Mid America Motorworks (MAM) has always been a credible source when it comes to information and quality replacement parts for America’s sports car. Recently MAM has addressed an important part of your car, one which has come under a little scrutiny when the C7 was released.
Yes, we are talking about the taillights. You may love or hate the C7 taillights, and you’re certainly entitled to your opinion. That being said, there are six other generations of Corvette taillights which could use some attention. MAM has listed four main reasons that you may want to update your rear end lighting, and furthermore a guide about the different lights used throughout the years.
Safety – A cracked or broken lens lets moisture into your taillight assembly, which can lead to a short in the wiring. Even a burnt out bulb can cause problems, if other traffic doesn’t know you’re slowing down or changing lanes.
Looks – Restore original looks or upgrade to a custom style. The transformation can have a big impact on the appearance of your Corvette!
Function – If you have an early Corvette, there’s a good chance that your taillights aren’t as bright as today’s lights. Replacing your originals with LED lights will be sure to get your Corvette noticed when you’re slowing down. There are also options, such as pulsating lights, to get the attention of other motorists.
Weekend Project – Looking for a quick project with immediate results? Replacing your taillights does just that!
Until the introduction of the 7th Generation Corvette, taillights have remained more or less the same through the lifespan of America’s Sports Car. Here are a few tips for replacing your taillight lens to make the job a little easier.
The taillights were located on the fins of the car, with a lens to cover the housing. Two screws held the lens in place, one on each side of the taillight.
The taillight lens was situated inside a chrome housing. To replace the taillight, remove 2 screws on either side of the lens.
The chrome housing featured tabs to hold a red lens, held in place with 4 screws. Remove those screws and lens to access the clear lens covering the bulb. The clear lens is held in place with 2 screws on either side.
A new design introduced the circular, four-taillight look that lasted for more than 50 years. Lenses were held in place with 2 screws.
Two round taillights on each side of the car with 2 screws each for installation and replacement. The introduction of reverse lights gave the inner taillights a clear lens.
For one year only, Corvette reverse lights were moved to the rear center of the car, just above the license plate. All 4 taillights featured a red lens and used 2 screws each for installation and removal.
All 4 taillights featured red lens, as reverse lights were located on either side of the license plate. This year uses 3 screws in a triangular pattern for installation and removal.
The reverse light was moved back into the 4 taillights, with inner light having an outer red lens and an inner clear lens. The same triangular 3-screw format was used on each lens.
This is the only year that used a taillight assembly that screwed onto the bumper from behind. When replacing a taillight, you will have to remove the entire assembly by removing screws from above the muffler, then remove the lens and change the bulb.
Similar to the 1974 assembly, these taillights also screwed into the bumper. However, they can be removed from the front, allowing for easier access when replacing a taillight.
The taillight lens once again changed appearance, going to a completely flat design. It was installed and removed using 3 screws.
This assembly was designed to bolt in from the backside of the taillight. The easiest way to access the light is to remove the license plate and reach through the opening in that area. Remove the inboard taillight to reach and remove the outboard taillight.
Corvette introduced a different bumper style for the ZR1 Corvette, as well as taillights with an almost rounded square edge. Standard models still had the rounded taillights. The ZR1 lights could be removed with 2 screws on either side.
In 1991, the rounded, square edge taillights became standard on all Corvettes. They were held in place by 2 screws on either side of the lens.
The taillights once again changed slightly to an oval shape. Remove the 2 screws on either side of the lenses to replace the lights.
The shape of these taillights returned to a more round style. They were installed with 2 tabs at the bottom of the taillight housing and a single tab at the top, which held a screw in place.
The 7th Generation Corvette ushered in a brand new design to the Corvette taillight. These new lights still consisted of 4 lights. Each has a clear center lens with a red lens surrounding it. The assemblies are held in place and can be removed with 4 tabs that are secured in place with screws.