolt
-Some sheet metal
-Angle grinder with cut off and grinding disks
-Drill with various bits
(All tools and materials can be found at local hardware store)

First thing I did was open the hood and remove any plastic shrouds above/below/around the headlight. I left the trim on the bumper in front of the headlight for alignment reasons. I took off the plastic trim around the headlight and pulled the headlight mounts out by undoing the adjustment screws all the way and then removing the spring that provides tension against them.

I then used the grinder with a cut off disk to cut the Datsun housing in two (hi/lo beams). I put one half aside as I wonít be using it. I now had a complete housing with lights and the bracket it mounts to with two adjustment screws and a spring. The next step was just trial and error, cutting down the bracket (without cutting out the adjustment screw mounts or the part with the hole for the spring) to fit into the MR2ís headlight housing. This was a process of cut, adjust headlight motor by hand and hold light with bracket in place to see if it fits, cut, adjustÖ. lather rinse repeat. I ended up having to cut some of the stock bracket out of the MR2 to get the headlight to sit back far enough. I did manage to save the three mounting points for the stock headlight bracket (two screw holes and spring), just in case I ever wanted to undo this mod.


Once I had the light fitting how I wanted it I made some mounts out of some sheet metal I had lying around. Originally I wanted to bolt these between the two brackets, but that proved to be a little more of a challenge than I felt like taking on so I spot welded them in place. Before welding I used some bubble levels and jacks to get the car level and then used a level on the new headlight housing to get it level with the car. Take lots of measurements so you can duplicate this on the other side!!!! I checked to make sure that the plastic trim would fit back on (it did, without modification). The adjustment screws are functional but I had to mount the bracket so there is one on the outside edge and one on the top of the light. I had to do this because if I had the one on the bottom of the light I would not be able to get to it because the bumper was in the way. I still have to remove the plastic trim to get to the top screw, but Iím ok with that.



If I wanted to I could now just remove the fuse for the motor and drive with the headlights up all the time, but I still wanted them to close. So the next task was to adjust the lift mechanism.

Simply shortening the push rod will allow the headlight to only pop up so far, but as soon as you turn them off it will try to pull them down further than they can go. My first thought was to use some contact switches to disconnect power to the motors when they are at the right height, but having someone turn the lights on and off while I observed the motor proved this could not be easily done. The motors only move one direction and stop at 180 degree intervals. I thought they moved one direction for up and another for down. So now I was left with no choice but to modify the mechanicals.

First I put the headlights in the up position and removed the pushrods by gently prying with the flat blade screwdriver. Then I removed the electrical connections (plug) and the motor (three 10mm bolts). There is a cam arm attached to the motor and the other end of the pushrod. This is removed from the motor by undoing the 14mm nut and gently prying it off. Now I took the flat stock and cut it to about the same length as the cam arm. I drilled the hole for where it attaches to the motor and cut a slot big enough for the bolt on the other side. I put the bolt on with the threads pointing away from the motor. I used a nut to hold the bolt to the flat stock tight enough to hold, yet loose enough that I could slide it up and down the slot. I then mounted the piece back on the motor and loosely put the nut on so I could spin the piece without turning the motor. Check to make sure that the bolt in the flat stock will clear everything when the motor spins, if not you may have to take it off and bend the cam arm out a bit. I then put the motor back on and plugged in the electrical connections.


Next cut some of the end of the pushrod off (the end with the longer thread), not too much to start with (I did about 1/2 of an inch). With the motor mounted and reconnected turn the headlight off. Mount the push rod to the bolt and then connect the other end to the headlight housing. Rotate the flat stock independently of the motor so the headlight is in the lowest position. Tighten the nut on the motor holding the cam arm. The homemade cam arm should now be in the proper position on the motor. Adjust the length of the pushrod to hold the light housing in the correct closed position by screwing/unscrewing the mounts on the ends. Now turn on the lights and see how close you are to being where you want to be. If you want to be higher, slide the bolt on the cam away from the motor shaft. If you want to be lower, slide towards the motor shaft. Every time you do this you have to readjust the pushrod! You may even have to cut some more off. Keep at this until you find a cam position and pushrod length that works for both open and closed. Just remember that the shorter the distance between where the motor attaches to the cam arm and where the pushrod attaches, the shorter the pushrod has to be. In fact the amount of change on both should be almost equal.

