Introduction: Rat Rod Facelift LED Headlights

About: Fixer, Finder, Fabricator. I teach engineering to high school students, at St Marys Secondary College in Nathalia VIC Australia

Some years ago I bought a 1979 Toyota Hilux which was a bit of a wreck and over the years I've slowly modified the vehicle and its now starting to look like a Ratrod.

Here is a list of the Mods so far.

  • It had a Four speed gearbox, which was noisy so I replaced it with a 5 speed from a Toyota Celica The swap was straightforward but the cross member had to be modified and the hole for the gearstick had to be move back. So the old hole was filled in and a new hole cut out. The bell housing from the Hilux bolted straight on the Celica gearbox and fitted to the engine. The speedo was way out after this swap but more on that later.
  • Once the noisy gearbox was fixed I could now hear the whine in the differential and I pulled it apart and discover that it had water in it and was pretty much beyond repair. I could not find another Hilux diff at the time and I didn't like the ratio of 4.8 which made the engine scream on the highway. After A trip to the wreckers, I brought home a complete differential with brakes and everything from a Datsun 260c Also known as a Nissan Cedric. The diff housing is very close to the same width about an inch wider, the stud pattern is the same but you have to use the Nissan wheel nuts. It sat on the springs without too much of a fight and the brake pipe is in the same spot and bolted straight up. I made a flange to bolt to the drive shaft to the diff pinion as the holes did not line up. The only other thing was the handbrake which was a pain but now it hooked up also. The Nissan diff has a ratio of 3.9 which is much more pleasant and the speedo now is accurate, as the ratio is the same at the Celica that I snagged the gearbox from.
  • When I bought the Hilux It had no seat, so I pulled a pair of seats and carpets from a 1999 Hilux and fitted them to the truck. One of the seat mounts on each side did not fit so had a hole had to be drilled into the floor to make them fit.
  • The Hilux also had no wheels when I bought it, so I've fitted 15" wheels from a Mitsubishi Magna and painted them black with a red band. This may change in the future if I can find something better.
  • Now for the headlights the are a LED kit from a Jeep and it the subject of this Instructable so read on.

Step 1: Stuff You Will Need

So I'm looking at the front of my Hilux and i got to thinking about how much the front look like crap, mostly because of the square headlights. The headlights are so dim anyway that it hardly worth turning them on at night, so might as well fix the both issues at the same time.

After a bit of research, I found that this model Hilux came out with both round and square headlights and the round ones are 7 inches the same size as the headlights in many old vehicles, and the same as a Jeep Wrangler. The cool thing is that there are lots of aftermarket LED headlights for the Jeep and they shouldn't be too difficult to fit.

List of parts

Step 2: Tear Down and Paint

Tear down was very easy, the bumper had to come off so the headlight surrounds could be removed and while everything was off might as well give it a lick of satin black paint.

As I was pulling the headlight buckets off it became apparent that someone had done some repairs on the front of the truck at some stage, as there were broken bolts and I would say that this vehicle had round headlight fitted from the factory and someone had fitted square headlights to it.

I gave the grill a sand and clean and painted the headlight surrounds, grill and radiator panel.

Step 3: Wiring

The wiring is a bit tricky as on the Toyota you can't just plug in the LED headlights and expect it to work. As LEDs will not work if the polarity is reversed and Toyota uses an odd wiring set up where the headlights have the power to the common terminal and each filament is earthed at the dip switch. This is a bit back to front as the LED headlights needs to have the common terminal to earth and power to each light, or they simply will not work.

This problem can be solved with two relays one for each headlight. The circuit diagrams show how I added the relay to one headlight, the same would be repeated on the other. The first diagram is the factory Toyota set up, the second the modded version.

There is also yellow and red wire on the back of the LED headlights, the yellow is for the turn signal and the red is for the park light which is easy enough to connect. The Instructions in the box said there is a red and green wire, but this was not the case with the headlights that came in the box.

One the wiring was all fitted I noticed that the turn signal was cycling rapidly indicating a fault, this is because the LEDs have a much lower current than bulbs, so the flasher unit thinks there is a bulb blown so rapidly flashes. This can be easily fixed by replacing the flasher with a LED flasher.

Step 4: Fitting the Headlights

Fitting the new headlights was pretty easy, they bolted into the factory bolt holes and as you can see from the photo with one old and one new headlight the LED headlights are significantly brighter and way cooler. The park and turn signals in the headlight look fantastic and I will delete the turn signals in the bumper and leave the park light in the headlight surrounds disconnected

Step 5: Reassembly

Reassembly is just the reverse of the tear down The headlight surrounds go back in first, followed by the grill and then the bumper. I did look for another bumper as this one is quite badly twisted, but as yet have not been able to find one. The turn signal lights in the bumper are not going to be used anymore so I filled them in with a bit of steel and set the thing on fire which was exciting.

I could probably spend a bit more time on them to get the metal finish a bit nicer, but it didn't look too bad after grinding with a flap disc and a bit of clear coat to protect it from rusting.

Here are some photos, and yes I can now see where I'm going at night.

I like them so much I did it again on my other truck


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