I suspect we take for granted just how amazing modern headlights are. They’re bright, precise, and each and every car can have ones custom-designed to fit just the right shape. We live in a golden age of light. But some of us remember a much darker time. And I think there’s just one vehicle left that remembers, too.


Before Ford really leaned on the government to amend headlight standards in 1983, there were only two options for headlights on cars sold in the US: round or square. And even the rectangular ones were pretty recent as well, only being permitted since 1974. Europeans had been enjoying glass-covered and interestingly shaped lights for years, but here in the US, Uncle Killjoy said we could only have two basic kinds.

Sure, it was boring, and sad to see how so many European cars got their eyes mangled on the way over here (Citröen SM, I’m sorry), but there was something to be said for being able to buy new lights for your car pretty much anywhere, anytime. Try buying a new set of headlights at midnight in a grocery store for your 2012 BMW 7-series.

Those days are long gone, as are many of the cars that used these two universal lights. Except one. I may be wrong, but I think that the GMC Savana Cargo Van (well, and its Chevy badge-brother) is the last remaining mass-market vehicle you can buy that comes with plain (rectangular, in this case) sealed beam headlights as standard.


I’d like to know if this is true. Does anyone know of any others? Is this humble workhorse van the last holdout? Let me know in the comments there!