Finally, when you have it so it opens to where you want it and closes to look stock, tighten the nut on the bolt in the slot. Remove the cam arm from the motor. Use it as a template to cut and re-weld the stock cam arm so it has the same distance from the mounting hole to the pushrod mounting ball as your homemade piece. Grind the welds smooth and make sure there is room for the nut to go back on. Remount to the motor and align again as you did to find the closed position (at this point you could do it with the headlight up, just mount it so the headlight is as high as it will go with the motor wires plugged in and the headlights on). For those who want to know I took about 15mm out of the cam arm between the centre pushrod mounting point and the centre of the hole for the motorís shaft.

Finally I had to readjust the headlight cover to sit flush when closed.

Lastly, take the cam arm and pushrod off and use them as templates to make a matching set on the other side. Use the measurements taken earlier to mount the headlight on the other side. Make sure that both sides rise up to the same height. Small discrepancies can be removed by adjusting the pushrod length and then turning the lights off and readjusting the cover plate. It should look stock when off and custom when turned on.

This step I havenít done yet, but will next weekend:

It is likely that all the cutting has left some sharp edges on the housings. Remove the headlight assemblies from the car and disassemble them. Using a grinder (might need a Dremel), remove any sharp edges. Now is a good time to remove any rust and shoot it with some black paint. Reinstall on the car and aim them properly. Put all the plastic trim back on and you are done! Homemade low rise headlights!

Theoretically you could build mounts for any type of headlights you want, and use the above method to get them to open to any height you want. Considering the last time I saw a price quote for the Revision6 it was >$400US and this cost me about $40CDN (with junkyard lights), I figure its worth doing if youíre after the look. This took me about seven hours to do (including a supper break).



Sorry if this write up isnít up to snuff, itís my first one.


06-06-2007, 07:37 AM

The pictures don't quite do it justice. How do they work? As good or better than stock?

06-06-2007, 09:14 AM
Try taking some pictures at night with the beams pointed at a wall to show the lighting pattern. Oh, and you did a very nice job on the write-up. Thank You.


06-06-2007, 09:48 AM
question, are they adjustable or just the one setting? Sorry if you said it already, I'm kinda too tired to read it all right now. I know a guy with a probe that had it adjustable, I want to do it with my celi

06-06-2007, 03:44 PM
I'll try and get a picture with the lights pointed at the garage door later this week. If I were thinking I would have taken some "before" and "after" pics, but I wasn't thinking (besides, the project started on a sunny afternoon). It's raining pretty heavy here now so I can't say I'm terribly motivated to stand outside and take pictures. I will try maybe tomorrow night.

Adjustable or just one setting? They are adjustable. I have them setup such that they are can be aimed left/right/up/down just like a stock set. Or do you mean hi/lo beams? It does have both.

The first night they were in was Sunday. It was late and I had to be up early, so I pretty much just finished installing them and didn't bother to aim them or anything. As a result the passenger side pointed towards the sky and the drivers side didn't light up very bright (sealed beams arent very bright when they have a hole in them). I replaced the lights with Sylvania Silverstars (white light instead of yellow, non HID) and they seem brighter but I havent driven at night or aimed them properly yet (just made sure that they don't shine in the face of drivers comming the other way).

I have a set of housings for an HID conversion, but the money I would have used for the bulbs I sunk into suspension parts (should be here before the end of next week).


06-06-2007, 04:18 PM
Oh! Did you mean adjustable as in height adjustable? No they are not. They are either up or down. Height adjustable requires electronic control. There is a pretty good write up on this site for that already. Unfortunately adjusting the height like that means that the headlights would not be properly aimed unless they were put all the way up. This is that "sleepy eye" look that points at the ground.


06-06-2007, 06:09 PM
What I meant was can you raise and lower them to a height that you want

06-06-2007, 07:43 PM
Well you can set where you want them when on and when off using this method. If you want to be able to raise them to any height you want at will you will need to use an electronic pivot headlight controller. If you do a search you should find plenty of information on that method.


06-07-2007, 12:22 AM
awesome, thanks for the tip

06-07-2007, 12:45 AM
Wow, i like that look alot more, nice job! But i would like to see how they look at night.

06-07-2007, 01:09 AM
I'll get some shots on the weekend

06-07-2007, 06:42 PM
On the rare occasions I do the sleepy-eye effect, I just use the standard headlight switch - turn on and off at the right time and a couple times and lights can be gotten down to varying levels as desired, and pretty consistently, if ya practice....it's all in the timing (although likely causing wear and tear on the switch and light motors...oh, well...) - can even get them completely closed and able to have lights turned on, so you only really see the fogs - am thinking of re-wiring the fogs to be able to use them alone.