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Hagerty Employee

Our 10 favorite hidden headlights

Modern car designers have it easy. They can sculpt jewel-like housings for their headlights and integrate them into the car’s bodylines almost seamlessly. Back in the days of sealed-beam headlamps, however, there were only so many options to choose from. And while many designers got creative, integrating the lamps into the car’s overall design, some of our favorite cars were available with headlights that were virtually invisible until needed.


We know, headlights go up, headlights go down. We love pop-up headlights too, but that’s for another discussion. Pop-up headlights are a form of hidden headlights, but we’re being completely arbitrary and defining those in this list as stationary headlights that are revealed when a panel opens up to reveal them. Here are 10 of our favorites.


Read the full list on

275 REPLIES 275
Pit Crew

By your definitely, you're correct on the '42 Desoto.  The '36-37 Cord 810-812 was first, but they're "pop up" well, "crank up" is more accurate.

Pit Crew

I'm noticing that most of the cars mentioned below as being missed either had their headlights pop up, or swivel up, into place (Opel GT, C2-C5 Corvettes, etc.).  By the opening paragraph, this list is limited to cars where the headlights themselves were firmly bolted in place and a cover was moved to expose the lamps.


How about a follow-up on the over/under of their working in the winter and/or after three years of use?  


But you got the Riv and surprise, the '42 DeSoto.  That had to be very limited in production due to WWII....

New Driver

You forgot my 79 Thunderbird has hidden head Lights which still works, amazingly.

Intermediate Driver

I cannot believe that  you have the (admittedly attractive) '42 DeSoto at the top as  "...possibly the first" ?  Do you, by any chance, remember the arguably most beautiful application of hidden headlights ever, that came along six (6) years earlier?  The '36-'37 Cord?  C'mon!


Shame on me. You are correct. I mentioned the 1966 Toronado.  It would not qualify as it is a pop up. Should have read more closely.  Was just scanning for entertainment. 

Pit Crew

Lamborghini Jarama


How could you overlook the Cord?


fun.  why not include a photo of the headlights exposed, as well?  or even a winker?    that's half the fun!   thanks for the Riviera vid - i've never seen them operate.

Pit Crew

Subaru GL and Brat with the third headlight or foglight hidden behind the Subaru emblem and also the semi hidden headlights of the Alfa Romeo . Montreal.

Intermediate Driver

What about the 1967-69 T-Bird? Full Disclosure: My Mom owned a 1967 T-Bird, which still ranks as my favorite car my family owned while I was growing up. By 1970, the hidden headlights disappeared when the T-Bird grew the "Bunkie Beak" so despised by T-Bird lovers everywhere.

Intermediate Driver

Where is the 1937 Cord?

Intermediate Driver

The hideaways on the big 72 Plymouth Fury Coupe I had certainly made that car more interesting.  Especially the clang they made when they opened!

New Driver

I would like to add my unloved but loved by me; 1970 Lincoln MarkIII and 1967 Thunderbird.

Striking each but in different ways.

Pit Crew

what about corvette, Sadness! hmm



New Driver

We had a couple of really cool Fords here in Australia with that feature. The '73 - '76 Ford P5 LTD and its close relative the '73 - '76 Ford Landau. Both were based around the Australian Falcon and were powered by the 351 V8.


My first car was a 68 Dodge Charger.  The headlamp doors didn't work when I bought it used in 1974, but I would manually open and close them by hand because I thought the car looked so much better with the covers down.  Wasn't smart enough of a mechanic at 16 years old to actually know how to fix them to work properly.  I do remember a few nights driving home from work with people flashing their lights at me because I forgot to flip the doors open.  Still one of my favorite looking cars.  Wish people would have read the beginning of this article so they would not be commenting about vehicles with pop up headlamps instead of fixed covered headlamps.  Save the pop ups for a future article.  

