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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/

260 REPLIES 260
DRKDGLR
Pit Crew

Cord 810/812, 1936-1937 had hidden headlights.

dbucknh
Pit Crew

The '66 Charger will always be my favorite hidden headlight car. The first one for Chrysler since the '42 Desoto that is featured in the story.

Olds34dude
Pit Crew

My first thought was, “they’ll forget the ‘42 De Soto “ well what a surprise, to me the coolest one ever! By the way, the other choices are great too!

Werblink
New Driver

The 1973 Chrysler Imperial had hideaway headlights, and on the one I had the doors worked most of the time.

Superbird
Passenger

Superbird and Daytona!

SlamVan
New Driver

Disappointed that the 67-69 Cadillac Eldorado didn't make your list 😞

SouthCaBo31
Passenger

Those are some cool picks, but I rate the '66 Charger as my favorite.

K-Lap
Pit Crew

Oh boy... While those on the list are all great, what about the 1995 Saturn SC2?

theblurrrr
New Driver

I always liked the 67 Pontiac Grand Prix (fixed) headlights.  Then again, I own one.

DAC_Dynasty
New Driver

Im sure you guys had a typo...since there isnt a Cord in there. Also the 1970 Continental which had its nose inspired by the Cord, but...Im partial to the 72-73 Continentals, with the eggcrate decorative plates and the chrome trim....

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2JdUAhLcCg

51JaguarC-type
Pit Crew

What about the Lotus Elan and the later Elite/Eclat, Triumph TR7/8

Classiccarbuff
Passenger

Fiero?

carguyjim
Detailer

Hard not to include Duesenberg in that list...but fine choices...

MattLaube
Pit Crew

I was sad when my father got a Fury III in 72' instead of a Gran Fury ! The coolest! So modern ..but what a piece of crap, as the build quality was appalling. My grandmother obtained a 73 Gran and my father tried to get Chrysler to buy it back..Everything rattled and leaked ..pure junk!

zimma
Passenger

Hello ? Miata ?

MarkS
New Driver

I think the DeTomaso Pantera should have been included.

S2per
Passenger

I've owned 50 cars and trucks in my 49 years of driving and only 1 with hidden lights; a first generation RX-7. They were period-correct and functional but I always thought they looked a bit dorky when open.  

My favorite? '66-'67 Riviera. I liked how those quads dropped down. That whole car was so sleek.

My least favorite?  '80 Lincoln Mark VI. Goofy round parking lights on the headlamp doors.  The opposite of the Riv mentioned above; an awkward car from most angles.

tigercat
Intermediate Driver

Oops, I am one contributor who is guilty of not paying attention that subject is about hidden, "fixed" stationary headlights, thank you to those who made me aware. Like most I read quickly but lingered on what is important, vintage car pictures. 1963-67 Corvette should definitely be in any hidden though mobile headlight, future topic. As fixed go I remember everyone thought my headlight grills looked so classy on my 1967 Cougar and the fact that it had corresponding grills over the rear taillights aesthetically just completed the look. Also taillights were good enough without the grills for the back of the 1967 Shelby.

ronniehough
Passenger

What about the 1937 Cord?

Petemacdon1
New Driver

How can you forget the 1963-67 Corvette Stingray???

acooper529
Intermediate Driver

Had several of the "baby Corvettes" in the shop over the years. As I remember, it was basically like an Opel Kadett with the bigger motor ( 1.9 ?) and a very different body! I loved the rollover headlight setup but somehow was never too interested in "how" it worked? It was very basic and way cool with a handle or lever under the dash? Somebody out there must know how it worked, right?

MG1
New Driver

Correction: The '67 Camaro RS had electric motors with limit switches to operate the headlight doors. '68 and '69 used vacuum.

qkrslvr
Passenger

How could you ignore the Corvette, which had hide away headlights for many years and is still revered by collectors.

butternut63nova
Passenger

no corvettes ?

oilbrnr
Pit Crew

C'mon guys.  No NA Miata?  Only pop ups.  

Sparksmith
New Driver

Excellent choices. But, the 1969 Riviera will always have a special place in my heart. Those vacuum powered doors would occasionally only open one at a time, allowing me to "wink" at passersby. 

GAFFR
New Driver

My 1988 Nissan 300ZX has "eyelids" as well.

MainelyStu
Passenger

How could you fail to include the Lotus Elan?

carreransx
New Driver

Acura NSX

ed1
Passenger

Cord Model 810/812 1936 that’s first one I’m aware of!

Carthropology
New Driver

Theres a great video report on the 1967 Cadillac Eldorado and its hidden headlights... It also touches on other features like auto dimming sensors built in to the system. https://youtu.be/6a_fyPXpE3U

Too_Many_Cars
New Driver

I suppose , these are just , fun, quick mentions, but to group the first gen Camaro's as all the same is totally erroneous. The '67 had ELECTRIC doors, where the '68 came out with the, not so well functioning, vacuum doors, hence the "bars" on the '69. Those bars weren't for "appearance", they were modified from '68 to allow some light for people to see and be seen when the doors failed to open. Between those bars are screens for that function. You can see the headlight thru the doors. And yes, I like the Cougar and Charger cars, even though I own the first and best Camaro...1967... only year with vent windows and no side markers 🙂

Ray48
New Driver

How could you forget the original Lotus Elan?  Has there been a more beautiful sports car?  Apparently the designers of the Miata thought not.

Crocetti
Passenger

I have to say my favorite was the 1966 Toronado.  Also - the 1936 Cord.  A great list by the way!

smvolgs
Passenger

What about the C2 & C3 Corvette?  How about the 68 & 69 Chevy Caprice?

Smith_S_C
Passenger

How could you possibly skip the Cord 810 and 812 models?

Patented on June 15, 1937, they came out on the 1936 810.

smseymour
New Driver

Of those listed here, the  67 Mercury Cougar.  One of the most handsome vehicles that ever came from Dearborn.  Among all the "pony cars" its front end is the most stately, and the hidden lights make it more so. 

4wheel2wheel
Pit Crew

Cord 810, 1968 Chrysler 300, Saab Sonnet, Toyota 2000 GT, Nissan 300 ZX, first generation Mazda MX-5. Some cars look better with them open and some, with them closed.

Correction, the Toyota 2000 GT did not have concealed headlamps but the MR-2 did.

ppointer
Intermediate Driver

Every one of these cars is still striking in appearance, in my opinion.  Wish I could pick a favorite. 

 

I had MkII and MkIII Supras that didn't make the list, but I don't think it is wrong to leave out all of those 80's cars with hideaways....

kmfdm
Passenger

psst , 67 camaros were electric , I know I own one

Bob143
New Driver

You forgot the Cord. Hideaway headlights, hideaway top

Sonettman
New Driver

For me it's the 1970 - 1974 Saab Sonett III. Headlights sleek with the hood and a mechanical linkage to pop them up. No failed vacuum servos with one light up and one light down.

AJD
New Driver

The '85 Nissan 300zx was also adorned with partially hidden headlights.  Mine still revealed enough glass to catch a few stone chips from all the pick-up trucks sharing the roads of Texas.  Then there's the Miata... thus the styling cue continues.

Syke
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.

Syke
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.

OCULUSNY
Intermediate Driver

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....

Bruold
New Driver

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

camarogirl57
Pit Crew

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!

jimbacot
Passenger

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. 

2005E55ANG
New Driver

Lamborghini Jarama