’32 Update: Tail Light Install (article 4, archived)

Here is article 4 of the ’32 build, originally published June 6/07.

It took a while, but we finally decided which taillights we’re going to use. You may not like them. This isn’t your car. This is our car. There are so many different taillights on the market now- for traditional there’s the ’38/9 Ford “teardrop” lights, the ’42-’48 Ford lights, the ’37 Ford bullet shaped lights, and then there’s ’50 Pontiac lights. The new ones have a shorter bucket, a glass lens, and the bulb is centered for optimal visibility. Safety is highest on our list of priorities for building this car, along with keeping a common theme. LED taillights, for instance, would not suit this car. ’39 Ford lights don’t fit well below the deck lid on a coupe without cutting into the bottom body line. Plus, we think the Pontiac lights look darn good. Here’s how we installed them.

tail light mount
Once we decided what taillights to use, we had to decide how far out from the center to mount them. We thought that mounting them too far ‘in’ would make the car look thin and tall. There was only so far that we could go ‘out’ before the body curves too much and they would appear the opposite of cross-eyed. The resting spot was decided- in line with the outside edges of the rear window frame. We also needed to center them top-to-bottom. This was done by applying masking tape to the approximate area the taillights would end up in, and then measuring from the trunk lip to the top of the rear body line. We “eyeballed” the light, trying to get it as close to an imaginary line straight down from the outside edge of the rear window. When it looked right, we measured over from the side of the trunk and repeated that dimension on the passenger side. The long horizontal line is so that the mounting holes can be on the same line.

tail light mount
Here I’m measuring the mounting hole position. You’ll want to do this before you drill the hole for the light so you still have a center. We used a meter (or yard) stick to draw the horizontal line – it conforms to the curve of the body.


The moment of truth. Did I do it right? Tune in next week to find out! Or just look at the next picture.


Looks pretty good to me. The lights make it look nice and low.

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