Bright Tail lights

Brighter Tail Lights

When I was fixing up Colleen’s ‘56 Chevy, one of the things I wanted to do was make the stop/tail lights brighter. First, I washed the lens and cut out reflective rings for the housing. I used a 3m diamond grade sign reflective sheet scrap which really helped. (This is available at Highway Sign Shops).

Second, I ordered #1157 “Brite Light” from one of the speed shops. These ‘babies’ are bright! (50/8 watt). Unfortunately, when all the lights were on and you hit the brakes, the thermo-breaker in the light switch would go off and all the lights would flicker.

So, we returned the old 1157 bulbs to the housing and went to the local auto parts for some 1157 LED’s. These were ok for tail lights if you were exactly behind the tail light and at eye level. Otherwise, the light was marginal. (cost $7.98 each – in 2007)

I got on the internet and came across They have a lot of helpful hints about LED lights and admit that it’s hard to make LED’s as bright as incandescent bulbs. Anyway, I ordered some 24 LED wide view lights ( $7.29 each) and some 1157-LX3 Luxeon bulbs ($19.95 each). The 24 LED are about as bright as a standard 1157 bulb which was very disappoint. But wait…the 1157-LX3 Luxeon bulb is great! It is only 3 watt and has 120º of viewing. The tail light part is as bright as my old stop light. The stop light is really bright!

I think the regular LED lights would be great for courtesy lights and dome lights because of their low power draw. The LED would probably not work in instrument lighting because of their directional light characteristics. If you want to try some 1157 LED bulbs in your housings, let me know. I have 3 different types you can experiment with. 

Also, when you get your LED lights, make sure the bulb is the same color as the lens going over it – the LED red for stop/tail lights and white or yellow for parking lamps.