Hidden Headlights Are The Raddest Automotive Fad

Illustration for article titled Hidden Headlights Are The Raddest Automotive Fad
Screenshot: Practical Car Guy on YouTube

Pop-up headlights have been dead for 16 years, but enthusiasm for cars with hideaway lights has never been stronger. If you need proof of that, look no further than this group of five drivers. Bored with quarantine, and looking to socially distance in a group, these SoCal car folks headed for the Angeles Crest Highway, as one does. Three Japanese cars, one American, and one German with almost nothing in common, except that their headlights could be lowered into the bumper.


There isn’t a boring car among these five, and it’s amazing how truly disparate they are. There’s a V8 rear-wheel drive American, a turbocharged four-cylinder rear wheel drive German, and Japanese cars representing the naturally aspirated, turbocharged, FWD, AWD, RWD, front engine and mid-engine camps. So different, and yet all brought together in one common appreciation of a bygone era of automotive design and enthusiasm.

Though they be different, these cars are all quite analog by today’s standards and provide a connection between driver and road you won’t find in many cars today. These cars are all relatively simple to maintain and repair for the average wrench. These cars have all cycled back to the top of the cool curve again. These cars all prove that Rad Era enthusiasm is still alive and well.

While many of us are still spending much of our time at home, it’s nice to occasionally get out and meet responsibly with friends. Keep your distance from others, stay masked up when you have to get close, and stay in the fresh air. Don’t share rides together, take your own cars. It looks like these guys did a pretty good job of following the “rules”, and if we want any semblance of car culture to return in real life, we should all follow this kind of example. Maybe a group drive with walkie-talkies could give you the community engagement you’re looking for.

I know these people, and have seen all of their cars before. In fact, I co-own the high-mileage 944 Turbo with Ethan featured in the video. They’re all great representatives of the community, and I’m glad they’re able to get out and enjoy their vehicles in these truly messed up times. And because of it, we get to tag along virtually and learn a thing or two about pop-up headlights, and the cars they’re attached to.

The world has changed, both in terms of automotive design, and how we’re able to interact with other community members. Its great to see that some people are keeping the flame alive in a relatively responsible fashion.

Jalopnik contributor with a love for everything sketchy and eclectic.



I always assume that anyone who “loves” popup or hideaway headlights never had to troubleshoot and try to keep working the vacuum actuated hideaways like were on my family ‘68 Galaxy XL (which became my older brother’s car when he turned 16). The grill panels were forever sticking and the vacuum hoses would rot in the heat (NW Oklahoma) and get gnawed on by critters so we were forever chasing down leaks in the damn headlights. I’ve since had cars with “good” functional popups but never really liked them.

This pic is of the same year and body style, but supposedly this one has the 460 whereas ours had the lowly 390 and was white.  On the plus side, my dog loved to sleep on top of it.