A Guide to Porsche 911 SWB Headlights

The following headlights were used on Porsche 911 Short Wheel Base 911’s:

  • Hella U.S. Sealed Beam
  • Bosch Rest of World (RoW or Euro)
  • Bosch H1’s
  • Bosch H4’s (commonly used on SWB cars but not correct)
  • Sugar Scoops


Note: H1’s were standard on 1968 S models beginning with 1180026 (Coupe) and 11850065 (Targa).

Porsche 911 SWB U.S. Headlights

swb us headlight

DOT regulations in the U.S. mandated that sealed beam headlights be used during the period that the SWB cars were produced. They came with a Hella bucket, a clear Hella lens and a sealed beam unit.

Hella Buckets

hella us bucketHella buckets were used in the U.S.. The had two adjustment screws in the chrome bezel, one at 1:00 and one at 7:00. You can tell the date of production of the buckets with the code written under the SB 19 lettering. The buckets pictured above have the code “C 40″ which indicates a date of October, 1966. The ‘C” stands for 1966 – Porsche used a lettering system that started with “A” for 1964, “B” for 1965, and on up. The “40” designates the 40th week. Another thing distinctive about the Hella buckets is that they have one small opening (louver) in the bottom of the bucket for drainage. Buckets used outside of the U.S. were made by Bosch and have three louvers.

Hella Lenses

hella us lensHella lenses are relatively flat and were numbered at the bottom with SB19 SB20 SB21. These were a continuation of the lenses used on 356’s, which were marked SB19 SB20.

us headlights







sealed beam

The bulbs are generic 7″ sealed beam units. These are mounted in the housing behind the clear lens in the front and are held in place by a retainer ring. Sealed beams are now available with Halogen elements but, strictly speaking, are not correct for the early cars.


Later Enhancements

The sealed beam bulbs were not very bright and when the H1 and H3 halogen bulbs arrived manufacturers came up with inventive ways to use the single filament halogen bulbs. Automobiles of course required separate lighting for low and high bulbs so assemblies were made that would accommodate two bulbs and two reflectors, one for the low beam and one for the high beam, similar to the Bosch H1 headlight, except these were 7″ units that inserted right in to the Hella sealed beam unit.

The most sought after dual bulb, dual reflector assembly is the Cibie Bi-Iode which was used on the 911R, 911ST and 911RSR. Another sought after one is the SEV Marchal Amplilux also with two reflectors and two bulbs (one H1 and one H3). Both of these have become rare and collectible over the years as they had relatively short production runs and were made in low quantities.


The beautiful Cibie Bi-Iode headlamp used by Porsche on the 911R, 911ST and 911RSR.


Cibie’s with P45T Bulbs


Very Cool Marchal Amplilux Yellow Lenses for Italy







Dual Filament Halogen Bulbs

In order to increase brightness, 7″ units resembling the sealed beam units but with accessible bulb sockets are used. Initially P45t tungsten bulbs were used, the same  bulbs used like in the Euro headlights. When the dual filament H4 halogen bulb was introduced in 1972, it was possible to replace the tungsten bulbs with H4 bulbs. H4 bulb units are commonly used in SWB cars today, even in show cars, but are not strictly correct given that H4’s weren’t available at the time the cars were produced.

Porsche 911 SWB Euro Headlights

euro headlights

A pair of SWB Euro headlights. Note fluting on the right, indicating these are for RHD cars.

Bosch Buckets

Bosch buckets were used for the SWB Euro headlights, the same buckets used for the H4 headlight assemblies to follow. Similar to the U.S. headlights, they had two adjustment screws, at 1:00 and 7:00 with the mounting screw at the bottom of the assembly.

Bosch Lenses

bosch euro headlight lensEuro headlights use asymmetric fluted lenses, somewhat similar to the lenses used on H1 and H4 assemblies. The fluting is directional and on the same side as the driver. LHD cars have the fluting on the left and RHD cars on the right. The optics are Fresnel, the same technology (invented in the early 1800’s!) that is used in most lighthouses in the world today. The lenses have a much flatter profile compared to the profile of H1 and H4 lenses.


Bosch Reflector

The reflector, made by Bosch, is bowl shaped and is identical to the reflector used in H4 assemblies today, It “floats” in the housing, mounted on two rubber bushings. The adjustment screws have tangs that insert into the bushings.


P45t Tungsten Bulb

P45t Tungsten Bulb


The bulbs used were dual filament tungsten with a P45t base, usually 40/45w. In 1972 H4 halogen bulbs were introduced and ones with the P45t base can be used in the original Euro assembly without modification.



H1 Headlights for Porsche 911 SWB

H1 headlight assemblies were first introduced in 1966. There were offered as a factory option by Porsche for model year 1968, but they are correct for earlier cars as they were an after-market add-on.  There’s a wealth of information about H1’s on this site HERE.

flying a© 2015 ~ Audette Collection ~ Bend, Oregon
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