I’ve always dug spotlights. I think the first time I noticed them was in an old movie, maybe Rebel Without a Cause, or something like that…there’s just something old-school cool about having an extra light (or two) on your non-police car when you need it.
When I was young I put spotlights on everything. In the 80s they were cheap, and I found probably a dozen over the years for $5 bucks or less. I put a spotlight on a dark green 1972 Cadillac Sedan DeVille, and someone asked me if it was an old army car for a general. I put dual 5″ spots on a 73 Caprice mild custom. I even put an S6 on my 1979 Lincoln Town Car. Most of them worked.
When I bought the Chevy in 1990, I had a cool 1950’s combo spotlight/sideview mirror, so I put that on her. It looked great, and worked too! That stayed on the car until the early 2000’s when I decided I wanted to go with dual spotlights.
As usual, I decided to complicate my life and do something that was going to cost me more money than I ever imagined possible for something that seemed so simple. You see, the 1953 and 1954 Chevrolet was MADE for dual spotlights. There was already a hole on the inside metal door skin on each side for the spotlight to go through. Unity, the major spotlight manufacturer, still makes the specific through-the-door mounting bracket for these cars. The only thing that is missing from the equation is…the length of the spotlight needed.
In the early 2000’s, I searched ebay for a pair of nice, chrome spotlights, complete. I found two, identical, 1960s Unity S6 6″ spots. They were perfect…until I put them on the car. Oh, they looked great! But…
Spotlight Hell! They were too long! I knew that spotlights came in different lengths, and I though the ones I got were going to be good…but they were too long. Which meant the driver’s side handle was about 1″ away from the steering wheel, and the passenger side handle protruded into the chest of the passenger, if the passenger happened to have a large chest (and all of mine do!)
It was a minor inconvenience but there was also the issue of them being a bit loose, and not always working. So before I painted the car in March, I decided to buy a brand new pair of good quality, great condition, 1950s S6’s to put on Stardust…and I was sure to buy the shorter ones.
They look great! And the work too! However…
Spotlight Hell! As nothing ever works the way it should, once I put the door panels back on I had a hell of a time trying to get the handles back. As it turns out, there is a THIRD size to these (and hell, probably more) not just long and short. The two I got this time were perfectly matched, 12″ long spotlights. About two inches too short to fit through the door and operate properly!
Tonight I spent about two hours trying to figure out how to make these work, before I realized resistance is futile. So, as of the time of this writing, I’ve bought one on ebay cheap (dented) that’s 14″, and I have a “make offer” on another one, no bulb, but 14″. The plan is to put the perfect spotlight housings and handles from the short ones on the 14″ rods. Here’s why this is hell, besides all the extra work: Early 2000’s, spent about $100 on multiple spotlights to put together two good ones, but they were too long. This year spent about $120 on two more, but they are too short. Going to spend at least another $100 to get the 14″ rods. After all this, I could have just bought new ones from Unity, exact replicas of the 1950s models, 18 years ago for $300 and it would have been done. Of course, then I wouldn’t have anything to write about.