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Bryan
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 Hagerty.com:

https://www.hagerty.com/media/lists/our-10-favorite-hidden-headlights/

275 REPLIES 275
GirlToy
Navigator

I was just about to mention Opel GT. Coolest headlights ever!

1980MGB
New Driver

I agree.  Probably the coolest hidden headlights.

JohnnyO
Passenger

I was just about to mention the Opel GT as well. Mechanical Genius! I had one and miss it every day.

wentwest
Intermediate Driver

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. 

Tim
Technician

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.

Mike_E_V
Detailer

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. 

Vettexan13
New Driver

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!  

Brandan
Hagerty Employee

"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"
Peter_Veneziano
New Driver

Opal GT ??

Porsche 928 ??

Come on Man

HV24
Intermediate Driver

C4 Corvette, Toyota 2000GT (67-70), 67 Cadillac Eldorado can also be added to the list.

delling3
New Driver

Opel GT's had a simple, but ultimately cool hideaway head light set up. 

NigelFlopstalk
New Driver

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.  

Steve-in-PV
Passenger

‘69-‘73 Opel GT

Krippel
Intermediate Driver

Nailed mine. Without even opening the article the Riv was the first to pop into my head. 

topside
Advanced Driver

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.

jimlarson
Passenger

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.

dcastine59
Navigator

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. 

Hagerty Fan
Not applicable

That Desoto certainly wasn't the first. The Cord beat it by 6 years.

gascfp
Passenger

I agree with the Cord and the Toronado.  And how about the 70's Continentals, especially the Mark III?

Gary49
New Driver

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 

fellberg
New Driver

So  many  great ones not mentioned. NA Miata, 63 Stingray -Corvettes

DisneyPop1
Passenger

Seriously? Not One Corvette?

tigercat
Detailer

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

Bettyemae
Intermediate Driver

Miata Is Always The Answer

OldRusty1
New Driver

We had his and hers '78 and '79 Lincoln Mark V's back in the day.

ITO
Passenger

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!

PackardBill
Passenger

You missed 1984 Supra

bblhed
Instructor

I had a Fiero, and I have a Miata, I still like the Buick Rivera headlights best, the Opal GT is a close second.

TrumpWins2020
Navigator

How could you have forgotten the 1967 Pontiac Grand Prix???  

Rockem
Intermediate Driver

I wonder why the Stingray wasn't in that list? I'm sure we all remember how well they worked. 

Mike_E_V
Detailer

Even the C3's had pretty cool lamps.

DennisTheROACH
New Driver

The 1930's CORDS were earlier than the 42' Desoto.

ChrisR
New Driver

The Porsche 928 laid-back lenses that popped up into frog-eyes.

 

MickeyD
New Driver

In 68 only the Ford XL and LTD series had the hidden headlights. Galaxie 500's had the base grille with exposed headlights. 

Turnerbudd
Passenger

What about a Cord 812? Classic trend setter.

LS_jr
Passenger

What, no Saab Sonett III?  For shame.

gary21sn
Pit Crew

I expected to see Corvettes on the list.

sorrktm
Intermediate Driver

Second paragraph, they didn't include pop up headlights, only fixed. I too like the corvettes but for this list would choose the RS Camaro.

 

Turnerbudd
Passenger

What about the Cord 810 and 812? Trend setters for sure.

MarkIII
New Driver

I love 'em all but two of my favs that aren't on the list are the Cord and Lincoln Mark III. They were both somewhat high roller muscle.

gfviperman
Detailer

'68 Charger is the winner!!

Better than '69 or '70.

Opel, not listed, would be second.

Patrician
Detailer

The 1966-1970 Chargers were such good looking cars it is hard to believe they are Mopars. The fuel fill requires special mention.

Numberscruncher
Detailer

You forgot the 60's Olds Toronados. Those were so cool.

Okey78
Intermediate Driver

Concur on the Toronado!  One of the best American designs of the 60's.

avideo
Detailer

How could you ignore the 1963-67 C2 Corvettes? Great body lines unlike anything else on the road and actual motors that raised and lowered the lights. 

jamcrout
Navigator

Exactly
cgafa
Navigator

63 Vette started the hidden headlights in most of the cars mentioned. You missed the boat here!
leduced
Intermediate Driver

Maybe the 35/36 Cord was the first...

Figuero
Intermediate Driver

1936 Ferrari Berlinetta,  Alfa Romeo 8C, and the Cord 810.

farna
Instructor

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).