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MG MGB Technical - Brighter Headlights

Bob's post on the Sylvania tail light bulbs prompted me to re-post a question I had a while back.

I am currently using the Sylvania 'white' sealed beams for headlights.

Has anyone tried the new "Euro" style headlights that reportedly have 'state of the art' design in both the reflector and lens?

I have been frustrated for a while that the Trailblazer my wife drives has significantly better headlights than my MG. While the Sylvania sealed beams greatly improved the situation, there still seems to be some shortcomings with the traditional lens and reflector design.
Richard Smith

Yep, I put them in my 76B along with a headlamp relay from JC Whitney and WOW! We went out for about an hour the other night and my 2 cents is nothing but WOW!
Rick Roberts 76 MGB

Which did you install, Rick? The Sylvanias or the Euro style? Relays certainly do some nice things for lighting, that's for sure.

I have been using the Sylvania XtraVision lamps for several years and thought they were a decent upgrade from the OE tungsten lamps, but I do wonder what the pattern and brightness are really like of the new Sylvania Silver Star halogen lamps?? Some photos on the Sylvania website seem to look pretty good, but photo perception and eye perception sometimes seem to vary considerably.
Bob Muenchausen

Let me go home and check...they are on the cover, I believe, the the current Vicki Brit...
Rick Roberts 76 MGB

Bob - I installed a set of the new Sylvania Silver Star halogen light in our MGB. First, I compared the current draw to the original Sylvania halogens that were in the car and found that the current draw was the same for both bulbs. I was somewhat disappointed with the light pattern from the lights on low beam, but when I hit the high beams, the difference was considerable. Whether or not there is sufficient difference to justify the increased cost, since most of our night driving is with the low beams remains to be seen. Cheers - Dave
David DuBois

Found them in order tracking. They were EURO 7" ROUND HALOGEN HEADLAMP. What a lamp!
Rick Roberts 76 MGB

The Wipac H4 halogens that Moss sells are very good. I'd shy away from sealed beam halogens. The lens and reflector are disposable. I've yet to see one that is anything more than a more-glare-inducing copy of a tungsten lamp.
David Breneman

I've had Wipac's in the past, but changing to Cibie's made me realise how poor they were.

M Barnfather

I have Hella lamps in my A and the difference is amazing. The cutoff on low beam is excellent and the high beam performance even better. And yet I have read many places that the Cibie is even better.

Anyone have a direct comparison between the new sealed beams and the Hella and Cibie? I know that they should all outperform the old sealed beam units.

Larry Hallanger

I run the regular $10 Sylvania halogens and they are plenty bright enough for me.
Steve Simmons

I run Hella E code lights w/50/60 bulbs and the difference is amazing as compared to DOT headlights. It's not the power but the design of the lense that makes the difference by putting the light where you need it.
Mike MaGee

I have had Cibie "Z" beam conversion lamps in the MGB for many years and have run both the standard 55/60w & rally 60/100w H4 halogen bulbs, but last year I put in a set of the Silverstar halogen bulbs.
The difference is quite noticable, even on low beam.

I was so pleased that I even changed over my Hella fog light bulbs to the 55w H3 "Silverstars".
The bulbs are pricy, but not compared to the damage caused if you hit something at night because of poor lighting.

I actually run the fog lights all the time as daytime running lights since I have them tied into the park/running light circuit.

I also have my high beam circuit (& fogs too) on relays with separate fuses because the regular switch was never really designed to handle the current draw.
Dave Pearn

Thanks to everyone!

For Rick,

One of the things I am looking for in addition to high beam performance is a bit of fill on the road just in front of the car when on high beam. The low beams fill this area pretty good. Do the Viki Brit lights accomplish this?

The Sylvanias are pretty good on high beam (nowhere near my wife's trailblazer, though) but when you go to high beam, the part in front of the car literally disappears (aimed too high?). I just went to the Sylvania website and I see that everyone of the beams has dim area in fron of the car but the SilverStar model seems to mitigate it pretty good. After looking at the photos, I think I have the cool blues but right in front of the car looks more like the photo for standard halogens.

Regarding the Hellas and Cibies, do they provide a good fill in front of the car on high beam?

What I really want is a headlight that approaches the performance of the headlights in the new cars - the ones with good reflectors and virtually clear lenses.
From what I can see from the Vick-Brit photo, the EUROS look like they are designed like this. Rick, can you confirm?
Richard Smith


Do you happen to know the wattage of the bulbs?
Richard Smith

Yes sir. I aligned them on my garage door as spelled out in the archives. Low beam is great but I was especially amazed at the high beam. I got the white, not the blue.
Get you a relay though, don't run them directly through your switch. I used:

A little pricey but very effective....
Rick Roberts 76 MGB

Whoops, sorry...they are 12V 60/55 Watt. They are halogen and should one go out all you do is teplace the bulb for $5.95 Vs. the whole deal...
Rick Roberts 76 MGB

Hella for sure. Pure white bright light. Definition is almost as good as my Audi HID xenons.
Gary Kinslow '69B roadster Pale Primrose

Thanks again all.

Thanks to Rick for providing the wattage.

Thanks to Gary on the Hella information.

Now to figure out which one...
Richard Smith

Just a standard 30amp relay will work fine and will save you a bundle, sorry Rick not a big JC Whitney fan, high prices and even higher shipping. I've got a link to a general wiring for high/low using the 4 pronged relay.

