Performance & Hotrod Business - December '14

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58 n Performance & Hotrod Business n December 2014 HOTROD "It's Marina Blue with white Rallye stripes, and otherwise appearing pretty doggone stock," See says. "The customer does plan to put Cragars on it and some engine dress-up items. Hey, if I had been a high-school kid in the '70s, what would I have done with this car?" The halo lights are controlled via a handheld remote. "You can program them to change from red to green to blue, or you can program them to automatically change every few seconds, if you are sitting at a show and want to catch people's eyes." Delta Tech offers both HID and LED headlamps with halo accents. "They are a daytime running light that turns on automatically with your ignition," says Durian, "but then you can leave them on at a show, because they don't draw much current." Interior & Accent Lighting "Ninety-nine percent of our business is restoration," See reports, "whether it's a muscle car or a classic Hudson or Packard. But a small number of clients who drive their cars want better lighting. So we have installed LED headlights on a few cars." "When you open the doors of an old two- door car, especially, you take up the whole lane. When you open the doors of our Camaro show car, LED lights automati- cally light up at edge of the door. And then soft blue LEDs in the door jamb illuminate your path to get into the vehicle." Under-hood and trunk lights are also popular. "And with LEDs, you can work on the car all night and not kill the battery." Installation & Wiring Replacing a stock incandescent light with an LED lamp is pretty straightforward—usually. "In many cases," notes Mike Nixon, Mo' Muscle Cars' mechanical manager, "LED lamps can be installed into original light sockets. Complete taillight assem- blies are offered for many of the popu- lar muscle cars and '50s classics. And as newer technology has been developed, the components needed to power the lights have gotten smaller, making installing the systems simpler." Factory wiring in most cases is not an issue, either. "However, when LED lamps are installed in a turn signal circuit, a 'dummy' load or a special flasher relay must be installed to add the necessary amperage to function correctly." Other issues can complicate installation as well. "Since LED technology is still find- ing its place in the restoration market," says Lippke, "we find a lot of our time is spent making modifications to both the new parts and the original parts to create a seamless fit." The headlights on the Bennett Mustang, for example, rely on a finned heat dissipator that doesn't fit through the original bucket, "so we had to clearance it out. And we had to make some modifica- tions to the backup light housings" to pro- vide clearance for the wiring. "The lamps are supposed to be plug-and-play, but they can't make them universal to every car." And even when retaining a stock appearance, Lippke recommends replac- ing original turn signal and taillight lenses that may have "fogged" over the years with Comparison of a standard Halogen headlight (left) to a Philips CrystalVision ultra headlight bulb (right). (Photo courtesy Philips Automotive North America) See has also found it to be "real pop- ular to enhance the interior lighting, to mimic the mood lighting that you see in a Mercedes, Lincoln or Cadillac these days with ambient LED lighting hidden behind a strip of wood, or underneath the door handles, or along the bottom of the dash." And if the owners show the car where it's judged for authenticity, "they don't turn those lights on, and no one can see them." According to See, it's all part of a famil- iar trend. "A majority of our customers are retirement age or getting close to it. They've saved their pennies, and now they want the car they had in high school, or the car they wished they had in high school. But they also want that car to match the convenience of the Lexus sitting next to it in their garage. When they go out in the Lexus, it sure is convenient to have that ambient interior lighting, or a map light, and all the other things we take for granted in a modern car." Allen adds that an ISIS Intelligent Multiplex System allows builders to offer "dimmable interior lights and time- delayed headlights and taillights—just like you would find in mid-level and luxury vehicles today." "The most interesting lighting product right now is the projector puddle lamps that mount at the bottom of a car door," notes Garrett Lusk, service & parts man- ager for Mo' Muscle Cars. "They are sim- ple to install, and you can get just about any custom design made for them. For some they can be a little over the top, but when they are done right, they really can add a cool custom touch to your ride." Durian suggests a wide range of appli- cations, beginning with safety door lights. Comparison of a vehicle with standard Halogen (left) to a vehicle with Philips X-tremeVison head- light (right). (Photo cour- tesy Philips Automotive North America)

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