Vol. V

May Newsletter

Quad Headlights
The 1958 Design Influence of Dual Headlights Laws

I always say I learn something on every car I sell, and the 1957 Mercury Monterey is no exception.

I knew that in 1958, all the states adopted laws allowing four headlights, two low beam and two high beam. We take this for granted now, but a real big deal in 1958. Each state had to pass this law and some early states allowed four headlights in 1957. Preparation by auto manufacturers required them to design ahead of the law changes.

Those of you born after 1990 or so have grown up in an automotive world where "all cars" have composite headlamp assemblies, uniquely designed to be make- and model-specific. If a light within the assembly burns out, you replace "just" the bulb. If the unit cracks, you must purchase a replacement that fits your car and your car only.

This was not always the case! For approximately 45 years, all U.S.-specification cars were required by law to use "sealed beam headlamps". What are they? They are a headlamp assembly consisting of an enclosure with a bulb in front of a lens, completely made of glass. The entire unit is sealed (hence the name) and none of the parts can be replaced separately. If the headlight stops functioning or breaks, you replace the entire sealed beam light (they were, and still are, rather affordable). Replacement lamps guaranteed to fit your car were available in every auto parts store.

As difficult as the following may be to believe, the government dictated both the size and the shape of the sealed beam units. Needless to say, this imposed some limits on car design for decades. They were not without their advantages, though. Made of glass, the lens did not become dull or opaque from exposure to the elements the way some plastic lenses do. Every time you replaced a headlight, you got a new lens. The actual replacement was quite easy to perform on most cars.

I had already purchased the White & Pink Coupe below when I purchased the Brown & Tan sedan a month later. I argued with the seller that it must be a 1958 due to the four headlights. With research, I discovered Mercury and some Chrysler, DeSotos, and Imperials offered quad headlight options, depending on the state of purchase. So study closely these two 1957 Mercury Montereys below and see how the changes in headlights affected the styling and how different these two cars appear.

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Easy to See the Difference

Below are eight comparison examples of how styling changed for the major brands after 1958 over the single light cars of the previous few years. Although the dual headlight styling is not always the preferred design in the collector car market, back in 1958, your car looked dated without quad headlights...

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Cantilever Headlights
Styling on the Tilt

With the dual headlight change, most designers preferred vertical stacking and side by side alignments. In some of the more futuristic designs, cantilever or diagonal alignment was used. See these three rare designs used for one year in the Buick and Chrysler, three years for the Lincoln. They are now some of the most sought after models due to this unique feature.

1959 Buick Invicta

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Just arrived, this very rare car is in incredible, rust free condition. For those of you that know me, I am a huge Oldsmobile fan. But the 1959 Buick Invicta Coupe is my favorite classic car ever. Elegant yet sporty. Huge fins, tons of chrome, cantilever headlights and amazing style. I know the symbol of American classics is the 1959 Cadillac, but I will take this car any day over a Cadillac. Let this beautiful car be your love and show winner. This car is one of the nicest original 1950's survivor cars we have had in ten years. It drives like a new car. Purchased new in California, it remained with the original family with stints in Hawaii and Washington State until sold back to California in 2015. Let it be the envy of everyone in your area car shows.

1960 Lincoln Mark V Coupe

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This 1958-1960 Lincoln body style is one of my favorites and most eclectic of the tail fin era. I love them and think they are one of the most stylish cars of the late fifties and early sixties. This beauty matches one of the cars featured in the 1960 Lincoln brochure and a copy comes with the car. This car has received an excellent repaint in the original Pale Turquoise in 2006. Excellent condition original seats and door panels in Aqua leather and beautiful Peacock Tweed cloth inserts. The door panels & dash are original and in amazing condition. New Aqua carpet and original headliner. Very nice original chrome and stainless. The car is equipped with the factory 430 cubic inch engine, 4BBL carb and automatic transmission. Power vent, side and rear windows. Elegant factory wheel covers and rims, newer wide whitewall tires. Garage kept, pampered and serviced, this car could not be nicer.

1962 Chrysler 300 Coupe

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This car is an amazing example of the famous Chrysler 300 nameplate and in mint, driving condition. Frame off restoration completed including drive train rebuild. Car was in California until purchased by a North Carolinian in 2010. This is an outstanding example of the 1962 300 Coupe. The interior dashes of these cars are space age and are like no other. Everything works on this car and it is ready for its new owner. Chryslers of this vintage are some of the most desired American classics and continue to rise in value. This car has one excellent dual stage repaint in Bermuda Turquoise, a stunning color. Mint condition correct Black leather interior in as new condition. Mint dash, door panels, carpet and door panels. Show quality chrome & stainless. The car is equipped with the rebuilt factory 383 cubic inch engine and rebuilt automatic transmission with ice cold factory air conditioning.


MJC Classic Cars has been selling not only our own cars, but vehicles for consigning clients too. We’ve been able to consistently sell luxury cars, muscle cars, and custom hot rods for clients from all over the USA and Canada.

We only consign very nice vehicles, no rust buckets or projects. Our rule is we need to have the vehicle present for photographs here in Lakeland, Florida and can safely store the car until sold. We do not take offsite consignments as many cars are visited pre-sale by buyers and inspectors, so we limit consignments to cars that are with us.
MJC Classic Cars is an established company selling about 300 classics this year. We have found eBay, Hemmings Online, Classiccars Online and Autotrader Classics to be the most cost effective and result oriented places to advertise your car. Our website www.mjcclassiccars.com confirms the quality of the cars we sell to potential buyers. Fees paid after we sell your car... Most consignment companies charge you up front and then ongoing marketing fees. We charge our selling fees after we sell your car. There are no storage fees or marketing fees paid during the selling period. We get paid when we perform.

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