Nader Lights


Trends in American automotive de­sign in the mid-1960s had a prob­lem!  In some cases, the head­lights were re­cess­ed into the front of the bo­dy.  In o­ther cas­es the sides of the bo­dy were ex­tend­ed well be­yond the head­lights in the front and the tail­lights in the back.  Google 1967 cars and stud­y the ima­ges to see what I mean.  The prob­lem was this:  If, at night, a car was turning into your path from a side street, the side view of the car would have no lights show­ing to make you a­ware it was there un­til it was well in­to its turn. 

To correct this situation, a Federal law was passed that re­quired, a­mong other things, all auto­mo­biles ma­nu­fac­tur­ed after a certain date to have mark­er lights vis­i­ble from the side, near the front and back of the car.  This law was ori­gin­al­ly to take ef­fect Jan­u­ary 1st, 1968, but was lat­er re-writ­ten to take ef­fect Jan­u­ary 1st, 1970.

At the time, these extra lights were com­mon­ly called "Na­der lights," in re­cog­ni­tion of the work of Ralph Na­der in push­ing for safe­ty fea­tures in cars.  How "Na­der lights" was in­flect­ed when spok­en depend­ed on whe­ther you thought Mr. Na­der was a champ­ion of pub­lic safe­ty or just be­ing med­dle­some.
A chassis punch
A chassis punch
The two halves, placed on each side of the sheet­metal, with the screw pass­ing through a small hole, shear a large hole as the screw is tight­ened.

The first imp­le­men­ta­tions of these lights of­ten were ad­di­tion­al light assem­blies add­ed to the sides, almost as an af­ter­thought to the de­sign.  Google 1971 cars to see what I mean.  Car de­signs since that time have in­clud­ed side vis­ibil­ity features in the park­ing light hous­ing.

My dad, perhaps because he was injured in an auto ac­ci­dent as a child, was quick to adopt safe­ty fea­tures as their bene­fits be­came ap­par­ent.  He in­stalled seat­belts in the cars he owned, start­ing with our 1949 Ford and con­tin­uing un­til the cars he bought came with fac­tory-in­stalled seat­belts.  He also put am­ber inserts in the front turn sig­nals of our 1956 De­Soto in the early 1960s, but that may have been just show­ing off.

Both Dad's 1966 Ford and my 1966 Opel were can­di­dates for Nad­er lights, so Dad de­signed and made light as­sem­blies with alu­mi­num bod­ies and am­ber or red lenses, that could fit nice­ly into holes made by the larg­est size chas­sis punch he could lay hands on.  The bod­ies of the lights were held in place by large di­ameter fine-pitched nuts which thread­ed onto the body of the as­sem­bly from the back.  Each as­sem­bly con­tained a bay­onet sock­et for a #57 (14.0 Volt, 0.24 Amp, 3.36 Watt) lamp. 

It takes some nerve and a con­vic­tion that you can carry through to take a cent­er punch and ham­mer and de­lib­er­ate­ly de­face a per­fect­ly good auto­mobile, then drill through the fen­der.  The larg­est chassis punch we used was so large we ac­tually had to use a small­er chassis punch to make a hole large enough for its screw.  


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