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C5 Corvette FX-35 Retro with Pop-up Mod

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  • C5 Corvette FX-35 Retro with Pop-up Mod

    I have been a lurker on this forum for many years, I joined back in 2007 and my first post was just yesterday. There is just soo much info here that I never needed to post anything, or ask a question. I was astonished to see my vette in the retrofitsource banner. I know I sent a couple photos to them back in 07 when I bought clear lenses for my FX projectors, but I never thought they would use them. I feel honored.

    Anyway.. I thought I would describe my retro since I think it is pretty different from what most other people have done.

    As most of you know, C5 corvettes have pop up headlights, and the stock lights are terrible. I wanted to upgrade but did not know exactly what I wanted to do. My g/f said I should keep the pop-up functionality, but I was leaning toward a fixed mounting setup. A friend of mine suggested that I mod the lights so they only open far enough to let the lense peak out, and after I got that idea I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

    My first problem was to figure out how to make the lights only open part way. My first solution was to move one of the mounting points down and out to change the geometry of the opening arm.
    In the picture below you can see the plastic piece that i used. This turned out to be a terrible idea, because the plastice eventualy broke as I was driving over some railroad tracks. Also, it caused terrible bounce which drove me crazy. The pictures still serves to show how the headlights on a vette open.

    My second (current and much better) plan was to change the length of the rotating and push arm. I did a little algebra and was able to calculate exactly how much to change each arm. Arm 1 is the push arm which was shortened, and arm 2 rotates, and the rotation length needed to be changed so that the lights closed in the same position, but opened half way. I don't have a picture of this set up.. but I think you get the idea.

    Now onto the lights. I bought a set of OEM FX-35 projectors off ebay, they came with OEM Philips bulbs and a 35w Matsushita ballasts.
    All the stock mounting hardware for the headlights was destroyed when I took it apart, this was not my plan, I planed to try and use some of it, it just didn't work out that way.
    To house the projectors I used a piece of 4 inch PVC pipe with caps at both ends. The lens stuck out one end and the ballast was mounted to the other. A FX-35 projector does not actually fit in a 4 inch PVC pipe, so I cut holes in the pipe to let it stick out some and then patched the areas with fiberglass. The projector is also toward the top of the pipe to get the lens as high as possible.

    Then to mount the PVC tube to the car, we used a piece of galvanized steel that had an angle on one edge for strength. We cut a hole just big enough for the pipe to fit through and 3 mounting holes to bolt the system to the car. We used a 2 part epoxy to glue the PVC to the steel mount. Then I painted the whole set up black and put the old shroud back on.
    A the time that was as good as I knew how to do, the lenses were exposed, but the the system was water proof and since the lights are down most of the time I wasn't worried about the lenses getting hurt.

    Now onto the shrouds. This was my first attempt and body work and any work with fiberglass that needed to look good. I was able to modify the shroud that went around the stock lights and moved the bottom pieces of plastic up so it lined up with the front bumper when the lights were up.

    The i found that a cap to a spray can was very close to the same size and my lens so I used it as a mold. I positioned the cap with hot glue and then used close hanger wire to mold the rest of the shroud. I then pulled a t-shirt over it and covered everything in fiberglass resin.

    Then I bondo'ed and painted the shroud.

    I know it probably isn't the best shroud you have ever seen, and it was my first time, plus you can only see them when the lights are on, which is at night. The main purpose of the shrouds is to force air around the lights instead of under the covers and into the car. At hight speed (approximately 140+) the air pressure can break the mounting tabs, which just have to be glued back on.

    And there you have it....

    One of these days I might remake the shroud with a clear cover to protect the lenses, and maybe add a Audi style LED strip of something, but for now, the system works amazing and is water tight.

    This project also served as a great project to work on with my dad. Many of the idea's I used were his and his help was invaluable.

    More pics of the car...

  • #2
    wow alot of work but it looks great. nice pics too


    • #3
      Another very very cool project! LOVE IT!
      2001 CCS (Euro Conversion)
      FX-R DDM-50W DL50 R8-LEDs
      2K4 Mercury Monterey FX-R Retro
      2K1 CCS (Euro Conversion) FX-R Retro
      FOG Comparison: Micro DE, Blazer, Bosch Mini


      • #4
        I got to say alot of thought went into that and it shows but you should definetly get something to protect the lens from the elements and bugs and everything on the road especially since your car is low. I would be very weary to drive on roads were rocks and stuff could be kicked up and break or screw up your projector. Nevermind, its a vette so just blow pastem and dont stop. Nonetheless good job on the retro and very nice pics too.
        2008 aveo5
        85122+ Bulbs
        35w ddm ballast

        TL retro soon to come


        • #5
          your c5 looks awesome, nice job on the retrofit... At first I thought that your headlight popping up half way sounded kinda dumb, but finished it looks badass

          1996 Ford Bronco - Morimoto Gen 3 H1 / 3Five Ballasts / Morimoto 5000K H1 / Generic 9007 harness
          2004 Mercury Marauder - Morimoto FX-R 1.1 / 3Five Ballasts / Osram Xenarc 66240 CBI / TRS HD 9007 harness
          1985 BMW 745i - ECE Halogens Woo Hoo


          • #6
            It would look BA if you had dual projectors in each light
            There are two kinds of light - the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures. -James Thurber

            1998 Ford F-150 | FX-R 2.1 / Philips 85122XV C1 / Matsushita Gen5 | Philips LumiLEDs | Plasmaglow Fire & Ice


            • #7
              Well thanks for posting! My buddy has a C5 vert and I was telling him of your retrofit but when I searched I found nothing...until now that is. Great job on your retro. Looks nice!
              2008 Nissan Altima Coupe 3.5


              • #8
                That is exactly how I have always want to see someone do a corvette retro. Nice work!! Not to mention that it would be a leap and bound improvement over the stock lighting.


                • #9
                  Nice work! That's a proper retro on a c5.


                  • #10
                    You should do the C5-R headlight with projectors in them. That would look amazing.


                    • #11
                      Thanks for the nice words

                      The difference in light output was amazing. When I lived in Rapid City, SD I did a lot of night driving in the hills and the light output was perfect.

                      The biggest issue with the popup was the bounce, and it took me almost 2 years to finally completely get rid of it.

                      It would look BA if you had dual projectors in each light
                      I really wanted to do that but I barely had enough room for the one FX projector. I could probably fit a couple Mini's in there, but I don't think it would be worth it. There are some guys in Germany who designed a system that only popped up half way, and they used a dual projector set up, but they used crappy projectors, 1 FX is definatly better than 2 crappy projectors.

                      I do think I will end up going to a 50w set up this summer though.


                      • #12
                        super nice looking retro there man. the half way popup looks mean. really nice pictures too.


                        • #13
                          I would like to see more output pictures. I bet the cut-off is SUPER sharp and there is zero glare because there is no lens in front of the projector to distort the output. I wish that I could do that with my car.


                          • #14
                            Wow that looks amazing good work!


                            • #15
                              amazing, i really like it