Not all project car tweaks and mods need to be major, sometimes it is nice just to ‘fiddle’ with the car, simply for the sake of it. Exhibit A: swapping out the perfectly functional H3 Halogen fog-lamp bulbs for a new set, in yellow!
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the fog-lamp, and despite the 190E being an Australian-delivered model, I felt a little bit of European ‘yellow lamp’ flair couldn’t hurt.
As a general theory, yellow wide-beam fog lamps are considered to be less stressful on the eyes, as the softer light reduces glare from water droplets and condensation in the air. Moreover, yellow light has a longer wavelength than blue or white which makes it inherently more visible to the human eye, despite not being as bright.
In 1936, France went a step further and requested that all cars run yellow lamps, so they were easily identifiable from cars registered to other countries. The European Union put a stop to this in 1993, making it illegal to drive a post-93 car with yellow main beam lights.
As it was, even French market W201 Mercedes didn’t score yellow main beams, and in fact, most of the yellow fog-lamps I have seen for sale are from the North American market. So I can safely say that my little tweak is nothing more than cultural appropriation.
Factory yellow lamps on the 190E have a yellow parabolic reflector inserted into the sealed lamp unit, and since I’m not ready to start pulling things totally apart, I opted for the slightly more simple route of a yellow-lens bulb swap.
As this was conducted on a bit of a late-night eBay-browsing whim, my new H3 bulbs are of the no-name variety and cost the princely sum of $7-shipped. I’ve kept the original bulbs for when these ones no doubt stop working at some point in the near future.
The W201 has always considered to be a massively over-engineered vehicle and considering development started in 1974, before even I was born, the setup of the headlamps is amazingly modern.
There are two metal clips that secure a rubber-sealed outer cover on each of the lamp assemblies. This can be removed without tools, or even disturbing anything else in the engine bay. The inner fog-lamp bulb is held in place with another two clasps, and has a single, socket for its power lead.
Taking care not to touch the glass, the replacement bulbs were in place and shining within about five minutes. The fog-lamps activate as a stage-option from the parking lights (where the lower driving lights in the AMG bar only come on with the high beam).
The result? Well, they are yellow. So, ah, success?
I will say the lamps aren’t particularly bright when compared to the LED units on modern cars, but there’s a hint of yellow behind the glass when the lights aren’t on, and a definite yellow wash when they are. A cheap but ultimately satisfying modification.
It has been enough to tide me over until the next spot of attention, which will require a screwdriver (at least); the replacement of the working-but-not factory Becker radio, with a new-old-stock identical unit – which arrived this week! In the next update, I’ll fit this and replace the speakers with modern units, but maintain the factory grilles.
In the meantime, check in those storage cupboards and garage shelves as I’m keen for any cassette tape submissions you have!