Filling in Fiberglass Headlight Covers | Project Elva Sports Racer

There were 30 Elva MK VIs built. Of those, only a handful were endurance raced. By rule, any endurance racer at the time would have run headlights. Once we stripped down our car, we found evidence of headlight buckets. Some examples of how others did it back in the day. 

Headlights could have been gracefully designed and cut in, as you can see by the photos above, or just stuck on. Sadly, every photo that we have of our car at Sebring shows the headlights crudely covered. As a result, we cannot see exactly how the headlights were added. 

In order to give our Elva the headlights that it originally wore, we set out duplicate the setups found on other cars of the period. 

While measuring and test fitting, we quickly saw that a standard 7-inch headlight bucket was not going to clear the front tires. We would need to find some vintage 5¾-inch headlight buckets and lights. J.R. at GMT Racing came to the rescue and sent us some of these smaller headlights that he had removed from a race car from this period. 

Our original plan was to just cut the headlight buckets into the fiberglass and design and fabricate the front of the bodywork to accept these headlights. Once we got into the front fender area, we realized two things: First, this area was so badly damaged that we would have to start over before cutting in headlight buckets and, second, the left and right front fenders were not even–either they came from the factory this way or it was due to the original headlight bucket installation. Remember, this car was flown over just days before the 1962 Sebring race, and the headlights were probably an afterthought that quickly had to be installed before race day.

So, we decided we would just fill the headlight areas with multiple layers of glass, sanding and grinding until it looked original and both sides were even.

Then and only then could we start the process of properly installing headlights. As you can see from the finished repair, we are now ready to start the headlight installation.

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wspohn SuperDork
1/5/21 10:53 a.m.

One solution might have been to glass in some 5 3/4" bucket mounts and cover the whole with a plexi cover as they did on cars like my Jamaican.



Otherwise, all the Lucas 576 series lights were that size and you could even get the lights with snazzy chrome bullets in the centre:


My Jensen CV-8 had two large headlights and two 5 3/4" high beams but that's probably not the look you were going for.  I think that your solution looks very nice.  But I think it would have looked very Chevron B16 with the lights as well.

RacerJ New Reader
1/5/21 11:44 a.m.

How about pictures from the sister Sebring car?  They show a bit of a lip at the top, and I can just make out the outline of the whole thing that seems to match the shape on your car.  And the protruding part sure seems to match the taped over lights on the pictures of your car.




RacerJ New Reader
1/6/21 5:12 p.m.

On re-reading your post, I see that you found the buckets would hit the tires.  Maybe that's exactly why the factory (or whomever put the lights in, if it was Haas) had them sitting up like that.  Come on, do it the "right" way.  As much as those fenders might look nice with Ferrari/Jaguar esque lights, that doesn't appear to match.

Kubotai New Reader
1/8/21 11:46 a.m.

In reply to RacerJ :

That is the same look that appeared on their #74 car.  For other photos, see my post in their thread on finding old pictures of their Elva.



Kubotai New Reader
1/8/21 11:58 a.m.

Here is another shot of their car and of the sister car showing the 'bump' at the top of the headlight.


RacerJ New Reader
1/8/21 6:35 p.m.

In reply to Kubotai :

You sure bridged gap with your first picture confirming he had the same lights as all the pictures in 73.  In case it helps Tim find the right parts, since this was a Haas car, it also could be that Haas added the lights.  So, it could be that US sourced lights might have been used.  Of course, I don't know what 1950s/60s cars in the US were running around with covered headlights!

RacerJ New Reader
1/9/21 6:17 p.m.

Looks like we have a pretty darn good match here, and on a 1963 lightweight factory supported ELVA!


Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
1/13/21 12:31 p.m.

Wow, you guys found pictures that I hadn't seen. This is very helpful!

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