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Author Topic: Early timers... how did the European taillight lens thing start?  (Read 5839 times)
Jim Ratto
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« on: May 18, 2013, 00:55:23 am »

I've always wondered. Who started the trend of amber-topped taillight lenses and where did you get them from originally? VWoA? Who was the first to sport them?
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johnl
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« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2013, 02:17:26 am »

I think by 1964 I had purchased a set from the Custom House, then located in Whittier.  As I recall they were Hella brand and it set the car off as no one else had them.  As time moved forward they became more common.

In 1981 when I purchase our black '63 sedan and went through it I found a pair from a German couple that had a shop on 17th St. in Santa Ana close to Lincoln by the railroad tracks.  Later I think they moved further west on 17th west of Harbor Blvd.  I don't know what ever happened to them and can't remember their names but they had some really neat stuff.

There was also a shop on the southwest corner of Main St. and Chapman Ave. in Orange.  This was owned and operated by a lady and I remember purchasing many parts from her including all of the side trim on the car to this day.  She sold me a couple of pairs of the Hella amber tail light lenses.

I've never installed them and still have them in the wrapping paper I purchased them in some 32 years ago.  Over the years I've thought about installing them but I like the original look of the car the way it was delivered thus I've kept the red lenses in the back and the clear turn signals up front.
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
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Dyno-Don
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« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2013, 23:30:18 pm »

John, I think the shop you are talking about in Orange was Autopia. It was just south of Chapman on Main by a half block, on the east side of the street. A friend of mine named Peter bought the business in the 80's and said it was a woman who owned and ran it. He managed to do a fine job of running it out of business.  Grin


the Euro Taillights had become pretty de rigueur for a Cal Look car by the mid 70's and I seem to remember that we were selling them at Auto Haus by then. The first set my buddy (and later partner in my '66) got were purchased at Chick Iverson, I think that would have been in 73 or 74.
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johnl
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« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2013, 01:20:24 am »

John, I think the shop you are talking about in Orange was Autopia. It was just south of Chapman on Main by a half block, on the east side of the street. A friend of mine named Peter bought the business in the 80's and said it was a woman who owned and ran it. He managed to do a fine job of running it out of business.  Grin


the Euro Taillights had become pretty de rigueur for a Cal Look car by the mid 70's and I seem to remember that we were selling them at Auto Haus by then. The first set my buddy (and later partner in my '66) got were purchased at Chick Iverson, I think that would have been in 73 or 74.

Sorry Don, you missed on this one.  In 1981 I left Auto Haus to venture on my own.  Mark Milbreth, also a longtime Auto Haus employee and myself created and opened Autopia Motoring Accessories on Main St. in Orange between Chapman Ave. and St. Joseph's Hospital. 

After a period I sold my interest to Mark and moved on to other ventures.  He continued to run it for a period and then sold it off to someone.

I'm thinking the "woman" you are speaking of was the business on Chapman at Main Street.  That was kind of a dumpy warehouse building at the time and long ago was torn down and replaced with what else but a Strip Mall.

You mentioned getting the lenses in 1973 or 1974, well by then I'd been using them for about ten years.
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 56 years of Volkswagens in my life 1963-2019

Life is a learning experience and then you die but when you do you've lived a good life if you contributed to your fellow man.
Dyno-Don
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« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2013, 15:22:07 pm »


Sorry Don, you missed on this one.  In 1981 I left Auto Haus to venture on my own.  Mark Milbreth, also a longtime Auto Haus employee and myself created and opened Autopia Motoring Accessories on Main St. in Orange between Chapman Ave. and St. Joseph's Hospital. 

After a period I sold my interest to Mark and moved on to other ventures.  He continued to run it for a period and then sold it off to someone.

I'm thinking the "woman" you are speaking of was the business on Chapman at Main Street.  That was kind of a dumpy warehouse building at the time and long ago was torn down and replaced with what else but a Strip Mall.

You mentioned getting the lenses in 1973 or 1974, well by then I'd been using them for about ten years.


John, now that you mentioned it I do remember him saying that Mark had been an owner of Autopia before he bought it, but he also said something about a woman owner - maybe it was the building owner, as I believe his dad bought the building as well. I think that is how I confused the two, now 25+ years later  Smiley  I didn't realize that you were a partner in Autopia.  I remember Mark quite well as he was at Auto Haus when I was. I drive by the old Autopia location every Friday night as we hit the Chili Pepper for dinner (do you remember the restaurant, it was there back then as well). Of the 4 corners at Chapman and Main, three are strip mall types and the 4th is a Chevron station.

