Question from Zan:
I was checking out the 1971 dealer brochure and noticed a feature I've never heard mentioned once on IML: the Headlight Washer! Does anyone have one of these that works?
Once again another example of something that was purportedly invented in the 80's which came on Imperials early. How many years was this feature offered? Did it work well? Does it look weird when the headlamps are open?
If nothing else, since it is not visible when the headlamp covers are down, it is much more appealing than the 80's euro trend where they are visible wipers.
My 1971 Imperial LeBaron, now a parts car in the Elijah Scott Collection, was equipped with the automatic headlight washers. They were a delightful feature.
When not in operation, the washer system wasn't visible to the average, on-road observer. Each set of lights had a brush, black, which rested between the headlights, whose bezels were also black. Each set of lights had a nozzle, very small, that lived beside the brush. Even when the headlight doors were open, the system was practically invisible.
However, with the headlights lit at an intersection on a dark, messy, winter day, pressing the "Windshield Wash" button for a three seconds, and the headlamp washers would spring into action. Cleaner would splash and the brushes scrub earnestly across the low-beam lenses. Interestingly, the cleaning process would be projected as shadows on the road ahead.
The wipers and windshield washers worked at the same time as the headlight washer.
Other drivers often noticed the show, and the headlight washer system was probably the most requested demonstration during my ownership of the car.
As Dave mentioned, his former '71 Imperial (now my parts car) is equipped with the headlight washers. I haven't actually seen them in action yet, because they are vacuum actuated, but I plan to eventually place them on my other '71 Imperial. They system looks pretty neat -- the two washers are each driven by vacuum canisters, and the cleaning fluid is supplied by a reservoir just for the headlights. Pretty neat stuff!
BELIEVE IT OR NOT... I have a television ad for a '69 CHEVY(!) Caprice that offered the headlight washers as an option! It also had an interesting option called "Liquid Tire Chain" which could be squirted onto the tires, activated from the driver's seat, supposedly to free one's Caprice from snow and muck. I guess it didn't work very well, as I don't know of many 2000 model year cars that offer this feature!
Question from Jonathan:
I have noticed that on some of the '69-'73 models, the option of a headlight washing system is offered. I was wondering if anyone knew precisely which years actually had this option? It seems to me that in those years it was offered, it was a pretty rare item. I've noticed that on the '72, even if it wasn't offered, the points where the mechanisms would have been attached are still there. It's also an idea that doesn't seem to have been adopted by auto-makers until Volvo added it to their prototype "safety car" of the 1970's. I know that one of you must know the answer to this.
I *think* that the headlight washer option was available from '69 through '73 on the Imperial. I'll have to do a little research to verify this, though.
My '71 Imperial parts car does have the headlight washer option, and it's pretty nifty.
I worked in a salvage yard during the late 70s/early 80s and parted out a lot of Mopars. The only car I ever saw this option on was a 1970 Plymouth Fury coupe. The washers consisted of a curved brush that look a lot like an eyelid with lashes, a vacuum motor to move the "eyelid" and a spray nozzle. I don't remember seeing any special knob on the dash. I think the system worked automatically if you cleaned the windshield while the headlights were on. I was fascinated by the system and should have saved it and all the plumbing but I didn't.
Regarding attachment points, this is usually the case. Sheet metal panels are often marked with dimples if a possible option goes there. Just trying to make things easier for guys on the assembly line, I guess.
The headlamp washers were also an option on the Dodge Charger in 1971 only. I believe the option also required the hidden headlamps, which came only with certain trim levels and packages.