By on February 28, 2013

There are some automotive fads that we can liken to the leather jacket; a contemporary piece of clothing that has endured the test of time to become a staple of one’s wardrobe. The Hoffmeister kink may be the best example of an aesthetic detail that’s achieved this sort of ubiquity and acceptance. On the other hand, certain things, like denim shirts for men and a certain style of empire waist tops that were once labeled “tit curtains” by an old lady friend of mine ( due to their unflattering drape on her trim figure) have faded away after a few seasons in the department stores. The automotive equivalent of these unfortunate footnotes may be the “Altezza” or clear lens tail lights that were all the rage a decade ago.

The Altezza tail lights originated on the Toyota Altezza, also known as the Lexus IS in markets outside of Japan. Despite being sold as a Lexus, the Altezza was designed in part by members of the hachi-roku’s development team – the original, Corolla AE86, that is. Numerous boy-racer touches, like the chronograph style gauge cluster, the drilled aluminum pedals and the oversized wheels lent the IS a youthful sensibility that may have explained why the car never really did well. As a pubescent boy with a subscription to Super Street magazine, I thought it was the coolest luxury car money could buy and promptly bugged my father to buy one. All it took was one trip to the Lexus dealer, with him in the front seat and me in the back directly behind him, to convince me that I didn’t want to spend a second longer than necessary in the unbearably cramped rear seat.

Of course, none of that stopped the aftermarket from cranking out Altezza lights by the trawler-load. All of a sudden, everything from the usual Honda Civics to dubbed-out SUVs to the awful GM J-Bodies with egregiously oxidized rear quarter panels sported these dreadful contraptions in place of the stock lamps. Even though my idea of a chick magnet was an old Nissan 240SX spray painted rattle can black with a fartcan muffler and a whistling blow-off valve, I knew that Altezza lights were a step too far, an undeniable sign of poor breeding and limited economic prospects. If only I knew that the most nubile women in my cohort were attracted to precisely that kind of guy, and not somebody who read Tom Wolfe and still bought their clothes at Old Navy.

It wasn’t long before Altezza lights began to appear on other cars. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution’s first U.S. bound iteration was the first to feature clear tail lights, and even Mazda’s timeless MX-5 roadster succumbed to this awful trend, a problem which was mercifully rectified during the mid-cycle refresh of 2009. By that time, the whole “Import 2NR” crowd had died off thanks to the recession, the “Fast & Furious” movies morphed into generic action/car-chase flicks and the Lexus IS had become a rather staid option in the sports sedan segment.

As of now, only one car comes to mind when clear tail lights are mentioned; the Scion FR-S. Despite my complaints about certain aspects of the car, I love the way it looks – save for those damn clear lights. Though I suppose, given the car’s lineage, it is a rather appropriate choice.

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85 Comments on “Altezza Lights: A Retrospective...”


  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    The Subaru WRX hatch is also the only other car I can think of that comes with factory clear tails. I hate them so much. Whenever I see Altezza’s I think that the rear tail lights are broken.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      The Nissan Altima went to clear tails for its ’02 revitalization, and held onto them for a decade or so. Also, the S2000 had clear tails through its entire run.

      The knockoff Pep Boys specials with peeling chrome backing are rather ugly, but I’ll take a clear tail every time over some boring slab of red plastic.

      • 0 avatar
        jco

        the S2000 didn’t have clear taillights as much as there were two individual colored lenses within a clear outer lens. and the plastic bevel inside that was black rather than chrome-ish so the look is very different.

        you’re not alone in wanting an original Lexus IS, and then being disappointed by the lameness of the versions we got. i remember test-driving one with a friend, and it was just so BORING. but you can kinda sorta (it’s possible but apparently lots of work) swap in a 2JZGTE drivetrain, which vastly improves things.

        does anyone else remember the 100% clear taillight craze? I feel like that came slightly before the Altezzas. I remember seeing them on Hondas around ’97

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      Doesn’t the Lexus RX350 have them?

      I don’t see why not. White/chrome can be matched with more paint colors than clear red.

    • 0 avatar
      CoastieLenn

      My 2008 Mazda CX7 has them as do the current CX7′s.

    • 0 avatar
      doub

      Pontiac G8 had them as well. My dad has a G8 GT and one of these days I’ll convince him to pop for the Holden units…

  • avatar
    slance66

    Lexus RX 350s had clear tail lights too I believe.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      As does the Prius now (grrr). I was behind one in the morning commute, and the sunlight from behind me made it impossible to even see if the tail/brake lights were on or not – the clear lenses let the sunlight in and then reflect back out.

