Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Yellow Headlights of France

While perusing my daily subscription to Bring A Trailer, I came upon this Bizzarrini being sold by a guy in Nice. Aside from the very distinctive styling of the front end, the yellow headlights hauntingly and menacingly stared at me.

Remember those yellow headlights from old movies? What happened to them? What was the story behind them?

The yellow headlights were introduced in France in 1936. Ever the military strategists, yellow lights were required of vehicles in France so that they could be distinguished from white-lit German invaders. Of course, during the war, the yellow lights just made the shooting and blowing up easier for the Nazis.

The French kept the yellow headlights after the war. The official reason was that the yellow lights gave off less glare, which was sort of true but only when it was foggy. The unofficial, and real, reason was that it represented stubborn, quirky Frenchness.

Alas, with the EU and full economic integration, cars registered in France no longer were required to have yellow headlights in 1993. No word yet on when Strasbourg is going to phase out the beret.



Blogger said...

Talking of which, don't you think that Bizzarrini is THE most beautiful thing ever? How about doing a write-up about that?

By the way, I LOVE your blog, and read it every day.
Well done and thank you!


Maxichamp said...

Hi Etienne,

Thanks for the compliment. I just discovered the Bizzarrini recently. I have hesitated writing about it because I do not know much about it. I'll do some research and post something.

Anonymous said...

..yellow headlights don't reflect the rain..aka..better vision in the rain..

Anonymous said...

1936-1993. Outlasted the U.S. sealed beam requirement by several years on each end (1940-84).