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Lisa-G

T-3 Headlamps

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I was out shopping in my Skylark and some man came up to the car, I watched him outside the streetside window of the clothing store I was in. He took off his glasses and looked at the grill. I thought he was going to open the hood so I ran outside and asked what he was doing. He said he noticed the car still has 3 of the 4 T-3 headlamps on it. That they were original lamps and not many vintage cars still have them.

Do they really matter or are they just something that GM put on their new cars ?

I have seen them on ebay and they cost alot.

Thanks for the input

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Lisa-G,

I am no expert, but if you have a show car and wanted judged to "as original" condition, you should have the T-3 headlights (all four). However, if you drive it especially a lot at night, I believe there are far better headlight replacements you would want for better night driving.

John

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There is a company handling new reproduction T 3 headlights. If you are a stickler for authenticity, then they are worth the price. If you are just looking for safety, my NAPA still has non halogen sealed beam bulbs as well as Halogen sealed beam bulbs.

The original T 3's will tend to give a yellow light after a while, but I still have one on my 56 Buick. The regular sealed beam will be brighter than your T 3's and the Halogen will be brighter still. But the repops are supposed to be just as bright as the other new bulbs.

See the chart below.

lectric ltd article 1.pdf

Edited by JohnD1956 (see edit history)

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One of them, on the passenger side is an ATLAS so im guessing somewhere sometime the car was taken to Chevron for a replacement.

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Good guess. Atlas is the brand of replacement parts we had at our gas station. Also, on the repro T-3s be careful as to which pattern goes to which year. You can still get nicked at a show for having incorrect T3s for that time period. I went and bought replacements, 10 bucks is easier to swallow than 90 for an entire set.

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"T-3" headlinghts were factory equipment on GM cars "back then". They are significant as they were an "advance" with the three tabs to correctly mount headlight aiming equipment of that time. The most accurate was one which attached to the headlight itself. The three tabs ensured it was correctly attached so the headlight's "aim" would be what it needed to be.

Before those headlights came to be reproduced, they were highly-sought-after, even by the non-show people, but people who wanted and appreciated what "T-3" headlights were. They did seem to last a long time! Therefore, they were a salvage yard "look for" item if you cared about your GM car looking "right".

Back then, there were two types of headlight aiming equipment. The one which attached directly to the headlight lens (which the T-3 lights helped be correctly positioned) and the one which rolled around that you positioned right in front of the headlight.

On the former one, there was a level and other calibrations to make before the final "aim" check/adjustment. This was considered to be the most accurate. With the other one, it depended upon how well the operator set up the location of the "machine", although it had a "guide" which was supposed to be aimed at the center of the lens.

Atlas was a "service station" brand of quality vehicle items. Tires, light bulbs, etc. Back then, we had Gulf brand gasoline (Chevron didn't replace them in TX until the early 1970s) with the Exxon (aka Esso, Enco, previously) being where the Atlas items were sold. The Atlas Plycron tires were some of the best ones around. If one took more than about 1.5 ounces to balance, it was highly unusual, as most took about .5 ounce to do the deal. There was a plant in East Texas that built them. They lasted very well, too.

I'm not sure why the T-3 headlights had such great longevity, but they did. Not sure if the repros have the same attribute, though.

Enjoy!

NTX5467

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Guest my3buicks

I have purchased several sets of T3 repos over the years and have been totally satified with them. They are whiter and brighter than the originals. I have had a set in my 67 probably since they were first introduced. Over the years I have used them alot as when traveling to long distance shows/nationals, etc I always travel at night. I wish they made them for my 72.

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I still have a set of original T-3s in my garage I bought years ago, are they worth anything ? I put the T-3s in my car but, I was unhappy with them cause they weren't as bright as I'm use to for night driving. So I put halogens back in there. I was thinking of getting a set of the repro T-3s, heard they were brighter..

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Keep the T-3's off except for shows. If you drive often at night halogens are much brighter. Yes, they are worth money, but you should hold on to them.

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I really dont drive at night hardly at all. But I might just pick up a set of originals either at a wreckers or off ebay. Its only original .... once

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Keep the T-3's off except for shows. If you drive often at night halogens are much brighter. Yes, they are worth money, but you should hold on to them.

Thanks, I'll hang on to my T-3s.

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"T-3" headlinghts were factory equipment on GM cars "back then". They are significant as they were an "advance" with the three tabs to correctly mount headlight aiming equipment of that time. The most accurate was one which attached to the headlight itself. The three tabs ensured it was correctly attached so the headlight's "aim" would be what it needed to be.

Before those headlights came to be reproduced, they were highly-sought-after, even by the non-show people, but people who wanted and appreciated what "T-3" headlights were. They did seem to last a long time! Therefore, they were a salvage yard "look for" item if you cared about your GM car looking "right".

