Right Side Tail Light & Turn Signals for Early Cars & Trucks
By Stephen Kassis
Most early Chevrolet cars & trucks came from the factory with only the left side tail light. Right side tail lights were offered as an accessory for many of these vehicles. Many reproduction tail lights and right side tail light arms and/or brackets are now available. Safety and common sense dictate that installing a second tail light on our early vehicles is both necessary and wise.
Another smart option is to install LED conversions, lenses or LED tail light assemblies for maximum visibility. When following vintage vehicles on tour, it becomes obvious which cars have the security and safety of LED lighting on their cars. While the vintage car directly in front of you may be barely visible due to the use of stock tail and stop lights, the car or truck with LED lights is easily seen 4 to 6 car lengths ahead. The addition of an LED third brake light further enhances the safety factor. Making a vintage vehicle bright and visible from the rear will resolve one of the biggest safety concerns with our slow moving vehicles – rear end collisions.
An additional benefit of the right side tail light is that turn signals can be installed. Back in the day when hand signals were common, there was much less traffic on the roads and traffic speeds were slower. In today’s modern traffic, very few people understand hand signals and even fewer are paying attention to them. Again, safety and common sense suggest that turn signals have become a necessity rather than a luxury. The cost of these upgrades is minimal compared to the danger, cost & inconvenience of a rear end collision.
Of course, mounting and wiring for tail lights and turn signals will vary from vehicle to vehicle, but it is a very simple process, taking just a few hours up to a day in most cases. A heavy duty turn signal switch with emergency flashers is one option or you can opt for a simple “left or right” signal switch. Once the right side tail light is added, something must be done for the front turn signals. Some early cars had cowl lights that can be converted for use as turn signals. In addition, several aftermarket lights can be installed for use as front turn signals. Vehicles that originally came with parking lights can often be changed to a dual contact socket or change the entire assembly for one that has been set up for turn signals.
After installing right side tail lights, LED lenses, assemblies and a turn signal setup, you will be able to drive your classic knowing that you are much safer on the road.