C3 Corvette
Vacuum to Electric Headlights

Any and all information contained on this website and/or section is provided and intended solely for your entertainment and enjoyment. You should always consult a professionally trained automotive expert before undertaking any modifications to your or anyone else's vehicle.


I take no credit for the overall solution of vacuum to electric headlights presented here - I extracted information from various post on www.corvetteforum.com There are many individuals who deserve the credit for the work they did figuring out what and what did not work. I used bits and pieces of their ideas to come up with a solution which is documented here.  I thank them for their sharing of information. Be sure you read all the way through because some things changed from the time I started until done and no way to "UNTAKE" pics.
NOTE: There are other possible parts and solutions -- you be the judge.

Parts List:

Miata Motors
2 - 1 Right & 1 Left
$25.00 each + $16.95 Shipping

2 - 3/8-24 Linkage Rod with RH & LH threads
$6.38 + $9.00 Shipping

2 - 3/8-24 Female Heim Joints RH
2 - 3/8-24 Female Heim Joints LH


4 - 1/4-20 X 2" Bolts
2 - 1/4-20 X 3" Bolts
6 - 1/4-20 Nylon Lock Nuts
2 - 3/8-24 X 1 1/4" Bolts
4 - 3/8-24 Jam Nuts
4 - 5/16-18 X 3/4" Bolts
2 - 5/16-18 X 1" Bolts
6 - 5/16 Nylon Lock Nuts
1/4 - 3/8 Nylon Washers
Ace Hardware - ~$15.00

Various Electrical items which I already had
1 - 20 or better Amp Relay
1 - Inline Fuse (20 Amp)
Wire Connectors

Probably forgot something

Click on images for larger view
I started the project not out of necessity but wanting to clean up engine bay. We are all aware of the clusters of wires & hoses under our hoods. I had a perfectly good (almost new) and working vacuum system. NOTE: With various solutions, parts, skill levels, model years, working environment, tools and etc. Everything here may or may not apply to your application. For the record: Vette is 1979 w/LS3 -- Tremec 5 spd -- Steeroid Rack & Penion -- 52,xxx miles. I’m 71, retired and have been moding cars most of my life. I also have a lift which makes thing easier and Vette is not my daily driver. For me removing grills made things a lot easier.


Best if you get your parts early especially your motors that can be bench tested (see wiring below) to insure they work properly. One I received had a crack in BIG GEAR and would hang occasionally – vendor replaced.

First item on list was to remove hood and original Vacuum System. Start by masking off edges around front of hood with BLUE TAPE, both hood & body. You may want to do same around headlight buckets. Before removing hood, mark exactly where your hinges bolt to the hood either by scribing or BLUE TAPE. This will make aligning hood when reinstalled easy. Next remove original actuators, relays and hoses. You will need to block off vacuum source. You will also have hoses going through the firewall to the headlight & override switchs -- your call if you want to remove these or not.

*** If you have questions or problems at this point while taking apart -- best you stop because putting back together will be a little harder ***

Note: Suggest you put something like a sheet of cardboard on the front of your radiator or A/C condenser - that will save you from accidently punching a hole and also save many scars on your hands.
All you need to keep is pivot pins, bushings and springs. Remove offset arm from motor and remove ball by grinding back side and knocking out with punch. Probably will need to enlarge motor mounting holes on brackets as they are a little off. Mount bracket & motors and mark for drilling extra hole to help with flexing. Drill out original mounting bracket for arm clearance

Now that you are sure everything fits you can start some assembly. No special order here: (1) paint & install brackets (2) install pivot pins w/RH Heim joint with springs  (3) Some of the Wiring ** Motors & linkage rods will be installed later.

Wiring – again lots of options but here is what I did. Having done quite a few wiring jobs I found all the items needed to do this project in my electric parts box.
Miata Motor Wire Colors
Red – open trigger
Yellow – close trigger
White/Red – input 12v fused
Black - ground
Green - Not Used - "headlight indicator"
I only had motor side of the plug so I cut plugs off and used plugs I already had. They had six (6) wires so I cut off extra two (2). Wired motor to one side of the plug (see diagram) and other side to relay.

Trigger wiring - I have seen three (3) ways to wire trigger wire and the easiest for me was to tap into parking/running lights. I very seldom drive at night and never run with just parking lights on and I’m trying to eliminate wires/hoses. With left front grill removed disconnect parking/directional light socket (see below) then splice into brown wire which is HOT when parking and/or headlights are on. I used some OEM plugs I had. Then plug back in.

Trigger wiring - (Another option) Using Headlight Low Beam as trigger. You will need a 1A Diode to only allow current to flow in one direction. I used a mini-fuse type diode along with Inline Holder.


Linkage rod - Again various options - I elected to get all new end-to-end with easy adjustment. I did not know what length I needed so I bought long and cut off on my old band saw. With motors wired you can mount them. ** Make sure your motors are cycled to closed position and headlights close then install offset arm in farthest point from pivot pin (180° ) Now mount/adjust linkage rods.

NOTE: Change here - I found out that it was best to hold 3/8 bolt to offset arm with nylon washers &  jam nuts this allows you have a little free play in the Heim joint. (see pic below)

Final Install - Time to put it all together - if you did test fittings it should just all bolt/plug in. Do your final linkage rod adjustment. Mount your relay - Run 12v + wire (I got mine at Alternator) - Don't forget an inline fuse (20/30 amp). Hook up you trigger wire and run ground wire. Reinstall Hood. Should have about 5/16 clearance from motor to hood.

FINAL NOTE: This is how I installed mine. There may be better/worst, cheaper/expensive, faster/slower or whatever ways BUT all this is documentation of how I did it. Again I take no credit for the research that made this a fairly easy task.