4WD MODIFICATIONS - ELECTRIC & LIGHTS
There are driving lights, then there are good driving lights, reckons leading truck journalist Steve Brooks. ‘Hellava good light,’ is how he describes his Hella Rallye 4000 Xenons.
When you’re spearing through the night on a long and lonely road where the ‘hoppers’ grow tall and darkness hides menance to man and machine, the difference between the best and the rest can be lightyears. It’s a funny thing though, that when it comes to driving lights it’s easier to remember the duds.
Like most people who have spent more than the odd hour bolting through the backblocks in the dark, I’ve occasionally come across some ordinary driving lights. In fact, in my early life as an automotive journalist, I can recall some driving lights with all the penetrating power of a pair of Eveready Dolphins – not good, to put it mildly, and particularly perturbing when that lumpy stump just off the edge of the road suddenly developed four legs and a large pair of pointers, all intent on reaching the other side of the road.
There are memories, however, of some very good lights. I knew they were good because they never gave me reason to gripe or groan. My latest experience is with a pair of brilliant Hella Rallye 4000 Xenon lights, installed on the ‘bar of our LandCruiser V8 tray-top. Yet what really illuminates my high estimation of the new Hellas is that before their arrival I actually thought I already had a reasonably good pair of driving lights bolted to Tojo’s bullbar.
I’ll explain, with apologies for any indulgence: The good woman and I compete on horses: endurance horses to be exact, meaning we regularly travel far and wide in the pursuit of a sport which often sees events based in a big paddock in the middle of anywhere. Most competitions start in the deep black of very early morning or even midnight and obviously enough, that means we start each ride with lights on our helmets.
Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not about to suggest that Hella has developed an equestrian equivalent of the Rallye 4000s. What I will confirm, however, is that getting to some of these events often means many hours of country driving late into the night or in the wee hours of the morning, towing horses in a gooseneck trailer. Therefore, good driving lights aren’t a luxury, they’re an absolute necessity for avoiding not only the kamikaze behaviour of some creatures, but also for revealing the route and ruts of a skinny strip of dirt in a few thousand hectares of someone’s back paddock.
So, it’s no surprise that when the new ‘Cruiser arrived almost two years ago one of the first things to be added was a pair of driving lights. Fortunately or otherwise, a family acquaintance had earlier bought a pair of HID driving lights for his own off-roader and generously bought another set as a gift for our new tray-top. Or at least that’s what he told us, because he’s a cheap bastard and I reckon they came in a ‘buy one, get one free’ deal. But that’s another story.
Anyway, we had them fitted by a professional and to be completely honest, they threw what we thought was an impressively strong beam. Sure, it was a struggle keeping them in adjustment and the fact that it took 10 to 15 seconds for the lights to warm up and reach full intensity was somewhat disconcerting.
Then as chance would have it, the opportunity arrived to fit a pair of Hella Rallye 4000s and the difference is simply spectacular. I could waste words and space by detailing the technical specifications of Hella’s lights but it would all lead to the same conclusion which is simply that I didn’t think a set of driving lights could be so good. Not only is the beam far-reaching and bright, particularly from such a compact design, but they hit full intensity in a heartbeat. Adjustment was easy and, once set, they stayed in place on even savagely corrugated roads.
Our only wish is that they were made small enough and light enough to fit on a riding helmet!