Back then, there were two types of headlight aiming equipment. The one which attached directly to the headlight lens (which the T-3 lights helped be correctly positioned) and the one which rolled around that you positioned right in front of the headlight.

On the former one, there was a level and other calibrations to make before the final "aim" check/adjustment. This was considered to be the most accurate. With the other one, it depended upon how well the operator set up the location of the "machine", although it had a "guide" which was supposed to be aimed at the center of the lens.

Atlas was a "service station" brand of quality vehicle items. Tires, light bulbs, etc. Back then, we had Gulf brand gasoline (Chevron didn't replace them in TX until the early 1970s) with the Exxon (aka Esso, Enco, previously) being where the Atlas items were sold. The Atlas Plycron tires were some of the best ones around. If one took more than about 1.5 ounces to balance, it was highly unusual, as most took about .5 ounce to do the deal. There was a plant in East Texas that built them. They lasted very well, too.

I'm not sure why the T-3 headlights had such great longevity, but they did. Not sure if the repros have the same attribute, though.

Enjoy!

NTX5467

That Tire plant was/is in Tyler and still producing excellent tires with the Kelly-Springfield label. Kelly-Springfield is an autonomous operating division of Goodyear. I've been running Kelly's for years on my trucks and I would say they are very comparable to Michelins in terms of handling and wear.

And the bit about Atlas tires requiring little weight to balance still applies to what comes out of that plant. None of the Kelly tires on my trucks have more than a couple of ounces of balancing weights, most less.

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I had used Kelly Springfield tires a long time ago and would have put them on my GS if I could have found them in my area. I honestly thought they had gone out of business, but I am glad to hear they are still around. I just looked at their web site, not many 14" rim tires available.

Edited by JohnD1956 (see edit history)

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I have purchased several sets of T3 repos over the years and have been totally satified with them. They are whiter and brighter than the originals. I have had a set in my 67 probably since they were first introduced. Over the years I have used them alot as when traveling to long distance shows/nationals, etc I always travel at night. I wish they made them for my 72.

I agree completely--The repro T3s are much brighter than the originals, and last much longer. They are a great choice for a car that is driven but wants to look "original".

HOWEVER, if you are having a car judged, be aware that they are NOT identical to original T3s. I'm not sure how BCA treats them in judging, but NCRS gives a full deduction because the are readily distinguishable (and different) from original.

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Guest my3buicks

what doesn't the NCRS not deduct for, heck if it's new air in the tires they deduct.

As far as the BCA, let's put it this way, I have been showing them on my cars in the BCA for three decades and have never had a deduction.

That said, the differences are so minute that even that is questionable. The aiming nipples on originals are usually ground off a bit, but not always, I have some NOS ones that there are no grinding marks on.

Sitting on a show field unless you are an expert on headlights and are on your hands and knees examining the bulbs, you are not going to see a difference and then MAYBE.

Typical NCRS axe to grind attitude.

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i have a set that have sealed beam at the bottom, are these still original? i am selling them on eBay....i bought them and i might be giving false advertisement here....lol...i believe they are original because the ones i took off my 57 Buick are identical....

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Keith, now that we know your T-3s aren't original, we'll be deducting for them......Just kidding, of course. I never deduct points if they say 'T-3' on them. I'm not that picky.

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Guest my3buicks

I would agree Roy, I am picky, but with the number of reproduced parts on all the restored cars where would you start or where would you stop. Weatherstripping? Tires? Batteries? heck even full interiors are reproduced - so the T3's in my eyes would be no different than any other reproduced item as long as it's a proper reproduction.

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what doesn't the NCRS not deduct for, heck if it's new air in the tires they deduct.

As far as the BCA, let's put it this way, I have been showing them on my cars in the BCA for three decades and have never had a deduction.

That said, the differences are so minute that even that is questionable. The aiming nipples on originals are usually ground off a bit, but not always, I have some NOS ones that there are no grinding marks on.

Sitting on a show field unless you are an expert on headlights and are on your hands and knees examining the bulbs, you are not going to see a difference and then MAYBE.

Typical NCRS axe to grind attitude.

Keith,

I agree with most of your comments, but the visible differences on the repro T3s are actually pretty easy to spot. The filament/reflector inside is a big difference, although if all 4 match, most folks will never know the difference. As you point out, the lack of grinder marks on the aiming nibs is another give away.

I'm pretty picky, but consider the repro T3's to be a great compromise between authentic appearance and good reliable function!

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Years ago (10 +/- ?) the Buick BUGLE had an extensive article with pictures on the T-3's. If I remember correctly, the T-3's started in the mid 50's. Prior to the T-3's, headlights were GUIDE.

Does anybody have a Index of BUGLE articles that Helen Hutchings advertises in the BUGLE and sells them for $35? Would appreciate it to know what year and month the article was in.

Al Mack

"500 Miles West of Flint"

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