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Euro Ellipsoid Headlight Install
Euro Ellipsoid Headlight Install
One of the most popular upgrades to the E30 headlights is to swap in the European-Spec Ellipsoidal headlights. The sealed-beam lights that most E30's came with are adequate for use in the city, but do not provide nearly enough light in dark mountain / rural environments. On top of that, they are unattractive both in themselves & in the ~2800K light they put out. A simple upgrade is to swap in some Hella H4 units. I used them myself for a long time and they were excellent units for the price they sell for. More can be found on them HERE.
The Euro-Spec lights put out slightly more light then the H4 units and US-Spec Ellip's. If you have H4's then these are probably not worth the $300+ for the upgrade. I have read that the Euro-Ellip's have greater brightness & a wider pattern than the US ones and may be worth it. I lucked-out and paid $100 for the Euro Ellipís and was able to sell my old H4's for almost as much. The Ellipsoid units also allow for the proper use of HID lights should you go that route. The Euro-Ellip's are a VERY worthwhile upgrade from your stock sealed beams.
The following write-up is for people converting from sealed-beams to Euro-Ellip's. There may be some slight differences for those with US-Ellip's, but this should still work as I do cover the necessary changes in procedure.
Some Euro Ellipsoid kits do not come with the connectors or caps for the high beam. If these parts are not already present, they will need to be purchased (parts with the * after them).
Medium Phillips Screwdriver
Small Flat-Blade Screwdriver
Dykes (Wire Cutters)
Wire Strippers/Crimpers
Heat Gun (optional, but recommended)
Required Parts
1 set of European Spec Ellipsoidal Headlights
2 x High Beam Caps* [PN 63-12-1-381-190]
4 x Wire Terminals* (Item #1 in first link below) for City Lights
8 x 90deg Wire Terminals* (Item #3 in first link below) for Hi/Lo Beams
2 x Connector Housing* (Item #5 in second link below) for City Lights
2 x YELLOW Connector Housing* (Item #6 [PN 61-13-1-378-419] in second link below) for Lo-Beams
2 x WHITE Connector Housing* (Item #6 [PN 61-13-1-378-417] in second link below) for Hi-Beams
12 Crimp Splice Connectors for 14-16ga wire
4 pairs of spade connectors (optional)
An assortment of Heat Shrink Tubing (Alternatively you can use electrical tape, it is just messier if you ever change the wiring).
The headlight wires are color coded as follows:
Brown - All grounds
White/Blue - Passenger Side High Beam Positive
Yellow/Blue - Passenger Side Low Beam Positive
White/Purple - Driver Side High Beam Positive
Yellow/Purple - Driver Side Low Beam Positive
Purple/White - Passenger Side Marker Positive
Purple/Yellow - Driver Side Marker Positive
Begin by removing the two screws at the bottom of the grilles. Next remove the three clips from the tops of each grille section. They just pull straight up & off. Make SURE the car is completely off. The headlights should be off & do not have the car in accessory mode (yes I know, I like to listen to the radio too while I work, but not during electrical stuff). Remove the plastic shields behind the headlights. You may need to remove the air box to get at these, or just do a bunch of shimmying. Unplug the headlight connectors. Remove the three large screws holding the headlight buckets in place and carefully pull out the assemblies.
NOTE: The connectors I received with my headlights were slightly damaged (they were the original ones from the donor car). The wires' insulation was slightly pulled back from the connector, exposing the cores. I added some smaller shrink tubing up around the connector to build it up, added some slightly larger tubing that ran up onto each side of the connector (red tubing) and ran a large diameter piece over it all for strength. This is not really necessary unless you have damaged connectors.
Now here is the point of no return. Cut the old connectors off, leaving maybe 2" of wire on them should you ever need to put them back. If you have sealed beams there will be three wires on the low-beam. The third wire (the white & blue/purple ones) is for the second filament for the high beam and can be capped & sealed. Either tape / cap & tape or cap & heat shrink the ends for safety. If you have the original connectors, the wires will all match in color with those in the car. Just match up the browns (grounds) and the other colored wires. On the high-beams, just twist both ends of the white wires together (if there are 2 as there are on sealed-beam cars). One runs off to the one you capped on the low beams, but do not bother wrecking the wire wrappings trying to remove it.
