Ok, this is gonna be one of those boring, ubur car nerd posts, feel free to skip this one if you’re not into learning about the differences between US DOT exterior car lighting standards and European ECE regulations. Wooo-boy, we’re in for a barn-burner tonight!
You can’t really tell, but that light is all kinds of droopy!
So, when I bought the Saab I noticed that the passenger side headlamp was droopy, as if someone punched my car in the face, droopy. Apparently this is a common issue on US market cars, on account of an extra (even for Saab) fiddly “engineering.” In addition to being prone to the googly-eyed thing, the stock headlamps throw light about as well as ole Socks Siebold (ed – I had some help on that one). Seeing as I live in the city and don’t do a lot of night driving, I wasn’t too concerned about the poor performance of the headlights. I figured I’ve got fogs and have a set of Hella auxiliary lamps I’ve been meaning to install because faux rally-racecar pretensions are cool.
Getting things apart is the easy part…
Nevertheless, the lack of symmetry was driving me nuts. And I wasn’t about to break a perfectly good headlamp on the driver’s side just to match. So for the last few months I’ve been on the look-out for a replacement headlamp assembly. A few weeks back I was over at my second home, ABJ auto parts in scenic Somerville, MA and I offhandedly asked my
bookie parts guy if he had a replacement lamp in stock. Low and behold he does! He gives me a very fair and deeply discounted price and I leave a happy man and a few hundos lighter. The following week I’m down a Jim’s doing body work on the old girl (more to come on that!) and while I’m taking a break from breathing in harmful chemicals and having another beer and I figure, hey good time to take care of that light.
Here comes Zo to save me from myself…
So in it goes, and good old Zo (bless his heart) is there to make sure I don’t really hurt myself; meanwhile Jim is off saying something in the background about mission creep and that getting distracted with the light is folly, or something like that, I was mostly ignoring him. We go to connect the light and notice the connectors don’t match and the housing is different from the light we removed. Taking a closer look at the light it dawns on us that what we’re holding in our hot little hands is a genuine e-code lamp! Groovy!
The difference in clarity of glass is really stark, and its not just a feature of age and wear. These promise to be better and brighter.
So what’s an e-code? Well, the long and the short of it is an e-code is just a better headlamp because of the reflector style, bulb type and the fact that’s its European and we all know that things that are European are better! If you really want to know . Of course, any car guy (or gal!) worth their salt knows that European/better = more cash. All I was looking for was a damned mediocre US light to replace my droopy eyes, not to get pulled into a rabbit hole of e-code headlights, and yet here I am. So the new light went in, sans the 9003 bulb. I call up ABJ and I’m now another hundo lighter and the proud owner of a second, matching e-code for the driver’s side. I’ll hopefully get the second light in this weekend and wired up and all that jazz. And that kids, is how I invested too much money into an old, broke ass Saab and why we’re living in it.