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Index > Body Exterior > Thread: bmw projector beam headlights setup - info
Thread: bmw projector beam headlights setup - info

Posts: 149
posted December 07, 2007 09:10 AM
Edited By: kick on 7 Dec 2007 09:12

BMW projector beam headlights setup - Info

I know it talks about this setup for a 510 only, but it should be able to be used for are needs as well.
I got this info form Michael Spreadbury, he deals with 510s.



High performance lighting for your 510

By Michael Spreadbury

Automotive lighting systems have come along way from the sealed beam Toshiba headlights that were originally installed on your Datsun 510 sedan when it was new. Unlike those dim Toshiba units, modern headlight systems offer brighter and whiter light than the conventional headlight systems of the past.

In the quest for better lighting many, if not most, 510 owners have changed their headlights to halogen equipped H-4 and H-1 lighting systems. For many, this kind of lighting system has been adequate and those who wanted more light just opted for higher wattage bulbs. These headlights are an easy retrofit as they are direct replacements for the stock sealed beam lights and offer a quick and easy upgrade.

Now many upscale auto manufacturers are offering ellipsoid projector beam headlights for their cars. Fortunately for us, BMW decided to integrate this technology into their model lines and still keep the classic "BMW face", a face that is very similar to the Datsun 510. BMW contracted Hella of Germany to design an ellipsoid projector beam headlight that matched the high performance of their automobiles.

Using their patented DE technology, Hella designed a high performance light to fit the BMW application. An ellipsoid shaped reflector gathers the light from an H-1 halogen bulb and bounces through a thick focusing lens, which in turn directs the light through the outer lens. An internal glare shield effectively contains any upward light rays, making the DE lights easier on your fellow drivers while they deliver up to 30 percent more light than a normal H-4 lamp to the road ahead. In short, they put out more light to the road and less glare to oncoming drivers-- a win-win situation!

There are two versions of the BMW projector beam headlights, a European specification headlight and a Department of Transportation (DOT) approved version that came OEM on many late model US spec BMW's. The European headlight has several features that do not exist on the DOT model. First, the European lights have replaceable H-1 bulbs. This means that the light bulbs can be changed for different output bulbs. The other feature is the "City Lights". City lights are low wattage bulbs that are housed on the top portion of the headlights. The city lights are used at dusk when it is still too light to turn on the headlights. They are also used to mark the car when it is parked on a narrow dark road, with a flip of the switch the driver can illuminate the side of the car that is facing the road. The DOT specification lights use 55watt 9004 bulbs, which cannot be easily changed to higher outputs. The DOT spec lights also do not have the city light feature.

This article will outline the installation of the European specification projector beam headlights, but installation of the DOT specification headlights will be very similar.

Unlike a typical 5 3/4" diameter headlight, the BMW projector beam headlight is physically a larger unit. Though the overall diameter is the same as a 510 headlight, the rearward section of the headlight assembly is much deeper than a conventional headlight. The added depth of the assembly is a result of the light inside the headlight having to be focused through the ellipsoid lens. Because of this added depth, the stock 510 headlight housing and inner fender will need to be modified to clear the low beam headlight assembly.

The first piece that needs modification is the stock Datsun 510 headlight carrier. The carrier needs to have the low beam headlight buckets removed from the carrier along with the tension springs. When you have the assembly apart, mark the headlight bucket for cutting. The headlight bucket will need to have most of the backing removed to clear the added depth of the BMW headlight. By placing the headlight bucket on your bench top, carefully measure up 1" and mark the side of the bucket in several places. Carefully mark the bucket in this fashion all the way around as this will be your cut mark. Cut the material off the bucket to make a simple ring for the headlight to sit in. You will want this ring to be as close to the diameter of the headlight as possible. It should be about 4" in diameter.

Then cut the headlight carrier to allow for the added depth of the headlight. Remove all recessed material where the low beam bucket attaches without damaging the plastic insert for the headlight aiming screws. See photograph two for details.

Now that the 510-headlight carrier has been modified it is time to modify the headlight itself. Remove the headlight from its carrier until you have the bare assembly sitting on your bench top. You will need to cut off the three gray plastic mounting tabs off the side of the headlight to match the diameter of the rest of the headlight. This way the headlight will be able to slide through the modified 510-headlight bucket. The plastic tabs can be easily removed with a hacksaw. Be careful when you are cutting not to cut into the housing itself. When you have all three tabs removed your headlight should look like the illustration below.

Slide the headlight into your reassembled 510-headlight carrier and check for a good fit. If you cut your 510-headlight bucket correctly it should slide into the hole without any interference. The headlight is just a little smaller diameter than the stock 510-headlight bucket so use a little butele tape to fill the gap and hold the headlight securely. Then attach the stock 510-headlight ring to secure the headlight.

Now that the BMW light is attached to your 510-headlight carrier, slide it into the core support and mark where the body of the headlight interferes with the 510 inner fenders. Mark that area with a pencil and clearance the area.

My headlights were installed during the double a-arm project and Steve Epperly was a major help with the body modifications. Since my engine compartment needed to be repainted anyway, Steve used a five-pound hammer and a dolly on the outside of the inner fender to provide the necessary clearance for the deeper headlights. After massaging the 510 inner fenders to clear the rear of the lights, install the projector beam assembly into the core support and check the fit.

Since the lights use dual H-1 bulbs, you will need to modify the 510's headlight wiring to match the two-plug H-1 bulbs. The wiring modifications are a relatively simple procedure once you understand how the 510-headlight system works. After conferring with Steve, I made the necessary modifications to the 510-headlight harness.

On the passenger side, cut and spilt the solid red wire, as the solid red wire will now need run to both headlights. The low beam headlight will have the RB/R wires going to it, and the high beam will have the RW/R wires attached to it. The driver's side splits the RB wire and runs it to both the high and low beam headlights. The low beam headlight then runs the RB/RL and the high beam headlight the RB/RW. Be sure to solder and heat-shrink all connections.

The city lights can also be spliced into the 510 front turn signals. My city lights come on when the parking lights are on and then flash when the turn signal lever is used. After the wiring is completed, check the operation of the lights in all configurations.

The headlights are available in this country from PUMA, or several other BMW OEM suppliers.

Performance Unlimited Motoring Accessories
601 N. West St. #207
Wichita, KS 67203

Phone/Fax (316) 942- 8084
Toll Free (800) 354-3552


P/N 1 DL 005 630-801 Twin H1 Euro Headlamp Kit w/DE Low Beam (white)
P/N 1 DL 005 930-801 Twin H1 Euro Headlamp Kit w/DE Low Beam (black optics)

Retail price with shipping is $395 for the white lights and $435 for the black optic style.

I would like to thank Steve Epperly, Cary McCallister, and Ron Cutting for helping me with my install or providing information for this article.

1972 Rx2 - no enigne or trans
1974 Repu - runs and drives
1976 Rx4 - no engine or trans (klaus42 old 4)
1977 Repu - Parts

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