Thursday 15 September 2016

R33 Projector Lights

Roundup Lights.

Been blogging less and driving a lot more, this kept me away from the keyboard but not out of the garage! Time for a catch up; let’s do the painful stuff first.

Lighting the way. 

Anyone with a GTST spec 2 will know that the standard lights are not exactly the best, using reflector lenses and tiny little H1 bulbs, the driving experience at night can be called “romantic by candlelight”. Of course this isn’t the end of the world and you do get used to it. However there are areas that can be improved upon here and I like to think that seeing where you are going is always going to be a good thing. Many drivers choose to go down the HID (High Intensity Discharge) route. Choosing 6000k bulbs (most kits come like that now), the effect is great but does have the drawback of blinding other road users due to the reflectors. Unlike the later model, Spec one GTST’s also can be pretty dazzling, but on a lesser more acceptable scale, due to the different housings. Personally I am of the school that blinding other drivers is a bad thing, of course one other major drawback to not having a ‘cut off’ on the beam is that it is illegal and a MOT fail (MOT is the Ministry of Transport road worthiness test here in the UK).
So I could go back to standard or do something else… Well where is the fun in being standard? So it had to be something else didn’t it!

So I spoke to a business called Headlight Retro Fits, agreed a price and sent them a pristine set of Spec 2 headlights. The idea was to have projectors fitted, these units bolt in place into the existing reflectors, the units have actuators inside them which allow them to dip, cutting off the beam. The upside being that you have good light and do not blind the other oncoming traffic. Typically the conversion did not go well and although this is long after the event, I unfortunately had to strip the lights down and rebuild them. One unit was particularly faulty, the case had been warped so didn’t fit the car well, one bulb was constantly playing up and there was dust in the case. On stripping the case it became evident that they had blundered on this one already as when compared to the driver’s side, the sealant was practically non-existent when removing the lens. On taking the projector out I could see that unlike the other units they had drilled the hole for the wiring in a bad position, so the wires were pinched, a continuity test showed that there was a bad wire and all became clear. The experience was not great if I am honest, the plastic case came back with the top clip broken that they had tried (badly) to repair and I suspect that this is where most of the plastic bits came from that were inside the lens (which were attracted to the inside of the lens). So in all good heart I would NOT recommend using these guys!

So what seemed like a good idea turned into a bit of a bodge, 10 out of 10 for the idea but 0 out of 10 for execution? What to do then, as I was back at square one.

Luckily as I had my old spare set I could either put these back in or do something with them. As one of my new projector cases was warped and didn’t fit correctly, I decided to strip old and new down and rebuild from scratch. As it turns out this risky strategy seems to have paid off!

Removing lenses: 

I have heard various about the best way to get a lens off, mostly about sticking them into an oven and prising the lens with a screwdriver. I didn’t much fancy this as it chews up the casing. I simply used a heat gun, starting on the bottom (not seen side) of the lights the lens put up a fight, but it wasn’t too bad. The lenses are glued in place with a black mastic that becomes malleable when hot, the worst part of the whole process was cleaning out the gunk afterwards. This was a laborious task of heating it up a bit and using a small screwdriver to scrape it out.

Just an example of the gunk removal

Fitting the projectors: 

Not all that hard to do and I’m not going to go into massive detail. The basics are that you need to remove the existing bulb housing or reflector. You need to grind off some of the fittings on the back of the reflector housing, you need to drill a small hole for the wiring. The projector unit then simply bolts into place. Reattach the reflector in the light housing and you are done. Options here are to paint the reflector black (as we are no longer using reflected light).

Clamped back together

HID kit: There are quite a few of these commercially available now. Mine are branded NHK although there are plenty of others out there. What I do like about the kits is that you wire the light units directly to 12V and there is an additional control box that plumbs into the existing loom to control the dip beam function.

The camera makes them look brighter! 


As you may have gathered, the projector light units dip beam and Skylines technically have four lights (2x full and 2x dip). You could just do one light unit and have full beam on both. You could probably just fit a HID and have it on dip with full beam working normally. Or you could go mad and replace all of them.. Like me!
Admittedly I went the extra mile with LED side lights and Halo’s fitted simply wired to side lights. However the choice is all individual and up to your tastes.
Spec 1 (left) has standard lenses 

Lesson learned: 

I went with the Pro’s because well, basically I didn’t fancy doing it myself, the very fact that I ended up doing just that is a big “told ya so” to me. I guess that alarm bells should have rung much earlier in the game (they even have misspellings on their web site). However the only conversion I had seen that they had done, was on a GTR and then had only done one lens per light unit on that.


  1. Nice Karl! I myself have never had good luck with parts sourced in the UK - either they are bad quality, customer service is bad, or the measurements are off... So hats off to you for doing a great diy job!

    1. Haha Thank you. It was not a job that I wanted to do if I am honest and I am still a little annoyed. However I think I got away with it!

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