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steelman

Phantom Headlights in a 63

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Ed has asked for more information on the headlight conversion I did on my 63. I did not take enough pictures or keep notes when I did this because I still wasn't sure I could make this work, so this is not a how-to. Just a few facts related to what I did. This started when I added the billet grille, thus forcing the relocation of the headlights to the fender pods where they should have been. I tried using the stock 5 1/2 inch round headlights, but there just isn't enough vertical space between the bumper and the top of the fender for two lights. Tried 67 Lemans and even 65 Fairlane (yes Ford) mounting brackets, but couldn't get them close enough together to work. I also tried single lights, but there was too much room and this looked bad.

What the pictures below reflect are headlights from a 92 Pontiac Grand Prix installed in the fender pods of a 63 behind the fender grilles. These lights are small rectangular halogen bulbs. They are 2 1/4 x 5 1/2. The nice thing about the Grand Prix lights are they are self contained in a bucket with adjusters that are removed from the car as assemblies. There are 4 different assemblies in this car as they are each different right to left and for high and low beam. Make sure to get the plugs and about 2 feet of wire from the Grand Prix at the Pull a Part. You will need it too. The assembly pictured is an extra left hand low beam I had handy.

To mount these in the Riviera, I used the low beam on top and turned the high beam housing upside down under it. The bottoms of these assemblies are flat, so that put the two flat mounting surfaces together. There are notches in the lens retainer that line up with the notches on the side of the bulb. To turn the high beam light back right side up (in the upside down assembly), these notches must be made in the other side of the lens retainer. This sheetmetal is fairly thin, so this was done in a few minutes with a file. I used 1/8 x 1 steel strap bent into an L to mount the assemblies to the inner fender of the car. The L is turned with one leg down and the other horizontal. I mounted one assembly above and one below, with a bracket on each edge of the light. Aligning existing holes gave me the 1 1/2 inch stagger face to face of the lights I wanted. Some hole reaming is required, but you end up with common holes on side and 2 on the other. I would love to give you dimensions for the brackets, but I don't remember them. Either 5 1/2 or 6 on each leg, I think. This gives an overall assembly of about 6 inches wide and about 8 inches tall to go in each fender. They are tight, but will go in. Holes were drilled into the inner fender to mount the brackets below the lower light assembly. Another bracket was made to bolt to the existing mounting tab on the low beam assembly and to the small sheetmetal brace at the top of the fender. I need to add a similar brace to the bottom, as the top is solid enough, but the high beam is just a little shakey going down the road.

The 4 on Bright relay is from Painless Wiring and is intended for a 88-98 Chevy pickup. Part #30802, about $40 from O'Reillys or you can order direct from Painless. This relay turns all 4 bulbs on when you hit bright. The parklights/turnsignals are from Kool Rides. These are 1 1/4 x 1 1/2 self contained amber lens 3 wire lights that I mounted behind the grille with a simple Z bracket from existing bolts in the radiator support. These almost disappear behind the billet grille when not on, and that is what I wanted them to do.

I am sure I left some stuff out, but I will try to answer questions if I can.

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Steve,

That is a very cool conversion! How much does the parking light grill and lense impact the light output from the bulbs?

Thanks,

Tim

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At this point I only have the grilles mounted to the fenders, without the lenses. There is no impact to the light level at all that way. The grilles are far enough away from the bulbs that they have no impact. My stock lenses are not in very good shape, so I haven't tried using them yet. Keep in mind that the front of my car is very low, so unless you get down really low, you can't see these lights. I tried to keep them inside the edge of the fender for just this reason. These pictures were taken laying on my garage floor so I could get pictures of the installed lights. That's why I called them phantom headlights, as you have to look really hard to see them at all. I have some pictures in my other computer taken with the lights on I will post later.

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Looks really nice. I'd use something less utilitarian for the marker/turn signal though, perhaps mounted below the headlights?

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Steve,

I've been out of town for the Holidays and just now got home and checked the forum. The lights look good and your pictures should make it easy to do something similar. Thanks,

Ed

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Thanks, King. Makes a lot of people scratch their heads at shows. I have had nothing but positive feedback everywhere I take it.

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is the 1965 grill a direct fit on the 63/64?

I am not for sure, but I have heard no. Seems like the 65 grille is a little wider on each side than the 63-64. A 65 grille would have to be cut down on each side to fit the 63-64 cavity. Seems like that is what my billet grile guy told me a few years ago. Maybe somebody that has one of each would measure and report back?

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is the 1965 grill a direct fit on the 63/64?

No, it's not a direct fit. The best way to do the conversion is to use a '65 front clip; however, that requires inner fenders, fenders, clamshell assemblies, headlight arms, headlight motor with bracket, wiring harness, various relays, grill, upper and lower bumpers (No, '63/'64 bumpers will not work with a '65), and splash pan. It's a bolt-on and the parts should be readily available for those inclined to tackle this task. I think it's easier just to buy a '65, no?

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If you're thinking about putting the stacked headlights into a '63/'64, you would probably be better off putting an aftermarket bar grill in the 63/64 front clip.

There's one for sale on ebay right now.

Ed

Edited by RivNut (see edit history)

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Hey Steelman I'm ready to install GP headlights in my 63 Riviera do you have any more pictures or advice

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Looking back it has been almost 10 years since I did this. Good luck with this. let me know if you have questions.

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Hello Riv lovers. I just picked up a very clean 1963 Riviera and I'm going to do the head light conversion inside the housing of the turning light pods.

What I REALLY need is finding a billet grille that will fit my 63 Riv.

Anybody know a company that makes the grills to fit a 63-64 Riv? The only company I could find makes the grills for only the 65 Riv and not the 63-64's.

 

Also, I've got the wood veneer panels on the doors. Any idea where to find replacements since one is warped from water damage and the other has dried and split somewhat.

 

Any good feedback is much appreciated! Especially from RivNut the guru!

 

Rich

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RichRiv,

 

Welcome to the forum.  The first thing you'll discover about owning a Riviera is that there are very few items reproduced for it.  Treat your wood grained panels as you would treat any other piece of wood.  You can remove the old shellac and see what's  left, you can buy some new veneer and make some for yourself, or you ca  purchase a new kit (One of the few repo parts available.)  You'll  be light years ahead if you join the Riviera Owners Assn. Their magazine recently did a two part article on restoring these wood pieces or you can check their classified ads for the reproduction pieces.  

 

The billet grills used to be on eBay constantly.  What's happened to them is a goog question.  Search this forum for threads about the subject.  There may be an ad for them in the ROA's magazine.

 

Above all, just enjoy your car.  Patience is the key to finding what you're looking for.  Remember, it's not a Camaro or a Mustang.  You can't just go out and buy stuff off the shelf.

 

Ed

Edited by RivNut (see edit history)

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Contact the company that makes the 65 grille. Billet Art, I think. They may not show it, but they can make a grille for the 63-64. That is where I got mine. And these are different than a 65 grille. May not be a stock item any more, but they have the pattern.

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I just Googled it.  Check the website for 20-40 parts .com. They show one for $258.

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Heres what I did after following Steelmans  great    I used 1/8x1in metal for top and bottom had to bend both to keep lights straight  Attached a strap in back to stiffen lights

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