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DIY Projector Headlights

Updated: Mar 15, 2020

Projector headlights are amazing compared to their reflector lens counterparts. Although projectors are starting to trickle down into more common every day cars, they've been reserved for the higher end vehicles in the past. Making your own is surprisingly not that difficult, and it's becoming a popular modification on all kinds of vehicles.

There are many online resources for retrofitting projects in to car's headlights, but the basic procedure is all the same. Open headlights, remove reflectors, fasten in projector lens, add a shroud, and seal everything back up.

The projectors in this project are my second set I've ever made. The first set I made for a 1999 Monte Carlo. They turned out amazing, and I was quite surprised at how easy it was to do. When I got my Miata, I knew I wanted to do the same project. The Miata posed a few extra difficulties, but I was able to overcome them.

My first projectors on an 1999 Monte Carlo

The main challenge in the Miata lights is they flip up and down and the space is quite small. I wanted to get away from the goofy looking round eye ball like sealed beams that were on the car from the factor. I like the "low profile" look of some of the square 4x6 headlight kits that exist on the market for the Miata, but none of them are projectors. So I decided to gather up the parts I would need for this build and tackle it myself.

In the video below I go over the procedure to make these custom projectors.

To keep the video generic to any car, I didn't discuss the mounting method I used to install these into the Miata in the video, so I'll detail it here.

To establish the "low pro" look of the headlight buckets, the headlight bucket pivot arms need to be shortened. I removed the stock ones and threw them away, and started from scratch to build my own. I used 1/4" threaded rod and ball end joints to make adjustable links for the buckets. To mount the links to the bucket I just used some metal plate. The new mounts bolt right next to the stock mounts. The lever arm on the headlight motor also needs to be shortened, so I cut a new one of of bar steel. It took me a few attempts in trial and error to find the correct length for this piece. But once I had these cut, I could adjust the link with the threaded rod until the headlights went up the same amount and also closed firmly. The bumpers were also adjusted so the bucket was tight in both the raised and lowered positions.

Custom made links - I ended up painting them black. The hardware is stainless steel.

Other view of links. You can see the stock ball joint link right below the new one.

Installed on the car. The headlight motor is on the right (black).

The bumper was extended using more threaded rod with a slight bend in it and a rubber bumper from the hardware store.

To mount the new lights to the buckets, I added some aluminum angle to the side of the lights. This gave me a place to bolt the headlights to the buckets.  I drilled some holes in the aluminum as well as the headlight bucket for some mounting bolts, and I also made a small adjustment piece that would allow me to aim the headlights.

The adjustment link can be seen on the lower right of the light. It just uses a bolt and two nuts that go through the headlight bucket. This allows the light to be aimed at the correct height.

To clean up the look, I added some plexi-glass shrouds around the headlight to give it a finished and factory look.  I just used plasti-dip to paint them black.

With plexi-glass covers in place. They just bolt to the side of the bucket where the stock ones attached.

Here is a shot of their light pattern at night with low beams and high beams. These things will put any light for the Miata available to shame.  I am really happy with the outcome.

Projectors on Low Beam

Projectors on High Beam

Looks mean!

Good luck making a set of your own!


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