Pit Crew

Love the 66-74 Chargers.  Wanted a 66 when they came out but was much too young.  Later in 77 picked up a used 69 which I still have.  In 99 my wife picked up a 66 so now I have the best of both worlds.   Had to repair the pop up lights on both at one time or another, the 69 is much easier to do.


The C4 Vette has the complete unit flip 180 degrees and took the Opel idea to the next level. 

The Fiero was clever as the head lamp was bolted to the space dram independent of the hood. The doors on the hood were spring loaded. This allowed the Fiero to rise up high enough to be legal. They would be too low just to flip up. 

Intermediate Driver

I am shocked at how many people can't tell the difference between popup lights (lights mounted in moveable housings) and those hidden BEHIND moveable headlight doors (lights themselves remain in position but moveable doors reveal and conceal them). I thought this was supposed to be an enthusiast forum.
Intermediate Driver

Two of my favorite cars in the world (and which I own, shown below) which have hidden headlights are the 1968 Pontiac GTO and the 1972 De Tomaso Pantera (actually all 22 years of the Pantera got pop-up hidden headlights).  The '68 GTO is probably my favortie car design of all time.  The front end with its color matched Endura bumper, hood scoops, hood mounted tach, and hidden headlights,as well as it sensuous shape, was and still remains beautiful.  The Pantera's pop-ups rising out of the pointed wedge of the front end still amaze me even after nearly a quarter century of ownership.


DSCF8742 (1024x768) (90x68).jpgGTO pickup1.JPGDSCF8742 (1024x768).jpg

Pit Crew

I love the premise of the article, as I too prefer hidden fixed headlights over pop-up or rotating lights. When the headlights themselves move, there is always the potential for misalignment. I agree with many of the selections, and the '42 DeSoto, '69 Camaro RS, '65 Riv, GTO, Cougar, Charger, and Torino/Ranchero are all personal favorite cars of mine. As mentioned, the Galaxie 500 didn't have hidden headlights. They were standard on the LTD and XL(and the Country Squire wagon, too) for 1968-70, and those two cars had become separate models from the Galaxie for 1966(LTD) and 1967(XL). The '70-'71 Ranchero was the only car/truck hybrid to ever have concealed headlights, and with the Country Squire package you'd also get the woodgrain applique...very unique. A close cousin of the Torino/Ranchero that should have been mentioned was the Mercury Cyclone and Montego. I believe the hidden headlights were standard on the Cyclone GT and Montego Brougham in 1970-71, and optional on the Cyclone Spoiler.

Growing up there were a couple of hidden headlight cars in our family. Our family truckster was a 1970 Mercury Colony Park wagon with hidden headlights, green with woodgrain sides and green inside with a 429 lump under the hood. And my granddad had a 1969 Ford XL Sportsroof that I loved. Beautiful bright blue with white vinyl top and interior. The flying buttresses and hidden headlights outside and the space-age wraparound dash(with radio controls all the way to the left and thus out of reach of meddling passengers!) and "U-bar stick shift" automatic shifter were so cool! Sadly before I could get my hands on that car it was mortally wounded by the insidious dark lord of oxidation.
New Driver

I know there's talking lights that have covers in dront of them, but the coolest of all time, to me were the 68 Riviera headlights that dropped dow IN FRONT OF the grille and tucked up under the header panel when not in use.

With the many repeated cars here I did not see anyone listed this one. 

The late 60’s Impala. The hide away lamps were an option I think on the 67-69 models. I had a vice principal that had a 69 SS with a 427 in it with hide aways. 

They're rare but so good looking with them. 

I saw the 69 Camaro was listed here and about the door design was redone to let light out if they failed to open. 

The Fiero light not only opens but also has to raise the lamp to meet height regulations since the nose was so low. The hinge is articulated to open and raise the bulb housing. 

It also is one of very few cars the lamps remain in the car if you remove the body. 


Hidden light 69 Impala is one of my favorites of all vehicle front ends.


Pictures of me as a two year old standing in the driver seat of a my parents (rather beat) convertible probably helped seed this appreciation.