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How Headlights have improved in the last 100 years

How Headlights have improved in the last 100 years

Snapshot: Ford Motor Company has revealed the journey of headlights over the course of last 100 years and how the headlight design has improved during all these years.

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Imagine a world without light, a world where there's no electricity. Hard to imagine, isn't it? But there was once a time when electricity was just a distant dream and the only source of light was oil burners. But how does it all relate to automobiles? Well, Ford Motor Company has revealed  data showing us how far we’ve come since the early days of electric power, and how much the headlights have evolved.

“In terms of lighting technology, we have come out of the dark ages,” said Michael Koherr, Ford’s lighting research engineer. “It is quite incredible what a fundamental difference these changes contribute in terms of road safety and driver comfort.” We take the headlights for granted now-a-days, but back in the day, driving an old car at night, was as risky as driving your car blindfolded.

Here's a guide to buy perfect headlights for your car!

“We have gone from what were essentially glorified candles to efficient and effective xenon and LED lights. In the future we’ll see more super-bright LED lights equipped to cars, which can actually help drivers remain alert. Visibility at night is now so much better. Like night and day,” said Koherr. Here's how much the headlights have evolved over the years as shown in the images!


Let's call it the start of modern day, production-line cars as this was the year Ford launched the first-ever mass produced Ford Model T. The earliest cars literally used acetylene or oil lanterns to illuminate the front of the car, that had to be lit by hand. The purpose to use the light outside a car was not so much for vision, but to make the cars visible to others at night. While we can't consider headlights as proper headlights from that era, they were the earliest example of safety in a car.


After years of using lantern system, Cadillac introduced the first modern electric headlamp system in 1912. While the early electric lights were an improvement over oil burners, they had a tendency to fail rather quickly. A few years later, in 1924, the first low-beam headlights from the Guide Lamp Company were introduced, but they were still extremely dim by modern standards. The Ford Model Y came equipped with the early example of low beam electric headlights.


Although the high/ low beam bulb appeared in 1924, the true lighting revolution took almost 40 years to occur, when in 1962, a bit of inert gas was added to a standard incandescent bulb. By 1966, this technology became popular and we saw the birth of the halogen headlamp, which had an increased light output and longevity. The lighting helped reduce fatal accidents and the speed of the cars increased just like that. The picture shows Ford Anglia with a Halogen lamp.


The year is 1994 and a Ford Mondeo is being shown using a halogen headlight, with a much improved visibility. The halogen lamps in question here were used in all the cars, some being more technologically superior than others. Many modern cars still use halogen systems, but the next revolution is well underway. We are talking about LED and Xenon lights, which are still under development and will take at least a decade to become a prominent player.


Come 2016, Xenon and LED lighting systems have become the regular types of headlight in modern cars. Although some cars still prefer halogen bulbs, due to the affordability factor, LED/ Xenon are technologically far superior. They have generally three times the output versus halogens, while also lasting longer. They are an unmatched required in today's time when cars are expensive and faster and need a lot of support from headlights in the night. A Ford Mustang with LED lights have been shown here in the images.

Source: Ford Motor Company

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