NOTE: Please don't try this if you're not comfortable working with wiring. Electrical fires are not fun. This is an old page I put up years ago and I would probably do things differently now.
Barn doors. Air brakes. Pizza boxes.
These are some of the names for the stock Miata pop-up headlights. Some folks love them, others will spend large sums of money to replace them with lower profile pop-ups that sacrifice performance for looks. Wouldn't it be nice to have the best of both worlds? A set of lights so low profile that they are invisible until turned on and don't need to pop up at all, as well as a set of lights capable of hurling photons down a dark road with abandon? Read on.
This modification puts a set of standard low-beam bulbs in the place currently occupied by the turn indicators. They're activated as part of the parking lights - ie, by the first setting on the standard light switch. The turn indicator bulbs are moved to a section of the front lens that is unused on North American cars. It's used for parking lights on the European lights.
Inside the car, everything is 100% stock. There's no new switch required, as the normal headlight switch turns on the new bulbs. UPDATE: To be kind to other drivers, I have installed a switch that allows me to turn off these extra lights and run without them.
Some common concerns are related to the heat output of the new bulbs. The reflectors have a metal insert inside that serves to shield the plastic from the worst heat. I've experienced no problems so far, and am monitoring the situation. There's a lot of empty space around the new bulb, so I forsee no difficulties. UPDATE: the only heat problems I've experienced have been with the turn indicator bulbs. Since I have Canadian DRLs, they're running all the time. In serious heat (ie, over 30C) this has caused some melting of the housings.
The new low beams aren't a substitute for a good set of regular lights. They do, however, provide sufficient light for driving around the city where there already is ambient light. They'll look as bright as normal headlights to other traffic, making you visible to others. Basically, you'll have eliminated the need for pop-up lights in the city. Once you're on the back roads, you can raise the big lights. This is great if you have high power bulbs in your pop-ups.
Keep in mind that while this may fulfill the intent of the law, your local police officer may not be impressed. I've had no problems, but proceed at your own risk.
Enough! Let's do it!
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Meet Baby, the project car