Cars with opening headlights: model overview, description, owner reviews
In the 70s and 80s of the last century, the hallmark of many sports cars was retractable headlights when necessary. The striking and stylish design solution also had a practical underpinning, providing the most efficient aerodynamics, since the headlights hidden under the hood made the lines of the car smoother and more streamlined, lowering the aerodynamic drag coefficient. The mechanism for raising the headlights on many cars has become an element that focuses on unusual style. What cars have headlights? We bring to your attention the brightest car models in which such a solution was implemented. Oddly enough, but the retractable headlights on the VAZ were no exception, although the domestic auto industry did not make it to our list.
Retractable car headlights gained popularity in the 1980s and 90s, despite the fact that the first car with such a design feature was created in 1936. Erret Kord, the founder of the car company of the same name, was of the opinion that in order to attract attention to the manufactured models, they must be equipped with innovative technologies. Today, the creativity of the 30s is not surprising, but at the beginning of the 20th century, such decisions were really bold.
The first technology introduced by Kord into brand cars was front-wheel drive, which was appreciated only in the late 1970s. The second – those same hidden headlights, retractable at the touch of a button. Despite the fact that the ideas were ahead of their time, the car company went bankrupt in 1937.
However, Kord still left his mark on the automotive industry. After 30 years, the idea of cars with opening headlights was repeated by Oldsmobile, whose engineers were inspired by the Cord 810 model.
The sporty ambitions invested by the engineers in this model were emphasized by the retractable headlights, as well as the aggressiveness of the design, which is not at all characteristic of the brand. The smooth line of the hood reaches almost to the front bumper, thereby providing excellent streamlining – of course, by the standards of those years.
The possibility of driving without headlights is ensured by turn signals taken outward, made in the form that envelops the line of the wings and the front bumper. With the exception of the main headlights, the car was equipped with auxiliary sidelights located at the bottom of the bumper and merging with the grille. The division of the front bumper into two corner parts increased the area of the radiator grille, which ensured proper cooling of the powerful engine.
Iso Grifo Series II
In the case of this model from the list of cars with opening headlights, we are talking only about rising covers above the optics. The dual headlight optics remain visible in any position, and the driver can only control the degree of its opening. Thanks to this, half-covered headlights can be used even at night. Such a technical solution had a fashion connotation and did not have the practical advantages that distinguish fully retractable or permanently open headlights.
As in the case of the Ferrari, the need for sufficient radiator airflow was solved by installing two false radiator grilles under the front bumper and between the optics. The front turn signals seemed like foreign objects that worsened aerodynamics, since they were located on the front bumper in a separate housing.
BMW 8 Series
The most striking modern representative of an unusual design solution was the BMW 8 series with retractable headlights. The model was released in 1989, when retractable optics were at the height of fashion. The head optics, like those of the Ferrari, combined sidelights and turn signals that remained in sight, and the main headlights hidden under the hood line.
The stylish and aggressive car was out of style, which the concern adhered to in those years. Unfortunately for the fans of the brand, the chosen direction did not receive further distribution, which made the eighth series so unique. The original design of the car with opening headlights was much closer to Lamborghini, and only the twin nozzles of the false radiator grille reminded of the Bavarian origin.
American automakers did not lag behind fashion design trends, embodying the chosen concept in a very peculiar way. The peculiarity of the Cougar model lay in the head optics, which remained motionless – only the shutters that closed it rose, imitating the radiator grille. It is useless to talk about practical expediency in this case: both the headlights and the shutters were vertical and did not adapt to aerodynamic needs. This innovation was just an attempt by the company’s engineers to introduce a fashion trend into the classic style of American muscle cars, which prevailed due to low weight, streamlining, power, coupled with a sports suspension and refined handling.
According to the degree of originality of the mechanism, the Porsche 928 gets the palm – a car with opening headlights, which, despite all the mobility, always remained in sight. When folded, the optics were flush with the hood, and its glasses looked almost vertically upwards. When it became necessary to use the headlights, they occupied the traditional position, however, they had separate housings on racks, which was typical for cars produced in the first half of the 20th century. The sloping and low line of the bonnet made the headlights, when folded, a functional element, smoothed out for improved aerodynamics.
Toyota. Model 2000GT
Toyota with retractable headlights is the original representative of the Japanese automobile industry. Designed to mislead motorists. The large front sidelights located at the corners of the false radiator grill suggest that the main function of the head lighting is assigned to them. But the image of the car is completed by large headlights, retractable from under the hood. The disadvantage of such a design decision was that the image of the car becomes complete and harmonious only with the main optics raised. When stowed, the headlights give the front end a 2000s subcompact look not associated with sports cars.
This Lamborghini model does not have a full-fledged mechanism for hiding headlights or shutters closing them: the technical solution used here is in many ways similar to the Porsche 928. But in the case of Miura, the optics rise, changing the angle of illumination, but do not extend completely. This changes the perception of the front of the car, suggesting the immobility of the head optics.
The maximum efficiency of the aerodynamics of a sports car determines such a solution; this approach is purely rational and is not associated with fashion trends in automotive design.
Like other car models, Opel is equipped with a mechanical drive to raise the optics, which is completely hidden by a sloping and low hood. A distinctive feature of this car is that the mechanism rotates the headlights around a longitudinal, not transverse axis, unlike competitive models. In view of this, the process is more interesting and attracts a lot of attention.
The NSX is a sports car with open headlights for every day, which explained the difficult task given to the designers of the auto company: to place full-fledged optics under the hood line that can be used regularly, while ensuring maximum streamlining. The result was a traditional scheme, which was later made the reference for all cars with folding headlights. The decision was shelved on later models, replaced by a stationary placement of optics, because of which the car lost all its uniqueness.
The release of the Nissan coupe with retractable headlights was launched in 1983. As a result, the model has become the most popular representative of the brand. The first generation could boast of rising headlights, but the second, unfortunately, was limited to quite ordinary optics.
The American response to European supercars did not come until the 1980s. The official title of the first American supercar was awarded to Vector W8 – a model produced in 22 copies, seven of which were constantly present at various exhibitions. When creating a car with opening headlights, engineers were guided by the technical characteristics of the McLaren F1: a 6-liter bi-turbo engine with a capacity of 634 horsepower, a three-speed automatic transmission, acceleration dynamics – 4 seconds at a maximum speed of 350 km / h.
The body of the car was constructed using Kevlar, a durable material used in the space industry. Vector stood out from similar supercars with retractable headlights that improve the aerodynamic component of the model.