As for the lenses, I realize they had been used by some 10 years earlier, I was just commenting on the popularity, as I saw it, by the mid 70's
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Jim Ratto
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« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2013, 16:27:59 pm »

by the time I got my '67 in the mid 80's, a guy had to run European lenses if he was going to ever be "somebody", today it's easy to find 'em anywhere, but back In The Beginning, I was curious who thunk to use 'em and what channels they came through.
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johnl
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« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2013, 17:03:01 pm »


Sorry Don, you missed on this one.  In 1981 I left Auto Haus to venture on my own.  Mark Milbreth, also a longtime Auto Haus employee and myself created and opened Autopia Motoring Accessories on Main St. in Orange between Chapman Ave. and St. Joseph's Hospital. 

After a period I sold my interest to Mark and moved on to other ventures.  He continued to run it for a period and then sold it off to someone.

I'm thinking the "woman" you are speaking of was the business on Chapman at Main Street.  That was kind of a dumpy warehouse building at the time and long ago was torn down and replaced with what else but a Strip Mall.

You mentioned getting the lenses in 1973 or 1974, well by then I'd been using them for about ten years.


John, now that you mentioned it I do remember him saying that Mark had been an owner of Autopia before he bought it, but he also said something about a woman owner - maybe it was the building owner, as I believe his dad bought the building as well. I think that is how I confused the two, now 25+ years later  Smiley  I didn't realize that you were a partner in Autopia.  I remember Mark quite well as he was at Auto Haus when I was. I drive by the old Autopia location every Friday night as we hit the Chili Pepper for dinner (do you remember the restaurant, it was there back then as well). Of the 4 corners at Chapman and Main, three are strip mall types and the 4th is a Chevron station.

As for the lenses, I realize they had been used by some 10 years earlier, I was just commenting on the popularity, as I saw it, by the mid 70's

Mark and I were partners but I was the $$ behind it.  Mark was talented in woodworking and store set ups so it worked out well.  I saw Mark last year at the Classic and he is doing well, married, retired and traveling the country with an Airstream Trailer.  He always was kind of a Nomad never wanting to sink roots anywhere.  There was never a woman associated with Autopia during it's entire existence to my knowledge.  I still say it was the woman who ran the shop on the southwest corner of Chapman & Main St.

The owner of the building then and I suspect today was a fellow who live on Riverside Dr. in Newport Beach.  Nice guy and he had LOTS of properties.

If you recall a few years ago this location was an exercise equipment retail store.  At that time it was still owned and rented by the same guy.  I know this for fact as we purchased some equipment from them.  That business is long gone and I don't know what is there today but the building still stands.  Here is a shot of the building in more recent times. 
http://www.google.com/maps?q=&layer=c&z=17&iwloc=A&sll=33.784679,-117.867273&cbp=13,33.9,0,0,0&cbll=33.784659,-117.867289&sa=X&ei=SvaYUcm1G6auiALwkYDwDQ&ved=0CC8QxB0wAA
We eat at the Chili Pepper occasionally but have other Mexican (our favorite food) places more local to home.
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 56 years of Volkswagens in my life 1963-2019

Life is a learning experience and then you die but when you do you've lived a good life if you contributed to your fellow man.
Dyno-Don
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« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2013, 17:32:04 pm »


Sorry Don, you missed on this one.  In 1981 I left Auto Haus to venture on my own.  Mark Milbreth, also a longtime Auto Haus employee and myself created and opened Autopia Motoring Accessories on Main St. in Orange between Chapman Ave. and St. Joseph's Hospital. 

After a period I sold my interest to Mark and moved on to other ventures.  He continued to run it for a period and then sold it off to someone.

I'm thinking the "woman" you are speaking of was the business on Chapman at Main Street.  That was kind of a dumpy warehouse building at the time and long ago was torn down and replaced with what else but a Strip Mall.

You mentioned getting the lenses in 1973 or 1974, well by then I'd been using them for about ten years.


