I was recently pondering taillights, as I often am, and I remembered something interesting that happened in the 1980s: Several cars released back then had lines or cross-hatches within their taillights. Specifically, I’m talking about the Nissan Pulsar and the Pontiac Grand Prix, but I suspect there were others.
For the Pulsar, the design was highly distinctive: The small Japanese car had large, square brake lights, like everything else in the 1980s, but then Nissan attached a cover over them with many diagonal lines that covered the whole taillight, brake light and turn signal. This was apparently an easy way to make this car more stylish, and anyone who’s spent any time around a Pulsar likely remembers the unusual taillights.
The 1988-1996 Pontiac Grand Prix’s rear lights, to me, were even more unusual. The Grand Prix’s rear lights were cross-hatched with black lines — some that were vertical and some that were horizontal. But, if I recall correctly, the brake lights themselves were below all this madness, and the cross-hatches were over the turn signal, which was larger in overall size than the brake light.
The mid- to late-1980s Pontiac Grand Am also had a similar setup at the time — possibly with the same rear lights. Cross-hatches over some portion of the light, and (oddly) just horizontal lines over the reverse light, as in the Grand Prix.
I suspect these lights were designed to give all of these vehicles extra "style," though I must say that, looking at all this 30 years later, I don’t see an excess of beauty on these things. What I do see are weird lines that diminish the effectiveness of the brake lights and turn signals. But it was an attempt, and I don’t think Nissan and Pontiac were the only ones making this attempt; I seem to remember similar taillights on pickup trucks and maybe even some other cars — but if other vehicles used them, I can’t quite place them. Does anyone else remember any other lined or cross-hatched 1980s taillights?
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.