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OEM-style Integra aftermarket headlights: the good, the bad, and the ugly + swapping OEM to clear lens

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  • OEM-style Integra aftermarket headlights: the good, the bad, and the ugly + swapping OEM to clear lens

    In an effort to get the best results possible with my Integra HID retrofit upgrade (E55's -> Morimoto D2S 5.0), I needed new headlight lenses. The old ones were super deteriorated, with lots of crazing and spider cracks in the plastic. They were just too far gone to restore. So I decided to pick up a set of OEM-replica headlights, in hopes that the lenses would fit the OEM housings. It's looking like they're going to fit great. But in the process of tearing the new headlights apart and doing some testing, I discovered a few things.

    First, the good. The front of the headlights look SUPER NICE. The lenses look 100% OEM, aside from the lack of the HONDA logo, and crystal clear. I baked the headlights to soften the sealant (thankfully, regular butyl and not permaseal), and lined them up on the stock headlight housings. Looks like they're going to fit great.







    Now, the bad. These aftermarket headlights are noticeably heavier than OEM. The rear rubber seals are nothing like OEM, and the plastic bulb retainer rings are terrible quality. They didn't even put the proper flat head screws in the retainer rings. I had to remove one screw just to get the 9006 bulb harness to fit.

    This shows the bulb in the aftermarket light up top, and I started to remove one of the OEM flat head screws but it would not have been a direct swap. Second pic shows how the screws interfere with the harness attaching to the plug. Really, really bad design.





    After opening up the lights I saw why they were so heavy. The OEM lights use an aluminum inner structure, with the front half of the projector cast in as a 1-piece unit to the whole assembly, similar to S2000 headlights. These aftermarket projectors try to replicate the shape of the OEM aluminum "guts" with thick steel bent to shape, in multiple pieces. The projector is actually completely separate, and itself is quite heavy. There's a bubble level similar to OEM, but it's just laughable as it was warped. This steel assembly might be easier to do a retrofit on than the OEM aluminum, but I didn't want to mess with it. The adjustment screws aren't great, the pivot piece isn't great, and the whole weight of the assembly caused the projector to sag down on the adjustment screws.

    I also noticed that the cutoff shield, which itself is a little odd being chromed, has no step at all, and the edge is slightly curved upwards.







    And now for the ugly. The beam pattern. omg the beam pattern is so, so bad. Compare this to the OEM halogen projector beam pattern after this. This and all forthcoming beam shots are from about 15 feet from the garage door.



    So after all this messing around, I noticed that these aftermarket headlights have clear lenses on the projectors. Crystal clear. So I tried swapping the OEM frosted projector lens out with one of these, and WOW!!! Massively improved sharpness and clarity, and a nice gain in color at the cutoff edge! I even tried spacing out the lens slightly. I cut 2 rings out of index cards, for a total spacer thickness of 0.35 mm. But in reality I think it could go as much as 1.0mm and get some benefit before going out of focus on the cutoff.

    The stock lens is about 78mm diameter and 30mm thick. The clear lens from these aftermarket units are also 78mm diameter but about 33mm thick.

    I was really impressed by how much the beam pattern changed with the lens swap. Also, notice how much wider the beam pattern is compared to the aftermarket projector's beam pattern above. And this was just with a stock 9006 bulb. I wish I had a light meter to get some actual output data readings. I bet these would be really nice with some 9012 HIR bulbs.

    So if someone didn't want to cut up their OEM projector assemblies, but didn't mind spending $200 on new aftermarket headlights, and opening up their stock headlights, these new, fresh lenses and the clear lens swap would be a nice upgrade to the Integra OEM headlight assemblies.









    Stock projector lens:


    Aftermarket projector clear lens swap onto OEM projector housing:


    Closeup shots:


    ​​​​​​​

    1994 BG-33P Paradise Blue Integra GS-R
    Full 98+ conversion
    Morimoto D2S 5.0 bi-xenon projectors

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