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Project Lucas, Brake Light Upgrade

Just a quick update. Since people weren’t being asphyxiated when following me anymore, they had a tendency to sit on my bumper now. I wanted to make it a bit more obvious I was braking, so they wouldn’t become one with my bumper.

The brake lights (and tail lights, for that matter) on the SD1 kinda suck. I guess they were OK for the time, but these days where everything is bigger, faster and worse, they’re small and hard to notice.

The standard brake lights use just the two outer red sections of the lamp units. They don’t really stand out and could be mistaken for tail lights.

The tail lights use an even smaller section inboard of the brake lights

I previously fitted halogen upgraded bulbs to the tail lights so they were brighter, and feel that’s enough for rearward visibility. Some people have fitted dual filament bulbs to the fog lamps so they do double duty as brake and tail lights.

To upgrade the brake lights I had two ideas. One was to fit a high-level stop light at the top of the tailgate glass, so higher vehicles could see it easier. The second was to change the massive rear fog light sections near the number plate, to act as additional brake lights.

The first one was easy enough. Clean the glass, and stick on a suitably retro high stop lamp. Due to the super flat angle of the rear glass, getting a high stop light that works properly is a real pain. This one is adjustable for angle, and even then it only just works.

The one benefit it has is that the higher you are behind the car, the brighter the light is (and the less visible the lower standard brake lights will be).

To wire this in I just ran the wires down the C pillar under the rubber seal, and tapped into the RH brake light 12v feed, and ground. Easy.

The next one required some fettling. Because in NZ we don’t need rear fog lamps, I’m OK to eliminate that functionality, which makes this job a lot easier.

All I did was unplug the 12v feed to the fog lamp bulbs and run a short jumper wire from the 12v brake light wire to the positive terminal on the (ex)fog lamp bulb holder. Done.

It’s completely reversible, and since I swapped the fog lamp bulbs to LED bulbs, the extra load on the brake light circuit should be minimal.

Here’s a quick comparison of the stock brake light setup, and the modified setup, with and without tail lights on.

Some might say having 5 brake lights on the back of the car is excessive, but I disagree. It’s still nowhere near as bright as the LED brake lights on the Honda, but should draw attention to the fact that I’m braking a lot better than the original setup.

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