"parts America" is the same as Advance auto..the 30 amp relays are at any auto parts store or Radio Shack...CHEERS!
J.T. White


Thanks for the schematic.
Richard Smith

I have discussed the benefits of using various headlamps with some other folks who have done fairly scientific investigations of their own and it seems to me that there is a possibility that there is no one headlamp that meets everyone's needs or desires. Much of what determines a "good Headlamp" from an also-ran, seems to be the expectations that we bring to the experience. Also, I am becoming convinced that another major factor is our own ability to perceive the light and then interpret it in our own minds. I say this latter because I have noticed that color perception (or the lack thereof ~ as with color blindness/deficiency) will skew a person's perception of both the brightness and the color of the light output. We assume that we all see the same things when we use our eyes to establish "what's out there", but I can assure you, that as a paint salesperson, we don't. And when you introduce how "able" our individual eyes are to see things in the dark, you then add yet another factor into the equation to determine what performs well and what doesn't. It should surprise no one that opinions vary so much.
Bob Muenchausen

One further comment.

I tend to prefer results as shown in photos as we know what the sensitivities throughout the spectrum for color and for brightness and by establishing a repeatable process for taking the photos, you at least get a reasonably impartial notion of how these light compare. However, we still only get to see these as the camera/film allows and we are still looking at them with the same equipment and values as we would have used had we seen these lighting patterns and brightness without using the camera. What is seen should be easier to evaluate, but probably no less open to opinion. FWIW
Bob Muenchausen


You make very ggod points about lighting and colors. Witness a conversation between my wife and I on paint colors. I see slightly different color componenets in paint than she does. I have no clue who is correct...

I agree photos are a good way to get a baseline. That being said, to make the baseline correct, you should probably use a good 35MM film camera set to manual operation on a tripod. Make sure to use exactly the same exposure settings for comparisons and the same roll of film. Don't know how many digital cameras offer a true manual mode with manual exposure control but this will be needed to make the comparison truly valid.
Richard Smith

Bob (and Richard)

Not often i disagree with you, but here is THE headlight to have...! I have it fitted to my car, following a recommendation and subsequently i have recommended it. Those people have recommended etc etc - never had anyone say they didn't believe it was one of the finest combos of headlight bulb ever known to man! ;-> (Infact actually i think Mike Barnfather and i run the same combo)

Click on this link and scroll down to the headlight section, various combinations there, but you should see LHD clearly marked for your side of the pond. Not sure on difference between flat and curved lens but i have the curved and have no problems with it.

For bulbs scroll further down and click the link to halogen bulbs click the powerwhite 100/80 watt bulbs (i known these may be overpowered for some countries etc but trust me no finer bulb exists! - worth the punt potentially against the law IMO - although its ok for a 1972 car in the UK)

The usual note about fitting relays is a must before fitting these lights, but seriously they are amazing. There are no dull or dark patches like i used to have with the "wipac" H4 halogen upgrade light units - just clear, crisp light on dip and a main beam that goes for miles. I have even been able to use these lights on main beam in dense fog as the scatter/cut-off of the beam is so crisp it can cut through the daze.

I would strongly recommend them to anyone. The only lights i have used better then these on any car newer or older than mine, were the gas discharge "fish eye" bulbs on a honda...



I agree with Phil, I've always changed headlamps to Cibie's since the days of my MK1 Golf GTi, when I first discovered how good they were.

Relays are essential, even if you run standard bulbs.

M Barnfather

I had bought a set of very cheap conversion lamps made in India form my MGA, they were actually worse than the standard sealed beam.

I bought a set of Hella conversion lamps for use in my MGB from Summit Racing, (which is local to me.) The Cibies may be better, I don't know, but at $39.95 each, including bulbs, I don't see a reason to change. White light, standard wattage so that a relay conversion isn't required, (not bad idea though), with a very sharp cut off line that has a rise on the right to illuminate the side of the roadway. (Sounds at least similar to Cibies) Here's a link for you.

Dave D
DLD Densmore


The point about relays is that the light switch isn't really man enough for the job, voltage loss, and risk of burning out are the issues.

M Barnfather

Dave D,

Thanks for the link, I have been driving around with the brights on just to be able to see the road! I ordered the Hella HLA-70477's recommended by you in your post just now. Looking forward to getting them in and being able to see better at night :-)



The best price I've seen on the Hella 5-3/4" headlights is at I don't know what their price is on 7" but it might be worth checking out.

I've got"Cat's eyes" Cibes I think courtesy of a prior owner. Of course my original light switch had a meltdown. So then I fixed it with a bunch or relays, some extra battery cable and off road only use H4 replacements.

The single biggest improvement in lighting was wiring relays and using a grounding terminal in the engine bay hardwired back to the battery. Of course, being a cheapskate, I got a tray at a junkyard and then used 4 relays: 2 for low beams and two for high. Why so many? There have been debates ad nauseum that they shouldn't be fused or relayed because what if the fuse blows or the relay quits? Well with four relays, what are the odds I loose all four at the same time? Granted It is total overkill, but I paid $5 for the electric tray from the pick-a-part so I figured why not? Eventually I'll cut my relay habit down and maybe only run 2.


Brian C.
Brian Corrigan

my problem with the great hi beam is that it is forward (only). On the freeway or ordinary road they are great. Climbing a winding narrow mountain road at speed I've realized that peripheral vision is compromised. I bought a pair of cheap "driving lights" with a turn signal light built in, to replace my parking lights and turn signal light. With the "driving light" angled outward I expect to get better peripheral vision at 30 mph at speed.

You guys speeding through the hedgerows know what I'm talking about.

Barry Parkinson

This thread was discussed between 03/06/2005 and 24/06/2005

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