After the successful install of the auxiliary fan, I had realized the headlights had been upgraded in a cheap way. I already had the front valance off the car, so it was a great time to repair and replace the front headlights. The previous owner had installed a cheap HID kit with a set of DEPO headlights. The whole install was a mess. The back covers, where the bulbs sit, were missing. This meant, any water could get on the bulb from the rear of the headlight. The city lights wiring, which sits above the main headlight bulb, was simply cut off. This had to be redone not just because it wasn’t done properly, but also one of HID lights wasn’t working. This install was similar to the auxiliary fan install. I just kept wondering what else lay in-store for me on this car.
Luckily the DEPO headlight on the car were still in good condition and sellable. The main reason I was selling these was the covers for the bulbs were missing. In the photo above you can see the back of the head light where the bulb sits. That is where the cover is supposed to be. There is a good market for these aftermarket headlights. I put them on Facebook marketplace and Letgo for a $100 and they were gone in no time. Now I could buy a new set with the sale money.
I went back and forth on buying original Hella headlights for the build but those were $500+ and I had other items I needed to buy. Perhaps sometime down the road when the car is mint, and I want to replace the headlights with originals, but for now, knock off DEPOs would do. After a quick search, I found the set I wanted on eBay. I chose this set because it is meant to be used with 9005 and 9006 bulbs which one of the most common modern bulbs you can buy. These were Euro Spec lights and in the right price point. The only problem was how to power these lights without destroying the wiring harness.
Before I started cutting up the wiring harness and hardwiring everything in, I wanted to ensure there wasn’t a better way of wiring these new lights up. A YouTube channel pointed me in the direction of making a small wiring harness out of two connectors to help bridge the old BMW connector and the DEPO 9005/9006 connector. The pictures above is what the channel recommended. Amazon has tons of these for sale on their website. One thing to note when making these harnesses, the original 9003 female connectors do not use all three pins. Look at the back of the 9003 wiring harness to see which wires need to be deleted. The brown wires are the ground and need to match the black wires of the DEPO headlight. The yellow wire of the DEPO headlight will need to connect to the other wire in the BMW 9003 connector. In my case it was a yellow and black color wire. Please note that this is a late model car that I am working on and may not apply to the earlier model cars but in checking with the Bentley Manual, it didn’t mention anything about different wiring from late to early models.
On these headlights above the low beam lights there is a bulb. These bulbs are referred to as “City Light”. These turn on with the running lights. The idea is if you are parked, and had your headlights off and just you running lights on, these would provide enough light so people would see your car on the side of the road. In theory, I guess it makes sense and I wanted these to be wired in properly. I also didn’t like the idea of just cutting the wires off and not using the bulb. I also didn’t want to remove the harness and have a hole in the back of the headlight assembly.
Since these lights did not come with US Spec headlights, they would have to be wired into the side running lights on the bumper. Some people wire these in with the blinkers or low beams but I wanted these to be wired in as they were intended.
As with the headlights, I wanted the install to be as stock looking as possible and somewhat reversible. I found a forum post where they listed the parts needed to for the wiring and wiring harness clip which is compatible with the headlight city lights. The above photos show the harness clip and wires that I used for my install. The BMW wire I used was part number: 61-13-007-446. There are three different plug housings to choose from. The part numbers are: 61-13-1-378-417, 61-13-1-378-418, and 61-13-1-378-419. I used 61-13-1-378-418 since it worked with my headlights. All of these parts are readily available and I got mine in Pelican Parts.
I took the harness plug and inserted the wires and it plugged right into the City Light harness. The next step was to splice the wires into the side bumper light. I ensured the new wires had plenty of slack to ensure the wires would not be pulled too tight. I clipped the bumper side light off and then spliced the ground and power wires together. I used solder, heat shrink, and wrapped the wires in electrical tape. I plan on redoing this with head strink connectors but this will do for now. Next step is turning the key and seeing if it works.
Success! The new wiring harness and the spliced in wiring worked. The headlights and City Lights worked flawlessly. The City Lights do stay on when the headlights are turned on but there isn’t a more simpler way to do this. All in all, this was a simple install once you knew what to buy and how to install it. I had to spend a bunch of time on forums and research but it was time well spent since the install went perfectly. With all of the basic maintenance and safety items complete, it was time to start on the on the automatic to manual transmission swap. This would be a complicated process, but taken step by step, it isn’t too complicated…. I hope. Motor on.