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MG MGA - Video Comparison- L.E.D. tail lamps II

By request (MGB side), we placed a video on youtube for the standard bulbs vs. the L.E.D. setup in two comparable MGBs. Day and night. No doubt these are brighter and they light up both sections very well. I noticed when we only had one section plugged in that it was already brighter than standard Tungsten bulbs.

This is a very thorough test. Please tell me what you think.

BTW: I mention this on the MGA board because there are specific sets manufactured for the MGA assembly as well. Bright assists with safety in our hobby and I have had bad (Melting!) experience with standard bulbs in the MGA type taillamps, much more so with the Halogen type tail lamp bulbs. The L.E.D.s do not produce heat and are brighter.

BMC Brian McCullough

I am very interested in these. I switched from incandescent to LED lighting at home several years ago, and now have an annual electricity bill of less than $200 - and I cook with electric and have a large stereo which runs almost constantly.

LEDs have made big progress in the last few years, on brightness in particular. Many new cars here have LED side lighting and brake lighting, and they are very bright indeed. There's no reason that this would not be a good idea on the MGA.

Over the years I have had a number of incidents where other drivers have not been paying enough attention to notice that I am indicating a lane change or a turn. Maybe it's just common sense to update the lighting to take account of the expectations / demands of other road users, even if they are usually dumb / texting / on the phone / totally engrossed in conversation with a passenger / just such bad drivers that they should be taken off the road anyway.

dominic clancy

Most interesting video. Stunning difference. I have not taken much notice of threads on this topic before, so I am going to ask a question that has probably een discussed many times. Are there LED lights available that simply fit ino the existing bulb holders? Or is it a major conversion job?

Steve Gyles

Why would you compare two cars with different configurations. Sure it is brighter, but you do have the entire lens illuminated. I have a concern that you could not see the turning signal. Was this just the quality of the camera or do the brake lights wash out the signal lights in real life. Yes it is an improvement.
How much are your MGB and MGA (1500 & 1600)setups.
DJ Lake


We switched to Halogens throughout our shop and home a number of years ago and I know L.E.D.s would cost even less (power-wise) but have yet to find a good home source. Frankly, I know the costs on home LEDs are going to be high but the savings are long term.


A few answers for you. First, there are Direct 1157 replacements. They are no good. If you put 12 volts to one and look at them directly on, they are bright BUT you then hold a standard bulb up and look at them from any angle and you'll find the direct replacement LED setup is very dim compared to the stock bulbs. You then take the direct replacement LEDs and place them in your tail light housing and you'll see they are dim from behind and almost Nonexistent from the sides- NOT good. I have tried them and studied them for a while.

Second, The units shown are direct replacements and everything you do to install them is reversible. I removed all the bits and replaced everything with my hands. I used a screw driver to remove the screw on the tail-lamp cover and thats it.


The LEDs are set up to illuminate both. The old type tail lamps are not. The two different configurations are how they are built, we were not trying to give an unfair video advantage, but when they are manufactured, they were manufactured intentionally with an unfair advantage that allows these to be comparable with modern cars. I would even go so far as to say brighter than quite a number of modern cars and with as low as the tail lamps are on the majority of our British car (compared to Chevrolets, Fords, and Hondas) they need to be brighter to be noticed.

Brightness noted: When I was replacing the lights on the white car, I plugged only the top half LED on one side and noted that it was already brighter than the standard system. With the upper half AND lower half it was even brighter. I do not have this on camera.

I make mention on the video that the camera is a fairly inexpensive unit. A $300 video camera does not give the quality of the $10,000 video cameras and distorts the difference between very bright and black bad. If you watch the last 30 seconds of the video with the closeup, you can see the lights oscillating. The camera used had a difficult time picking up the difference between red and amber but if you were to look at this with your own eyes, you would see it easily.

The LED system is a circuit board manufactured with voltage protection, polarity protection and other items that are discussed in further detail where they are sold:

or more directly with a much longer URL here:

The price on the LED systems:

MGA Type tail lamps:
$148.00 USD

MGB/ midget type tail lamps:
$223.00 USD

They are not inexpensive but they don't melt tail light lenses, texting teenagers behind you are more likely to catch some light in the corner of their eye and the potential for rear end damage should be reduced. I wish I had these in my Bugeye 15 years ago. My car would Absolutely be in better shape right now.

BMC Brian McCullough

What I'd like to know is whether they exhibit the annoying flicker that so many (especially first generation) LED tail lights do. Driving down a freeway at night, scanning the scene with your eyes, you're frequently treated to annoying trails of dots of light from the LED tail lights of the cars in front of you. One of the worst offenders seems to be the Cadillac Escalade, which is annoying even when parked. :-)
David Breneman

David, I am not familiar with that effect. Maybe its an earlier LED with a much narrower sight width and your just on the edge of its view? Maybe its the reflective surfaces they set up in certain tail-lamps? I have not noticed issue with this.

BMC Brian McCullough

Brian, it has to do with the frequency of the AC current that drives the LEDs. Just like early LED Christmas lights, which cycle(d) at the frequency of household current, and flicker(ed) annoyingly, so do these older LED car lights. Many newer cars seem to drive the LEDs at a much higher frequency, greatly reducing the effect.
David Breneman

Now I understand. I am familiar with the older LEDs and had not considered this. In the past few years, the technology has again changed so much and the markets have finally caught on, thus the new tech for old tech guys like you and me. Well maybe just me! :-)

BMC Brian McCullough

Brian, that looks like a great project you have there!

I am not sure why you have added more red light behind the flasher and reflector. It looks like it really does not need that. Is there not normally an aluminium plate behind there? It is difficult to tell from the video, but is there also a risk of going too bright, which might lead to being frequently stopped by the boys in blue?

I think many of us would like to see the MGA lamps. Did you do the 1500 and the 1600? (too much to ask for MkII I suppose - although if you did do a MkII lamp you would have the Mk1 Mini market to attack!)

Keep up the good work,

Neil McGurk

Hi guys. I may have missed this point in all the foregoing thread, but how does Brian's LED rear lights system maintain the same turn indicator rate of flashing? Is the same flasher module retained and an equivalent parallel loading resistor connected to keep the original speed, or is there some additional electronic circuitry in the lamp unit to replace the flasher module?
Also, is the system being sold as a complete and directly replaceable unit behind the lamp glass?
Bruce Mayo


The 1500 and 1600 used the same tail lamps but used different plinths therefore the same light. I don't think you will have an issue with too bright for the MGA due to the height at which these sit. They need to be bright.
Nothing for the MKII MGA yet.


two easy ways:

1) change out to a electronic flasher which does not change its flash rate according to the load- a semi (lorry) can use one for many or the display model can use it for one LED board with almost no load and last years to come.

2) put some resistance back in line so the old turn signal flasher has enough load to heat up and function properly.

The first is cheap and easy but the second can be done if you must leave the original turn flasher in place on a classic. There are ways to hide the modern components.

BMC Brian McCullough

This thread was discussed between 30/08/2009 and 03/09/2009

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