John, now that you mentioned it I do remember him saying that Mark had been an owner of Autopia before he bought it, but he also said something about a woman owner - maybe it was the building owner, as I believe his dad bought the building as well. I think that is how I confused the two, now 25+ years later  Smiley  I didn't realize that you were a partner in Autopia.  I remember Mark quite well as he was at Auto Haus when I was. I drive by the old Autopia location every Friday night as we hit the Chili Pepper for dinner (do you remember the restaurant, it was there back then as well). Of the 4 corners at Chapman and Main, three are strip mall types and the 4th is a Chevron station.

As for the lenses, I realize they had been used by some 10 years earlier, I was just commenting on the popularity, as I saw it, by the mid 70's

Mark and I were partners but I was the $$ behind it.  Mark was talented in woodworking and store set ups so it worked out well.  I saw Mark last year at the Classic and he is doing well, married, retired and traveling the country with an Airstream Trailer.  He always was kind of a Nomad never wanting to sink roots anywhere.  There was never a woman associated with Autopia during it's entire existence to my knowledge.  I still say it was the woman who ran the shop on the southwest corner of Chapman & Main St.

The owner of the building then and I suspect today was a fellow who live on Riverside Dr. in Newport Beach.  Nice guy and he had LOTS of properties.

If you recall a few years ago this location was an exercise equipment retail store.  At that time it was still owned and rented by the same guy.  I know this for fact as we purchased some equipment from them.  That business is long gone and I don't know what is there today but the building still stands.  Here is a shot of the building in more recent times. 
http://www.google.com/maps?q=&layer=c&z=17&iwloc=A&sll=33.784679,-117.867273&cbp=13,33.9,0,0,0&cbll=33.784659,-117.867289&sa=X&ei=SvaYUcm1G6auiALwkYDwDQ&ved=0CC8QxB0wAA
We eat at the Chili Pepper occasionally but have other Mexican (our favorite food) places more local to home.

Well It looks like my memory mixed this one up a bit. About the only part that is on target is that Peter bought the store from Mark and did run it for a while before going out of business, he drove a 911 at the time. I'm sure Mark would remember him. HE and I met 10 years later and worked together and then he was my partner when I started Altered Engineering, my Hot Rod building business in Orange. I bought him out after a couple of years and haven't seen him much in the last 5 years.

Back to the original question, as we kind of drifted a little here, It seems that the mid sixties the Euro Taillights were becoming popular, and like I said by the 70's they were the Thing to do. I can't say where they first started coming from, but again, by the 70's you could get them at Chick Iverson VW/Porsche in Newport Beach.
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johnl
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« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2013, 17:40:38 pm »

For those of you who have an interest here is the story of how Autopia Motoring Accessories came to be.  I worked for the Rosevears longer than anyone outside the immediate family and longer than several of the family members themselves.

Through the years while Auto Haus and Race Trim names were growing I was there and would like to think along with folks like Ed Craig, Dave Greiner and a few others of the original guys we contributed to that.  From day one for me there were "issues" between Ron and Lynn.

It was ALWAYS a thing of "one upmanship" between the two.  Neither could stand it if the other got something he didn't have.  Lynn purchases a Mercedes (used) so Ron buys a new one.  Motor homes and the list of items could go on and on. 

The one thing they did buy together and share was the Airplane.  Christie & I flew with them from Fullerton Airport the very day that Lynn got certified and I think Ron had already accomplished this.  We flew to Catalina Island, landed and had lunch and then returned to Fullerton.

By 1980 the war continued and I just got tired of it.  I also thought the air cooled VW thing was changing and I didn't like what I saw in the future.  Mark Milbreth and I had become close (I was his Best Man) for wife #1.  We talked about moving on as neither of us saw a future with Auto Haus.

By then I was into my second or third BMW and was pretty well burned out on the VW scene.  DKP I had folded it's tent, I had a home to work on and life just changed.  Mark actually came up with the name and looking back I'm surprised Disney didn't come after us for the Autopia thing.

I wanted to diversify into more of the European market and Mark wanted to be a part of it.  He had zero funds to invest but we struck a deal that we both agreed was amicable.  I funded the project by leveraging my home and Mark provided his hands on skills.

Once our plan was put into motion we both walked into Lynn's office and said we need to talk to you.  His reply was "you are both leaving, aren't you".  We said yes and I'll never forget the look on his face.  I told Lynn how much I appreciated what he had done for me over the years and I'd always try to do the best for him.  Later I came to find out that he did appreciate my efforts and I suspect Mark's as well.  Lynn and I remained friends until his passing.  I may have been the last guy to speak with him and I'll never forget his final words to me when he said "John, I love you".  Looking back I think he knew it would be the final time and I replied with the same verbage.  I'm still haunted by that today.