      Stupid design.

  • avatar
    Freddy M

    To me the only thing I found ironic about the Altezza tails and the unending hordes of aftermarkets they spawned was that for the most part a decade ago these still used incandescent bulbs, so they still required a red lens across the actual reflector itself. Big Fail IMO.

    Later on, with the growing popularity of LED systems, the need for the red lens slowly disappeared (i.e. on the Lexus RX as an example), yet ironically, the Toyobaru twins while using LED tails, STILL employ that red lens despite the fact that they could have used red LEDs.

  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    The Mitsubishi Outlander (non-Sport) still has a variation of them, as do the Lancer, and Toyota Tacoma. The Mazda 3 5-door also is inflicted with them, but only on certain, random trim levels.

  • avatar

    Those clear tail lights are better off gone, that’s for sure. I hated those in my face at stoplights.

    I was in Japan when the Altezza was being sold new and thought they were cool little cars with some nice touches. The chronometer gauges were especially appealing to me at the time, although these days IMO, they seem busy and complicated. I dunno, the whole care seems al ittle gimicky to me now that I am older which probably explains its slow sales – Most people who could afford a Lexus weren’t looking for this.

  • avatar
    jz78817

    taillights are only worth an eye-roll, IMO. The real villains are the dimps who put HID capsules in their stock headlamp housings and flood the area with glaring blue light.

    • 0 avatar
      Mykl

      I’m going to add “people who swap LED bulbs into tail lights designed for standard bulbs” to the list. Annoying.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I always hope the HID bulbs short out the stock housing and cause an electrical fire, burning, most likely, a mid-90s pile of garbage to the ground.

        Hopefully gym membership and whey protien prices will increase so Afliction/TapOut wearing “Bros” can no longer afford to modify their cars.

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          We had a guy who installed clear tail lights on a ML. The seals were not up to par. Water leaked into the car and damaged the control unit that operates the tail-gate until it caught fire. He eventually put the fire out. Kind of stupid, because the insurance company repaired the car instead of totaling it.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      Agreed, they are too cheap to do it properly with the proper housing. The halogen reflector is no good for HIDs and will just blind people.

      The blue light/purple light ricer-types are ridiculous too. That’s a danger to people on the road too, but probably less so, as the blue/purple tint on conventional lights just ensures that their headlights are dimmer.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    My 1st gen xB didn’t come with altezzas, but the ugly clear lens were close enough. Had the same effect, looked like something was broken or forgotten. The first thing I did was replace them with some, ironically, tasteful Chinese units off Ebay. These were LED, with crystal red lens.

    I liked them, but once installed, it gave the car a dated appearance. It now looked like an old Astro van from the rear.

    If you imagine what the IS/Altezza would look like with conventional tails, you kinda get a W124 Benz.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      My former xB1 had these lights as an option, which I bought. I rather liked them, and thought they were safer than the basic lights due to their clarity and brightness.

  • avatar
    cwallace

    I like the cheap, pre-faded Pep Boys specials seen on high-mileage beaters with regularity down here. Good call, that’ll fix the oil leak.

  • avatar
    froomg

    You all know that Chrysler started this whole thing back in 1965, right? It just took a few decades to catch on.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/greggjerdingen/5083947134/lightbox/

    • 0 avatar
      SilverCoupe

      Cadillac had them in 1964, the portion below the red fin lights.

      • 0 avatar
        froomg

        Dang, you are spot on with that. Those of us in Moparland forget about GM innovations.
        http://www.leftcoastclassics.com/1964-cadillac-fleetwood/extras/bodygallery/slides/1964-cadillac-fleetwood-7742.html

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        To my mind, neither of those qualifies as an Altezza — they’re just clear lenses over red bulbs.

        The key with the Altezza is that it has /two/ lenses — an outer clear lens covering both an internal, visible housing and an inner, red lens.

        • 0 avatar
          froomg

          Speaking for the New Yorker at least, it was a clear bulb, behind a red lens, behind a clear lens. Take a look at this closeup:
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/greggjerdingen/5083353381/lightbox/

  • avatar
    Mykl

    At least they’re generally easy to fix… for some cars people sell “red tint” kits that you can apply to the tails to make them look normal. This makes the WRX/STIs look significantly better from the rear.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      You can easily have pretty much any color tint put on any car’s taillights, so like you said, they are at least easy to fix. The red tint is a good idea, although I prefer smoked tinted taillights, probably because I am a child of the 80s. I hate the red light on my GTI, don’t know why they put factory smoked lights on the GLI but not on the GTI. But swapping them out for the R32 smoked lights is around $200, I don’t hate them that much. Someday I am going to have mine lightly tinted, just gotta plan on when I can disassemble the hatch plastic and remove them.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        mmm-

        Check out ECS tuning. They have precut Lamin-X film that goes on easy. I had Lamin-X on my MKV GTI lights. It think its around $50 for the tail lights. If you don’t have it on your fog lights, its a must. I had rocks break my fog lights twice before I bought the OEM Euro projector fogs and put Lamin-X on them.

