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 Hagerty.com:
Opel GT was the first to pop into my head, too. It was beautiful.
And the first generation Miata? Not so beautiful, but there sure were a lot of them.
I'm guessing they classified Opels as "pop up headlights," though I'd argue they should get an exception waiver since they are "rollover" headlights and special and unique.
Most are not aware of the Opel's mechanical linkage and how the lamps rolled over from side to side instead of front to back as most folks would think. First time I saw those in 1970 I was amazed.
Great list! But sorry...how could you POSSIBLY have not included the '63 Corvette?? When the headlights 'went hidden' after the end of the C1 generation ('62), they remained hidden in the Corvette for the next 43 years!
Where's the 71 to 73 Opel GT? 100% mechanical - no vacuum tubes or electronics to go wrong. My daughter drove one in High School and College. Great little car.
The most aesthetically pleasing hidden headlight treatments are those that don't become bug-eyed or lumpy or aerodynamically compromised when the headlights are summoned. In that respect, the various pop-up treatments like the Opel GT, Porsche 914 & 928, and some Corvettes fall short.
An obvious omission of an innovative American car preceding all of these with pioneering improvements such as front wheel drive, supercharging, 4 speed transmission would be the Cord with also pop up hidden headlights. Not to mention the aerodynamic shape.
I love my C5 Corvette and the honor it brings of being the last of the hidden light Corvettes. I do understand that it's not pretty enough for a top TEN, however the C2 Corvette is certainly worthy of that honor.
My first new car was a 69 Goat that I ordered. I don’t remember the option for headlights being offered, so I was surprised to see this.
so fired up when my car finally showed up. Picked it up just before dealership closed for the night. February, cold as cold gets, hot about 5 miles from the dealership and it stalled out. Called salesman, said wait a while, new engine sometimes swell a little first 50 miles or so. Huh? Get your butt out here and either fix it or give me my check. New battery, new alternator, home by midnight. lol
I saw a few cars that should not have been placed above one of the first and best looking of all cars listed not only for the design of the hide-a-way headlights but the whole symmetry of the car and how the headlight buckets are actually part of it's overall shape. 1963-1967 Corvette
I read that 67 to 69 Camaro RS headlight doors changed due to icy weather operation. In 67 they were electric operated and when iced up would powerfully bend the mechanism so for 68 they changed to vacuum operated which would freeze shut but were not damaged. But when the 68’s froze Some people would force them open and damage them anyway. In 69 they went with the louvered design so when frozen shut the headlight still had some ability to light the road. Nothing like trial and error engineering!
I think it was! I remembered a 30s car had them, but not which one until I saw mention of the Cord. On Jay Leno's site he mentions that the Cord was the first (American) car to have hidden headlights. "It had three other features that were firsts in America: the horn ring and, for improved streamlining, a covered gas cap and hidden headlights that the driver unveiled with a hand crank." https://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/a6738/1936-cord-810-812-the-beautiful-baby-duesenberg-that-nev.... Of course Jay could be wrong... but I couldn't find an earlier car. Maybe a show car or custom bodied car had them, but no actual mass production car (mass production is defined as at least 25 identical examples by the FIA, most US clubs and such say 1500 of the same body/construction type... might have different options though).