Upgrading The Lights On Our 1969 MGB Roadster

Upgraded lights on the 1969 MG MGB Roadster For Hire from The Open Road
Upgraded lights on the 1969 MG MGB Roadster For Hire from The Open Road
The lights on all new cars are so much better than on classic cars and tend to outshine everything else. Because of this The Open Road is working through our fleet of classic cars this winter 2014 and upgrading the lights on all of them, starting with our MGB Roadster.




Many of our classics left the factory with sealed beam headlamps which were standard in the 1960s and early 1970s and we have always upgraded these. Fortunately they are all standard 7” diameter headlamps and upgrading them is simple as Moss Europe sell an upgrade kit providing a set of headlamps with H4 Halogen bulbs.


These were always much brighter than the old sealed beam units, but now with new cars having daylight running lights (DRL) and xenon headlights they are not very bright in comparison. Fortunately Halfords now sell Ultra Brilliance H4 headlamp bulbs that are up to 120% brighter than normal H4 halogen bulbs but still consume the same amount of power. I have replaced the standard H4 bulbs with these.  


Sidelights, brake lights and indicators:


Upgraded rear sidelamp and indicator on our 1969 MGB RoadsterThe problem with standard filament bulbs in the sidelights, brake lights and indicators is that they lose their original brightness fairly quickly. The inside of the bulb blackens – presumably the filament vaporises and gets deposited on the glass and even before they fail they can lose up to 50% of their brightness. I have always checked the lights each winter, cleaning the lenses and replacing any blackened bulbs. The advent of LED bulbs should remove this problem as well as providing a brighter light in the first place so I have changed all the main bulbs for LED ones.  


These provide a whiter light than ordinary bulbs so the front sidelights look white not slightly yellow and the rear lights are a lighter, brighter red and indicators a slighter lighter as well as brighter orange.  


A couple of words of caution about fitting LEDs bulbs to your car:  

  1. LEDs draw much less current than ordinary bulbs and don’t draw enough for an old fashioned metal canister type of flasher unit to work. This needs to be replaced with a modern electronic one – available from Moss - which works much more consistently than the old one and has a louder tick, which is useful in a noisy classic car.  
  2. LED bulbs come in all sorts of sizes and shapes. Some of the 5W bulbs which I bought for the side lamps and number plates were too long. Make sure you pick the right size bulb and don’t just go by the wattage equivalent.  
  3. Some of the LEDs only look bright from straight on and not so bright from an angle so double check once installed.  




In summary the upgrades are well worthwhile. The brighter side lamps, brake lights and indicators make the MGB much more visible from the rear in the dark and rain, and the Ultra Brilliance H4 bulbs really light up our dark country lanes.


A final word for anyone else thinking of upgrading your MGB lights. Some of the descriptions of DRLs and LEDs in general wax lyrical about using less electricity and therefore saving fuel and CO2 emissions as they aren’t drawing much power from the alternator. The main current draw is the headlamps, not the side lamps and your classic will mainly be driven in daylight, so while they do draw less current I doubt if they will save even as much as 1% of your fuel. Upgrade them because you want better lighting not better fuel consumption.

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