NOTE: I would recommend testing each connector after you crimp it in place. It is a good idea so that you will know if you make a mistake before you splice everything else.
If you had to purchase the wiring and connectors separately, the wire coloring may not match the factory wiring. Pull off the back caps on the lights and trace the brown wires (browns are grounds) & make sure that you know which wire is the ground when you assemble the connectors. Be absolutely SURE that the grounds are matched up properly before crimping the connections. Put the crimp connectors on the car's existing wires first, and attach the connectors later when ready.
Before crimping the connectors to your factory lighting, be sure to put adequate lengths of shrink tubing on the wires. Crimp the wires, then slide the tubing over the connectors & shrink it to seal them better. You can also just wrap them in electrical tape. That should take care of the connectors for the low & high beams. Next up is the tricky part: wiring the city-lights.
To do this, you will need to find the wires that run to the side markers. Use the small flat-blade screwdriver to pry out the marker. Stick the blade in the small notch in the front of the outer cover, and pry back & out. The bulb mount twists out of the rest of the marker. Just tug gently at the wire and look behind where the headlights used to be to see which wire set is moving. It should be the pair covered with the smooth, loose insulation. The three wrapped in fabric tape are for the front markers and should be left alone. Just chop the two wires, being sure to leave about equal lengths on each half. Do not allow the bulb to pull into the bumper without tying a string to it first. Getting it out is a chore. Strip the ends, wrapping the brown ends together & the other 2 ends together. Add a crimp splice to these. Next, take 1' - 2' of your 16ga wire and crimp it into the other end of the connector.
Tape or shrink wrap the crimp connection. If you have the male connector for the city lights then just crimp that onto the other end of the extension wire (be sure you know which is ground & positive) and seal it. If you do not have the connector then cut the city light wires and splice them onto the extensions. This is not recommended. I would suggest using spade connectors instead at these intersections.
NOTE: The male city light connector is the same as that for the 1989+ fog lights. If you can find one at a wrecker then you are set.
Yes, you have completed the hard part. Now install the Euro Ellip's in place of your old ones and replace all of the other things you removed. Be sure to plug in the lights as well! Turn them on & enjoy! Be sure to read on to the next paragraph for the final instructions.
Conclusions & Results
After installing these lights I did notice that the beam pattern was wider then that of the H4's, and there was more light output. Had I gone from sealed-beams to these directly, I would have noticed a far more dramatic difference. Nevertheless I am very pleased with these. They look very trick and leave me the option of installing HID bulbs/ballasts in the future. These were worth every penny. I am using Osram Silverstar bulbs as the lows and Phillips Vision Plus for the high's, and am very pleased with them. The Silverstars put out light of about 4100K. It is a near-HID output color (HID's start at 4500K). There are various HID color temperatures (4500K up to 12000K). 4500K provides the MOST visibility. The lights themselves will have a purplish hue when on and spread white light. I will cover HID lights in another article.
There are two versions of these lights out there. The most well known Euro Ellip's are the "smilies." They have a black arc under the center ellipsoid projector on the low beams. It is said to help focus light on the ground better immediately in front of the car. Unfortunately, this light is not helping the driver much as it is right in front of the car. The ones I installed are the other version, the "not smiling" lights. They are both Euro-Spec lights. There are just two versions of them, and one does not outperform the other.
One other addition performed with the Euro light upgrade was the installation of Euro grilles. The difference between the US and Euro-spec units is subtle, but can add to the look. The tops of the Euro grilles are solid, forming an "eyebrow," that can give the front a little more character. There are also very minute differences in the spacing & length of the horizontal runners on the grilles. Take a look at the picture to see for yourself.
DISCLAIMER: I take no responsibility (and thus I cannot be held responsible) for damages and/or injuries caused by attempting the procedures outlined on this site. The information provided is to be used at the reader's discretion and all necessary safety precautions requiring emplacement (mentioned or not) are the responsibility of the reader.