**DISCLAIMER** - I have no automotive qualifications. This blog is a record of my actions, not a list of instructions. You cut into your wiring looms and mess with safety-critical components entirely at your own risk.
As ARs, we find ourselves leading more blats than many people. As such, various members have on occasion mentioned that our rear lights (the standard Caterham caravan lights) can be difficult to see clearly in certain conditions and at some specific times of day.
Unfortunately those conditions appear to include bright and clear days, overcast days, changable days, low light, fog, rain and light mist; and the times are specifically when the sun is low in the sky, high overhead, below the horizon, or at some point in between.
In short, the standard lights are a bit crap.
Various iterations have been tried, from the standard red/orange cluster lenses with clear filament bulbs, clear lenses with amber indicators and red LED stop/tails, bigger and brighter LED stop/tails, silvered plastic reflectors within the clusters, silver reflective vinyl in the clusters, etc. - all to no particular avail.
So, the search was on for some significantly better rear lights, that either looked similar to the originals or, if different, different in a good way.
There's various rectangular LED lights, panels and clusters out there from various suppliers (carbuildersolutions, SVC, eBay etc) but I personally felt that none of the "nearly but not quite the same shape" rectangular options were quite right, somehow. Not close enough to be a direct replacement, but not different enough to look like anything more than a poor attempt at a copy. It's hard to describe but for whatever reason, none appealed.
Eventually I found some interesting looking units on www.kitcarsupplies.co.uk (formerly Seven Speed) based around a 95mm round light unit form.
**EDIT** Sadly, kit Car Supplies has since ceased trading, it appears. I can still find the light units and housing on Car Builder Solutions, and what appears to be the same reflector (albeit at a higher price) on Leisure Shop Direct. Links modified to suit:
- Triple-purpose stop/tail/indicator:
- "Shotgun" housing to fit a pair of round 95mm elements:
This form factor of 95mm light is available from various sources and in various configurations (i.e. just an indicator, just a stop/tail, a reverse/fog unit, etc) so I thought quite a while about these choices.
The above housing has no integral reflector, so the options there were to use one slot in each housing for the matching reflector, or to have a different reflector elsewhere which would free up both slots for lights (at the expense of having more holes elsewhere for reflectors which might look a bit bodged). I've always prefered indicators to be separated from tail lights in general, but pictures of the above setup looked better than I imagined twin lights with a different reflector elsewhere might, so I settled on the list above.
Total spend was to be just about £245:
- 1x LED flasher relay at £14.99 NB. See later posts for the trials of getting a working flasher unit...;
- 2x LED Bullseye Rear Light Unit - Red/Amber Lens at £69.99 each;
- 2x Shotgun Rear Light Housing - Caterham at £29.99 each;
- 2x 95mm Reflector at £9.99 each;
- Shipping at £9.99
I asked Carl Van Baars (Seven Speed / Kit Car Supplies proprietor) for his opinions on the brightness of the lights, on the EU-approved scale of "Are they on?", through "Standard Caterham" and "Visible", up to "Ow my eyes" and finally "New Audi". £245 is a lot of cash to commit to a project without some idea it'll be worthwhile, after all.
Carl was good enough to phone me back for a chat, before pointing me at a video clip online of the lights on the back of his car. To be honest I watched the clip (a donut at Mulsanne) a few times before I remembered to look for the lights disappearing into the distance, but all in all this was enough to convince me - apart from anything else, amongst the vast array of lights available, these are the lights Carl chose to fit to his own beloved Seven - and the order was placed.
Note the housing is available in two versions, with a curved back to fit a Caterham arch or a flat angled back to fit a W*******d - make sure you pick the right option!
Next, sit back and wait for them to arrive...