The crew at Auto Haus had a going away party for us of which I know of no others that ever occurred in the companies history.  Needless to say it was bitter sweet and only a year or so later Auto Haus was in real trouble and soon after closed it's doors forever.

Mark and I opened the doors to Autopia and things went well but it was difficult to bring in enough $$ to support us both and pay the loan against my home.  During this time we found a young kid, Duane Demitt, who was somewhat of a talented mechanic and brought him into the back area as a repair shop. 

Mark started having marital problems and didn't show up much of the time.  It came down to the fact that I couldn't count on him and spoke with our accountant.  He suggested one buy out the other.  My intention was to buy Mark out but he came to me with a $$ figure and I met with the accountant and he advised me to take it and walk away.  I did and paid the loan off against my house and moved on.

Mark remained for a period but eventually sold out to someone and he moved on.  So there is the story of Autopia Motoring Accessories.
.
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
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Life is a learning experience and then you die but when you do you've lived a good life if you contributed to your fellow man.
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« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2013, 20:25:26 pm »

John,
Was the woman's name "Ingrid" ?
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Sarge
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« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2013, 21:56:24 pm »

My first pair came courtesy of the new '66 sedan my folks bought direct from Germany.  I liked the look
of the slotted wheels and flat hub caps, too...
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johnl
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« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2013, 22:21:22 pm »

John,
Was the woman's name "Ingrid" ?

Richard, I believe you are correct as Ingrid rings a bell.........
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
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Life is a learning experience and then you die but when you do you've lived a good life if you contributed to your fellow man.
Neil Davies
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« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2013, 22:56:41 pm »

Isn't it strange that in th UK, when I got into VWs in the mid-90's it was the done thing to run all red lenses!
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Dave Galassi
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« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2013, 22:59:30 pm »

Ingrid and Bodo, her husband, ran European Car Accessories.  A great place to visit, but if you called, all you heard ( through the thick accent) was "ALLO, YURPEEN CARSERRIES!"  Lots of interesting stuff in the cabinets.  One could spend an afternoon just looking around their small but packed shop.

Rick Meredith and I were reminiscing about them recently....................



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« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2013, 04:46:48 am »

Ingrid and Bodo are still at it selling their wares on E-bay under the username "carbuff113".
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wolfswest
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« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2016, 11:01:10 am »

Hi, to bring this old topic back on top, I was wondering...
Were the Euro tail lights illegal to run in CA?  Was it possible to receive a ticket like for example T bars, or head lights that were too low due to lowering?
« Last Edit: June 29, 2016, 16:04:06 pm by wolfswest » Logged

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Worm
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« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2016, 15:34:03 pm »

The Euro tail lights were legal.  I must have been pulled over for "head lights not illuminating correctly" 25 or more times.  Received numerous tickets for head lights being too low.  It was just a "fix-it" ticket so I had a piece of angle iron I drilled holes on each end.  Took out the shocks and bolted this in to raise the front above legal.  It was a LOT higher on one side but it was legal enough to get signed off. Pulled splines to lower it, no adjusters.

Everytime I took the car to be signed off at the Brea Police station, they would jokingly ask if I was going to leave the car this way.  I would would smile and say, "of course".  And they would laugh.  It was just a way to hassle the VW guys and an excuse to pull us over.  Many times I was pulled over and just asked what size motor I had.  Once I got a fix-it ticket for all this....  rear license plate light not working properly, head light glass tinted, head light too low, no front license plate, turn light out, horn not working properly, and speeding.  I was a regular at traffic school and court.  Most tickets in one year was 11. Then 9.

Ah....it was part of the deal.

P.S. I know I'm not nearly an early timer....
« Last Edit: June 29, 2016, 16:04:15 pm by Worm » Logged

   
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Rick Meredith
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« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2016, 16:24:35 pm »

Hi, to bring this old topic back on top, I was wondering...
Were the Euro tail lights illegal to run in CA?  Was it possible to receive a ticket like for example T bars, or head lights that were too low due to lowering?


Euro taillights were legal. At the time the law was that front turn signals had to be white or amber and rears could be amber or red.

T-Bars were a way to get around bumper laws. They were the minimum that could be considered legal.

