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Installing Elite PL700 Headlights and “Euro” Headlight Rims

Written by Greg Paris.

Orginally published in Club Elite Newsletter Issue 32 (March 2012)

If you’ll remember, last time I told you I’d like to treat #1146 to some of those sexy PL700 Lucas headlights and contoured headlight rims I’d seen on Super 95/100/105s and so many “glamour” Elites.  Well, I did it this month.  It wasn’t too bad a job and the parts were still available…with some digging.  Again, I thought this would be a 30 minute job, but so far, true to form, it wasn’t. 

The cost of the modification was about $200 US, plus the PL700s, in case you were afraid I’d keep you in suspense for the entire article.  There is a fair amount of detail in this article for just installing new headlights, but there were lots of choices and some trickiness involved.  Certainly more than I thought there would be.

I first called Mike (what else).  He gave me some do’s and don’ts and I was on my way.  Mike told me how to remove the old headlight rims.  “Just push straight down while carefully using a small screwdriver to slide it forward and away from the bottom of the headlight”.  Easy for him to say.   Actually, the passenger’s side rim came away without too much fuss.  On the other hand, several tense minutes of careful prying on the driver’s side and the rim, slightly wavy now, but not broken, came off.  I’m sure if I was a body repair man, I could fix it.

 

The headlights are  held in by a chrome retaining ring, affixed by 3 small Phillips head  screws.  2 came out fine, the bottom     one (the tight quarters one) was rusted solid and stripped with almost no     pressure from me.   Fortunately, the     screw only needs to be loosened slightly, the rim rotated to the left a few     degrees, and the retaining ring comes off.      Be careful here, as the headlight will fall away as soon as the last  screw is removed, held only by the wires.      Once I disconnected and removed the headlight, it PL700-2was time to find     some parts.

First, I needed some new buckets.  The earlyUSAcars have just 2 tiny tabs, soldered on the inside of the rim which fit into a slot in the bucket.  To upgrade, I decided to replace thee bucket with the newer, spring clip bucket design.  I found the spring clip type buckets at Dave Bean inCalifornia.  I think David Mousley also has them in theUK.  And, of course, get new rear rubber dust boots.  Bean had them, as well.  I just ask for Daren Stone.  He’s an Elite owner, with #1188.

 

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No PL700 job would be complete without some PL700s, but this was the easy part for me.   David Stillwell (previous owner) had included a set of good, used ones (from a Jaguar, as I recall).  Lucas says these headlamps come in Right-Hand Drive and Left-Hand Drive versions.  Here’s the tricky part.  If you live in theUSA, where we drive on the right side, but our steering wheels are on the left side of the car (if that makes any sense) you’ll need Left-Hand Drive lamps, even if your Elite is Right-Hand Drive.  If your PL700s have Lucas early bulbs in them, the bulbs actually say Left or Right-Hand Drive!  Replacement bulbs are usually ambidextrous, so use those.  Now that I’ve totally confused you, let’s move on.PL700-4

To complete the look, you’ll need those hot, body contoured headlight rims.  This time, it was FASPEC who had them.  Seems they had 2 NOS Lucas ones from a Midget 1500.  You can see the part number.  Remember, if you can’t read the number just maximize or zoom your PDF.  On the right, you can see the notch cut out of the back side of the rim.  The clip on the bucket slides over this.  They also have a dimple at the top.PL700-5

Install the buckets.  Fit the dust boot over the bucket, lining up the two protruding adjustment screw covers.  Push the boot on all the way.  The inner portion of the boot will stretch around the bucket bulge.  Keep pushing until it the boot is seated against the back of the bucket plate. The buckets go in with 3 screws.   Use washers, to save the body!  If you are installing the buckets forUSAdriving, make sure that the adjusting screws are at 9 o’clock and 12 o’clock when viewed from the front of the car.  This will allow you to adjust the headlights down and away from oncoming traffic.  This also means that the retaining clip will be at 6 o’clock.PL700-6

Here’s a comparison of the largeUSAtype on the left, which has almost no contour to it and the European tapered rim on the right.  There is a subtle, but definitely noticeable difference between the two looks.  As far as I’m concerned, I’ll go for the new look.  Very chic…PL700-7

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P.S.  USA Rim on left is about 1 ½ inches tall, while Euro Rim on right is less than 1 inch tall and nicely tapered to follow

Copyright © 2011  Greg Paris  All rights reserved.