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How Did We See With Halogen Headlights?

As you may know, I recently bought a 1999 Mercedes-Benz G500 Cabriolet, which is an automobile that came from the factory with halogen headlights. This shouldn’t surprise you, of course — many vehicles from this era came from the factory with halogen headlights, and they were pretty normal at the time. The big question I have, though, is … how?!

It’s actually quite unbelievable, in my opinion, when you use halogen headlights today. Pretty much all of us have now been in a car with LED headlights, or at least high-intensity xenon headlights, and they’re an unbelievably massive step up above halogens. With that in mind, it’s incredibly hard to go back.

Indeed, when I first drove my G500 at night, I was absolutely shocked — and mortified — to discover the quality of the halogen lights. They’re unbelievably awful, and you can’t see a thing, and I truly can’t believe that we, as a society, once considered this the norm.

Instantly, I replaced the halogen headlights on my G500, and I got new LEDs that do a far better job illuminating the road and everything else. I made the same upgrade in my 1997 Land Rover Defender when I bought it about three years ago, and I’m absolutely thrilled that I did. You can actually see things at night.

The problem, however, is that it isn’t always so easy. The G500 and Defender both have 7-in round headlights, which was a headlight standard used on many cars — from the original Austin Mini to the AM General Hummer — for decades. Replacing the halogen headlights with LEDs in normal cars is more of a challenge since some custom work is involved, and it doesn’t always work out so well — meaning most older cars just simply don’t project enough light at night.

Of course, when they were new, we thought it was enough light — but I’m truly shocked at how dark it looks now, in 2019, when better headlights have become the norm. And truly, I can’t believe we ever lived — and drove at night — in the era of halogens.

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