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Seven Inch Outboard Headlamps

Seven Inch Outboard Headlamps (5/28/97)

Many U.S. owners are eager to return the appearance of their XJ to the way Jaguar intended, with 7 inch outboard headlamps.  Such a conversion also provides much better lighting.  Full text details are below.  For visual guidance, see Alex Cannara's step-by-step photo guide.

Steve Chatman  (5/28/97)

Apparently, U.S. DOT requirements forced Jaguar to market XJ6s with all four headlamps the same physical size. In other countries and by original design, the outer headlamps (hi/low) are 7 inches in diameter and the inner headlamps (hi only) are 5.75 inches in diameter. Jaguar met this requirement by creating a spacer ring for the headlamp assembly and a wide chrome ring for the outer piece called the door. The 5.75 inch outer lamps aren't stylistically correct and many owners have converted to 7 inch lamps. In contrast, I am not aware of an instance of an owner with 7 inch lamps converting to the U.S. configuration so don't expect to trade.

What is required to convert to 7 inch outboard lamps? It is actually very simple once you have the parts. Obtaining the parts at a fair price is the challenge. The truth of the matter is that the only Jaguar specific component is the chrome door. Everything else can come from another English car. So, your options range from all new parts from a Canadian Jaguar dealer at one extreme (about $350 USD) to used doors from a Jaguar and other components from a Triumph or MG with round 7 inch lamps (as little as $100 USD total). Please note that I am not including the price of the headlamp bulbs. When you can buy new hi/low sealed-beam halogens for $8 USD nearly anywhere in the U.S., I don't see any reason to do otherwise. An exception are lamps that include a small pilot light that requires an extra wire. I've heard that a link to the sidemarker light is an adequate solution.

Here are the required parts. You need two chrome doors (about $110 USD from Canadian Jaguar dealership) and two headlamps assemblies. The headlamp assembly is a bucket (looks like one half of one of Madonna's outfits), a heat shield (bowl shaped minus bottom -- also looks like something Madonna would wear) that is held in place by a spring and two adjusting screws, the two adjusting screws, two chrome lamp retaining rings, and a rubber gasket that goes between the bucket and the car's wing. The electrical connections can be used from your old headlamp.

The switch-over is fairly easy with two exceptions. First, if your headlamps are well aimed, begin by marking where the center of the beam hits your garage wall when on hi beam. You can use this mark to initially aim the new headlamps. Second, the most difficult step in assembly is feeding the wires through the small hole in the bucket. A wire-bent tool and a trim of the rubber seal with scissors will help. Also, do one side of the car at a time just in case.

As I said earlier, acquiring the parts is the most difficult step. If you like new parts, you can purchase an aftermarket set from Classic Spares for about $330 delivered or new parts from a Canadian dealership for about $350. (The Classic Spares kit includes new halogens -- specify for U.S. market.) Or, you can purchase just the set of new chrome doors from a Canadian dealership for about $110 delivered and buy everything else, new or used, from other sources. If used is OK, you can purchase everything you need from a Canadian breaker for about $275 delivered (more for plastic buckets). You will notice that I most often mention Canadian suppliers. That is because of shipping and communication costs. For example, I have seen prices as low as $120 (not including shipping) for a complete used setup from an Australian breaker but a 20 lb. package from Sydney will cost about $194 USD to ship UPS to the U.S. mid-west. You will also occassionally find a U.S. breaker with a grey-market car. I bought a complete set from a U.S. breaker for about $215 delivered. It isn't easy to find Canadian breakers from the U.S. but one that comes to mind is Andrew Sampson at United Used Auto and Truck Parts in Surrey, British Columbia (; 604.588.7611). Another possibility is a place called Jaguar Parts (519.323.4509). I've dealt with Andrew but not Jaguar Parts. The only Canadian dealer I've used is Jaguar Coventry Lane in Toronto (416.752.4600).

As I mentioned before, everything but the chrome door can come from an MGB, TR6 or any other British car with 7 inch lamps. I think that the buckets carry a part number beginning F700 MKX. There are two types of buckets. Most are pressed steel and the newer are plastic. The steel can rust, so bear that in mind. It isn't a problem where I live. Using this approach, I bought two used component sets for an MGB from British Masters for less than $30 delivered. You can also probably piece together what you need from a supplier of new parts like SICP for about $100.

Final thoughts? The 7 inch lamps look much better but it is a hassle to acquire the parts. Is it worth the price? Probably not, but what on your Jaguar is when considered one piece at a time?

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