Let there be light!

Hi everybody!  I have a '51 Pacemaker with the original 6 volt positive ground system.  I would like to be able to drive after dark when necessary.  I'm not able to see as well at night like when I was younger, so I need some LIGHT! 

The first time I drove with the old sealed beams I decided they were too dim, and I replaced them with a pair of reflectors that use an H4 bulb.  I put in a couple of LED lamps but they were no brighter than the sealed beams.  

I recently bought a pair of halogen lamps.  (I have a separate harness for the headlights that connects directly to the battery and is controlled by a relay.)  The halogen lamps are nice and bright but they are 55 watts and I figure they are drawing about 10 amps each!  I'm afraid they may melt the wiring if I use them too long, so I'm thinking about switching back to LEDs. 

Has anybody got any recommendations for a LED lamp that is nice and bright and will work with a 6 volt positive ground?  Or should I just bite the bullet and convert the car to a 12 volt system?


  • Are those the Octane Lighting 6v bulbs? That's what I installed and I love them. While the 12v LEDs are 'there' now in terms of performance, I never found 6Vs worth the effort.
    If you ran 12 gauge wire when you did the relays you should be fine. 12 gauge should carry 20 amps just fine up to something like 10 ft in run. The headlights aren't really much of a long run from the battery.
  • Jon B
    Jon B Administrator
    Also, be sure your light circuit is grounded to the frame (run separate ground wires from sockets to frame) and that the battery cable and ground strap connections are "bright and tight".  I am currently using 6-volt LED headlights on my '37, but my complaint isn't about the brightness; it's about the lack of "projection" of the high beams down the road.  The high beam setting on my lights only serves to brighten the underside of the overhanging trees, and doesn't actually extend the light down the road ahead.
  • Geoff
    Geoff Senior Contributor
    I have 6 volt q-h bulbs in my 1928 Essex,  through a relay right up by the radiator, and they are amazingly bright.  Like Jon, I tried L.E.D.'s and all they do is provide a bright  light that is dissipated in all directions, so virtually useless. Sure the  g-h take about 8 amps each, but this is still peanuts in spite of 94 year-old wiring.  I have soldered ground wires to each bulb holder, directly back to the frame.  
  • As an aside, I've yet to find LEDs that aren't so 'cold' in color they look obscenely anachronistic on classics. At least the 6v halogens are a decent approximation of the sealed beams in terms of color. 
  • Start with a 6 volt relay for your headlights.  Just that was a significant upgrade in illumination for my 1951 Super 6.  The higher current draw will wear out your headlight switch sooner if all the current flows through it.