A large part of the Mustang hobby is customization. As we all know, what we do to the outside (and inside) of our Mustangs is extremely personal. It’s our way to reflect the theme of the build and set us apart from the pack. With that, we decided it was time to install some show parts on our 2011 Mustang project.
Our Project Wild E Coyote has received numerous upgrades in the performance department lately. We decided that to help further differentiate it from the herd we’d upgrade its lighting, and appearance at all four corners, thanks to our friends at American Muscle. A lighting upgrade is not only going to add looks and style to our car, but also will in some cases improve safety.
We got together with the folks at American Muscle, a leading online retailer for a variety of Mustang performance and appearance accessories. AM provided us with a host of lighting upgrades for the exterior of our ’11 Coyote-powered pony to get us better visibility and some more style. Follow along as we show you a little bit of what AM offers in the lighting department, and how easy it is to do this kind of modification to your own car.
Starting Out Back
Tail lights are probably one of the least upgraded areas of many Mustangs. We’re really not sure why that’s the case, maybe it’s because we seldom walk up to our cars from the back; we leave looking at the backside of our car to the guy in the other lane. The rear of the 2010+ Mustangs has been a subject of controversy since it was first previewed, with some even calling it import-like in appearance.
AM offers a variety of lighting upgrades for the rear of 87-12 Mustangs. Everything from stock type replacements, to smoked or chrome lenses, euro style and more.
Not only do these Raxiom parts offer improved appearance but as AM’s Chris Rose tells us, “Raxiom lights are about adding style without sacrificing quality.” On the quality front we did notice during our installation that all of the upgrades were simple, straight forward, and fit the car very well. As Rose explained a big reason for this high quality is, “All of the lights carry a two year warranty, and are made in the same DOT approved facilities as most OEM lights.”
Part numbers for rear upgrade:
- MMD Matte Black Tail Light Trim: 41273
- Deck Lid Blackout Panel: 80174
- Raxiom Smoked Aero Tail Lights: 49145
- Smoked Third Brake Light Tint: 26080
- Smoked Quarter Marker Light Tint: 26087
- Raxiom License Plate Light LED Conversion Kit: 49181
- Raxiom Front and Rear Side Marker Light LED Conversion Kit: 49173
- Raxiom Reverse Light LED Conversion Kit: 49193
There’s a noticeable dead space between the rear tail lights on 2010+ Mustangs. While the GT Cap here is nice the space still looks like an empty void to us. This was even more apparent with our new tail lights installed.
To correct this issue AM sent us one of their 10-13 Mustang rear blackout panels. This panel installs in just a few minutes with no drilling, cutting or other damage to your car required. Once in place we found this was a very nice way to tie together the blacked out appearance of rear of the car.
Raxiom lights are about adding style without sacrificing quality.
We’re installing a set of Raxiom Smoked Aero Tail Lights on our 2011 GT. This lighting setup moves the backup/reverse lights to the bottom of the lens and does a great job of cleaning up the appearance of the rear of the car. This light looks less busy and more well thought out. Installation time should take less than an hour. We should note that the space to work in is a bit tighter on car’s equipped with the Shaker audio system, but still about an hour’s task to complete.
Markers, Third Brake Light, License Plate and Reverse Lamps
We also chose to add a bit of style to our third brake light and marker lights as well. AM offers a very high quality smoked vinyl film for these applications that simply applies to the lenses to achieve the smoked look. This meshed nicely along with our new tail lights and headlight upgrades. It is important to note that you need to check local laws in your area, regarding tinted lights before installing these products. The last thing you want to do is spend your money and time installing something like this, only to give the local long arm of the law a reason to stop you and write a citation.
We also installed Raxiom’s LED conversion kits for the front and rear side marker lights. Since we were already smoking the lenses on these we thought it would be wise to upgrade the bulbs from the low powered incandescent that the factory provides to some super white LED’s. AM actually recommends this type of upgrade anytime you’re making a change to dark or smoked lenses. As Rose told us “The obvious advantage is that the light has much better output. The LED bulbs are also much more reliable than standard bulbs.” This upgrade is as simple as performing a bulb change, and we had it done in less than fifteen minutes.
Additionally we performed an LED conversion on our backup lights and license plate lights. This goes along with our full LED conversion at nearly every replaceable exterior bulb other than the headlamps. Just like the marker lights upgrading the license plate and backup lights is as simple as doing a bulbs swap. Since we were already swapping the tail lights that made the backups upgrade that much easier.
When it comes to headlights we all know they’re important. Just how important though is something that we often times fail to consider until it’s an issue. If you’re Mustang has some years and miles on its odometer then chances are good the original plastic lenses are dull, scratched and faded. While you can try cleaning and “restoration” products, chances are that your lenses are so far gone the only way you can successfully improve nigh time lighting and visibility is to replace them.
Aside from appearance, replacing your lights can also add several safety benefits. First it obviously allows you to see better at night. It also reduces your chances of “out driving” your headlights. This term refers to driving at a rate of speed high enough that by the time an object is made visible by your lights, say an obstacle in the road, there is not enough time for you to correct safely if even at all. Replacing your headlights also improves your cars visibility to other drivers.
Part numbers for the front upgrade:
- Raxiom Smoked Projector Headlights CCFL Halo: 49129
- Raxiom H9 Headlight Bulbs: 49154
- Black Front Side Markers: 4191
- Raxiom Switchback Turn Signal Conversion Kit: 49182G05
- Raxiom Front and Rear Side Marker Light LED Conversion Kit: 49173
AM offers several lighting options for Mustangs. We could have chosen from LED or Halo accent conversions, headlight splitters and more. We found that we really liked the appearance of the Raxiom Smoked Projector Lens headlights (also available in chrome). These lenses feature a black background which will blend in nicely with our factory paint color. They also have a very aggressive look and lend to the dark and stealthy appearance we’re going for with this car. The lights offer better vision at night by using the projector beam style lighting instead of just an ordinary halogen reflector. They also feature an LED accent strip under the turn signal, as well as a HALO which adds a bit of style for cruising the streets at night.
We upgraded the headlight bulbs as well, with a set of Raxiom’s high quality H9 bulbs for our lights, to further improve night time vision. The headlight installation is quite a bit more involved than doing the tail lights, but it can still be done in your home garage with only basic hand tools in a rather short period of time.
Turn Signals and Parking Lights
The reason we’ve decided to make most of the lights we have is because customers were calling and begging us to get Raxiom to produce them. -Chris Rose
While we could have stopped with the installation of our new projector beam lenses we decided to step things up another notch. Taking the place of the amber bulbs in our front headlight and parking/turn signal housings is now a Raxiom Switchback Kit.
This upgrade utilizes some trick technology to change our lights from white while we’re driving with the headlights on, to amber when we hit the turn signal switch. While installing these requires a bit more work than a simple bulb change, we still found it could be done in just a matter of minutes. Much like the upgrade to our reverse lights earlier this upgrade was made even easier by the fact that we already had the headlight assemblies removed making this part of the job that much easier.
We also swapped out the front side markers with a set of Black Side Marker lights, again matching the theme. These too were easily installed in only a few minutes, and while we were doing the swap we also installed the LED replacement bulbs.
With trends constantly changing within the Mustang landscape, as well as the blue oval making changes to the car every few years manufacturers have to keep up with both the latest style trends as well as OEM changes. On both these fronts Rose told us, “We’re constantly developing and releasing lights based on customer input. The reason we’ve decided to make most of the lights we have is because customers were calling and begging us to get Raxiom to produce them.”