How To Install 1937 Ford Tail Lights onto a Model A Pickup

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The Venerable ’37 Ford Tail Light Finds a Home Bringing up the Rear of a Ford Model A Pickup

By Brian Brennan – Photography by Author

There’s an old adage about “being seen and not heard.” Well, that has a significant impact (excuse the pun) when you are driving a hot rod and the subject is your tail lights. In this day and age it really doesn’t matter how many tail lights your hot rod came with, you should have two and if at all possible the LED style with their incredible brightness is an ideal way to go. When building our ’28 Ford Model A pickup there was little doubt that two tail lights would be far better than a single. But we didn’t want to go with a Model A type twice over. What to do? In talking it over with Dean Livermore of Hot Rods by Dean he suggested a pair of ’37 Ford tail lights. He has done this exact swap a number of times in the past and it always turns out to be very good looking. So, we did.

02 model a taillights led
There are several options on the ’37 Ford tail light from Speedway Motors (PN 911-37091-R or 911-37091-R). The driver side has white LED lights for use with a license plate while the passenger side is all red.

Read More: Installing LED Lights on Your Classic Truck

Back in the day a Model A would have had a single taillight from the factory but it was a common practice for Ford to recommend to dealers to install a second tail light on Model As as a way of selling more product and boosting safety. It was also recognizing the fact that several states had already mandated that all new cars sold should have two tail lights. The proverbial handwriting was on the wall. It wouldn’t be long before all Detroit-produced iron would have two tail lights.

04 model a taillight
In its prescribed fashion the tail light with its license plate light will need to be spun around 180 degrees as the light and plate are changing perspective to one another from their original use. More on this later.

In this story we opted to have Livermore handle the chore of fabricating the necessary mounts to hold a pair of ’37 Ford tail lights onto the Model A pickup. The venerable ’37 tail light is no stranger to the hot rod world as it has found its way onto many a build. (One of the many topflight builders who would use the ’37 tail lights often was Barry Lobeck. I witnessed many of his builds with this compact and good-looking fixture.) The light is compact and well-shaped, making it a great addition to the tail end of any hot rod. With the advent of the LED tail light, brightness is no longer an issue and they historically last longer than the traditional #1157 dual filament bulb with a lumen ratio of 10 to 1 in favor of the LED.

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Read More: Bumpside Ford Evolution

05 model a plate mount
The way the system will work on our Model A is it will have the ’37 tail light above the plate, hence the light must shine out of the bottom of the light when it is installed.

We visited our Speedway Motors catalog and came away with a pair of ’37 taillights, one for the passenger side that didn’t have the license plate LED bulbs within (PN 911-37091-R and 911-37091-L). These lights are 12V and come with three wires: green for stop/turn, black for tail light, and white for ground. These LED lights can be ordered separately, but should you need two make sure to get one for use with a license plate should the lighting be needed. They come with 17 super-bright-red LED lights, the one requiring light for a license plate comes with six white bulbs, a polycarbonate lens, and solid-state circuit boards designed for 7.7 to 14.0 V/DC.

06 ford model a parts
Get out the masking tape and figure out where you want the tail light to ride (position and height) before doing anything else.

Follow along with the photos and you will see how we mounted each LED tail light and addressed the lighting for the license plate. We think you will agree that this is an excellent solution for any hot rod that doesn’t have fenders but needs to resolve the tail light situation. MR

Speedway Motors
(800) 979-0122

Hot Rods by Dean
(623) 581-1932

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