I bought my E39 for a variety of different reasons, but its headlamps were not one of them. The previous owner had fitted some imitation ‘angel eyes’ that he found on eBay, which, while providing good light, did not look very nice. It was particularly when looking at them from the side that you noticed how cheap they looked (despite costing about the same as a proper facelift set).


For quite a while, I left them alone. After all, they worked, they passed MOT, and I couldn’t find an OEM set for under £200. If I was going to replace the lights, it would have to be done cheaply. Patience was rewarded, however – a few months ago, I found a pre-facelift set off a breaking E39 for £50. They needed to be rebuilt, as they were missing a couple seals and the adjusters were broken (a typical problem on the E39), but they were complete and clean. A few quid for new adjusters, a helpful tutorial from YouTube, and a quiet Friday night in front of the TV, and I was in business.

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 09.30.37

As this wasn’t really something essential, it has very much been an on-and-off project, but last night I finally installed them. So it was out the old…

IMG_20170517_205155 (1)

…and in with the new (old?).

IMG_20170517_205035 (1)

Without a doubt, there is no modification I have made to the car that has made me more happy than this. It looks so much better than it did before. I’m a big fan of originality, and it’s nice to see the car looking as it would have looked when it rolled off the line in 1999 (with 2017-quality bulbs, of course). The only thing left to do is remove a little bit of hazing from the lenses, and they will be perfect.

3 thoughts on “Lighting the road like it’s 1999

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