Headlight Tuning

One of the few things I have managed to mess around with on my cars in the couple weeks is the headlights on my hatch. (Editor’s Note: I know it technically should be called a fastback, but that just feels so strange to say. And I don’t want to call it a 180 because that bugs people too. So from now on, I’m just going to refer to the cars as my hatch and my coupe. Deal?) The headlight housings you choose for the iconic pop-ups have a drastic impact on the overall appearance of the car.

I’ve swapped back and forth between a few different options over the years as my tastes change. My experience includes generic eBay clear housings, Raybrig clear H4 housings, and Hella H4 housings. The other option I have considered for years is the Cibie H4 that Mike from ClearCorners.com used to always preach about on Zilvia.net, but I could never bring myself to spend the money and track a pair down. Mike used to always say those by far had the best light output.

For me, it’s never really been about light output as much as it has been the aesthetic. Raybrig housings have a very clean and sleek look that updates the front end of the car a bit. During some of my more OEM+ phases, I have ditched the Raybrigs in favor of Hellas. That’s what I had on my car for the last few years, but I recently wanted to give the Raybrigs a try once again.

I decided it might be helpful to document the visual difference between three different H4 headlight options for the S13- Hella, Raybrig Clear Type, and Raybrig Blue/Purple type. My previous sets of Raybrigs were always the clear type, but I bit the bullet and tried ordering the blue/purple type this time to see if I liked it. As fate would have it, the eBay seller sent me clear ones- so I had to order another pair of the blue/purple version from a different seller.

From Left to Right: Hella, Raybrig Clear Type, Raybrig Blue/Purple Type.

Here’s a side by side comparison of the two Raybrig options. The blue tint is fairly subtle, but you can definitely tell it’s there when compared to the clear type. Be sure to take note when you order these as some sellers sell the housings individually, and others sell as a pair. I was bummed to find I had been duped into ordering one light rather than a pair and had to order a second one. Rather than taking risks with eBay like I did, I would recommend ordering from a reputable retailer like RHD Japan just to be safe.

I tossed one of the blue Raybrigs on the car to grab some side by side photos of the visual difference between these and the Hellas. It definitely changes the look of the car quite a bit for something so simple. One key difference to note is that the Hella lenses are glass and the Raybrigs are plastic. I did have a Hella lens spider crack once a few years back from getting hit by a stone on the highway. Please excuse my aero items that are still unpainted- hope to address that before spring arrives!

Blue/Purple Raybrig on the left, Hella on the right.
There’s a major visual difference between the two types.

I was curious about the beam pattern and light distribution, so I snapped a photo of that as well. Honestly, I didn’t see as much of a difference as I expected to. I’ve always thought the Hellas were superior, but it’s not as drastic of a difference as I expected. I’m no lighting expert though…

Hella on the left, Raybrig on the right.

And finally, here are a couple photos to compare the clear Raybrigs vs the blue/purple version. It’s a little difficult to capture the color difference, but hopefully this info is helpful to people struggling with which option to choose like I did.

Blue/Purple type on the left, clear type on the right.

I ultimately decided to stick to my guns and run the clear type Raybrigs this time around. I like the blue/purple version a lot and think they’re really cool, but the clear type just seems to compliment my car a bit more in my opinion. I think the blue would suit the car more if it was a bit more wild, i.e. large aero and aftermarket seats etc.

Are there other options out there like projector retrofitted and LED housings? Yes. But in my personal opinion, those just don’t flow well with the type of S13 I hope to build. I’m sure the light output is much better, but I personally just don’t care for the look of those newer-age solutions. It’s probably silly to sacrifice drivability and visibility for the sake of appearance, but that’s sort of what this hobby is about in a lot of ways right?

So there you have it! Hopefully this info helps you out with your headlight decision for your pop-up equipped S13. I do plan to pick up some LED headlight bulbs for both of my S13s this winter, so perhaps I’ll check in with an update on how those work out. I’ll likely leave the other lights on the cars as normal halogen bulbs, but we’ll see.

Thanks as always for stopping by to follow along with my garage shenanigans. I hope you have a great weekend!


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