Getting tickets were all part of the game. I had a set of stock shocks with some big override coil springs on them. I could swap them in, get my ticket signed off and drop the car back down in under a 1/2 hour.

Best ticket I got;

I was running late for work and got nailed by a radar motorcycle cop on Main St. in Santa Ana. The list of violations were;

1. 45 mph in a 35 mph zone.
2. Headlights too low
3. Part of the car below the rim. (Sway bar)
4. No wipers
5. No front license plate
6. Modified exhaust
7. No outside review mirror

The cop asked me if I was running halogen headlights to which I responded "No Officer."
They were tungsten headlights.
Just as illegal as halogens but I didn't offer up that info. Just answered his question turthfully.  Grin
« Last Edit: June 29, 2016, 16:37:17 pm by Rick Meredith » Logged

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Bill Schwimmer
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« Reply #18 on: June 29, 2016, 18:37:11 pm »

I got a ticket in Newport Beach driving my squareback for "non DOT approved headlamps". I had my Mom in the car, pretty funny looking back. VW's were easy pickin's for the Cops & they were usually driven by Hooligans.
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Rick Meredith
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« Reply #19 on: June 29, 2016, 21:45:38 pm »

Newport Beach cops were the worst for going after Cal-Looks.
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wolfswest
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« Reply #20 on: June 30, 2016, 09:55:56 am »

thx for the insight guys.  I also didn't know it was legal in CA for not having a front license plate.  mmm, maybe time for a new topic.  Wink
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Nico86
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« Reply #21 on: June 30, 2016, 20:36:36 pm »

Funny that everyone here wanted to have US-specs cars. When I got my first Beetle the first couple of years I was running US "all red" + reverse taillights lenses, and the guy at the MOT almost refused my car because of them being illegal in Europe and reverse lights not working (of course they were not since the car didn't came with it from factory, it didn't even have a reverse switch).
Got it fixed anyway when I found original Hella 68 lenses "factory cal-look" Smiley

[ Attachment: You are not allowed to view attachments ]
« Last Edit: June 30, 2016, 20:39:38 pm by Nico86 » Logged

Rick Meredith
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« Reply #22 on: June 30, 2016, 23:09:43 pm »

Funny that everyone here wanted to have US-specs cars.

And we wanted Euro spec cars.

BTW I've always been fond of those lenses. Nice choice.
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Jos
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« Reply #23 on: July 02, 2016, 00:29:29 am »

Funny that everyone here wanted to have US-specs cars. When I got my first Beetle the first couple of years I was running US "all red" + reverse taillights lenses, and the guy at the MOT almost refused my car because of them being illegal in Europe and reverse lights not working (of course they were not since the car didn't came with it from factory, it didn't even have a reverse switch).
Got it fixed anyway when I found original Hella 68 lenses "factory cal-look" Smiley


Nico, it took me a long time to find a really nice set of Hella Euro tails here in the US. Its one of those things that ONLY cal look guys understand. Nobody (in the vw scene) could understand why I was looking so hard for euro tails or why I would pay premium for tail lenses that I couldn't use my reverse lights with.

[ Attachment: You are not allowed to view attachments ]
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Nico86
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Turnip engine.


« Reply #24 on: July 02, 2016, 02:24:56 am »


Nico, it took me a long time to find a really nice set of Hella Euro tails here in the US. Its one of those things that ONLY cal look guys understand. Nobody (in the vw scene) could understand why I was looking so hard for euro tails or why I would pay premium for tail lenses that I couldn't use my reverse lights with.

[ Attachment: You are not allowed to view attachments ]


Even here I had a hard time finding these lenses in good conditions in swap-meets. I didn't want any repro crap cause most of the repro lenses look awful, and it seems Hella ony makes them new with the clear reverse part (or that's all I could find back then).

My other car came with the same "wrong" lenses, I decided to keep the reverse lights this time but the lenses were quicly replaced by this :

[ Attachment: You are not allowed to view attachments ]
« Last Edit: July 02, 2016, 02:26:41 am by Nico86 » Logged

Nico86
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« Reply #25 on: July 02, 2016, 02:32:29 am »

Funny that everyone here wanted to have US-specs cars.

And we wanted Euro spec cars.

BTW I've always been fond of those lenses. Nice choice.

We could have started a trade business between the US and Europe to swap light lenses. We missed our chance to become rich seeling them as ultra rare exotic parts on both sides of the pond  Grin
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