CarQuiz 39: Meerkats in your mirror

Why modern day car manufacturers have not yet come up with a gimmick to fill the coolness vacuum caused by the disappearance of pop-up headlights is a mystery to me. Off course even the old nostalgic git in me can see the disadvantages of them in terms of manufacturing and reliability. I also do realise that, from a purely functional point of view, modern day alternative are vastly superior. But every car designer knows that a cool gimmick sells cars like nothing else and I for one have not yet seen an alternative on modern cars that scores an equal amount of coolness points.

Pop-up headlights have been around since the pre-war days in old Cords and Buicks but really had its heyday in my very own automotive formative days. As a small boy I was intrigued by them and their respective exact workings.

Off-course there was what I call the “Basic Pop-up light”, a lid in the hood that opened to reveal the headlight below it. Just think of an ordinary Celica or MR2 and think how those headlights just seem to set them apart from the more humdrum contemporary Toyotas. There have been countless variations on the pop-up theme though.

Chevrolet had a great run with their Corvettes, starting with the C2 which had an entire nose section rotate to display the two double sets of headlights, and all the way in to the C5 generation that sported pop-up’s until as late as 2004!

Porsche off course have offered one or two variants that are especially notable. Besides the run-of-the-mill pop-up headlights in their ordinary offerings such as the 924/944 and 911 Slantnose (!), they had some surprises up their sleeves. First off was the mighty 928 with

A Porsche 928

its lights sitting flush in the bonnet and pivoting up when activated, showing off those streamlined pods that housed the light assembly. Different and cool for sure, but to me they always reminded me of two meerkats standing up to sniff out danger. To me the more elegant and integrated action of the 968 has always been more pleasing (the fact I happen sit behind these quite a lot may have something to do with this I hasten to add).

This prelude leads me on to today’s CarQuiz solution: the Opel GT. One of my early schoolmate’s dads used to run one these in black. Its shape and it probably being the first sportscar I ever sat in, made an impression on me that stays with me until today. The most special moment though, was whenever my mates’ dad drove up to us kids, those headlights would spin on their axis and he would give us a flash. Magic!


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