        • 0 avatar
          mnm4ever

          Yeah I have seen those. But I tried a cheaper version of the pre-cut film (3M thick stuff) and couldn’t get the compound curve worked out, wasted $20. It is surprisingly difficult to both heat and stretch it in 3 different directions at once (damn my only 2 hands!). It will cost me $50 to have them done professionally so I figured why bother with a $50 kit?

          I haven’t had a problem with the fogs, and I wish I had. I wanted an excuse to buy HID projector retrofit fogs. I wish I had done my headlights though when the car was new. Now the headlights have a lot of tiny stone chips in them.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Fair enough. I didn’t do the tailights, so I can’t vouch for the ease of installation. The front lights and fogs were pretty straightforward. I can see how the tailights would be more of a hassle.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    As bumpy ii mentioned, the Altima was the first non-IS car I saw in the US with clear tail lights. I actually had to check the Nissan web site to see if they still come with them because they had them very recently (they don’t now). Oh, and I’m pretty sure you could get them on a Maxima starting in 2000.
    Other notable one – though with black housing instead of chrome – was the 2006 GTO and the G8. I hated my GTO’s so much I spent the money to get Commodore VX tail lights which look normal and excellent in my eye.

    Oh, and don’t forget the last gen Supra… so many people transplanted them onto other cars and it never ever looked right.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    The clear lights and the now popular angry headlight profile need to be gone as well. I will never understand how some of these abominations have caught on and uglified everything they were put on. I owned an IS and could never stand those tail lights. Make ‘em red for me.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I agree on headlights. I cannot understand why people think the droopy-eyelid thing looks good.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        Along with the big mouth bass grill.

        • 0 avatar
          juicy sushi

          It’s because everyone reads UK magazines with delusional claims that Audi are the best looking luxury cars. And as a result, everyone except Mercedes and BMW seem to think they need a large, Audi-style grille.

          I do not know why, and the best looking cars of every era clearly show this is not the case, but for some reason, modern stylists as a group seem to be idiots.

          • 0 avatar
            W113RHD

            Actually the LED lights are now a European Union requirement for new cars, and they have to be on in daylight. Did you think we were being admonished to save fuel – how much is that wasting?

            Copycat styling is nothing new but the safety requirment for fenders front and rear and the wind tunnel results push most European manufacturers towards the same shapes. One of the few freestyle pieces left to the individual designers is the shape and quantity of the fairylights.

            The other is the type of vehicle. Say your brief is a small 4 seat hatchback. Your blob will look the same as Ford’s blob, GM’s blob, VW Citroen etc etc.

            Only escape is to get that brief modified hence the Giant Mini – a standard mini with the vertical hold tweaked.

  • avatar

    Well, as long as the turn signals are yellow, it’s all good. Red turn signals are ridiculously stupid and materially dangerous, but the appearance of the lens is merely the taste of the owner. I remember checking out how much the “Euro” taillight was for my car (not IS 300), OEM asked $700. No. On my current car there’s not even the wiring to have decent turn signals as an aftermarket option, clear lens or no.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I prefer amber signals, but I don’t believe red ones are “ridiculously stupid and materially dangerous.” They are just not as good.

      • 0 avatar
        Johnnyangel

        This hits a hot button for me, to the extent that when I purchased a new car last year its’ having amber turn signals was an important buying criterion for me. Given the other safety nannying our government does, I fail to see why red turn signals are allowed.

        Why should they not be? Firstly because the amber is an unambiguous indication of an intended turn, whereas a flashing red on one side of a car can (and often does) mean that the driver is applying brakes and one brake light is burned out. Second because drivers in another lane, for instance, may only be able to see one rear light on a car when their view of the other is obscured by traffic; again, a flashing amber is a clear indication of an intended turn, or — in the case of four-way flashers — danger.

        U.S. regulations on this matter are therefore bizarre. And even more bizarre in the behavior of the German manufacturers who specifically swap out the ambers for reds they send to the U.S., presumably because some marketer thinks “it looks better.”

        If a company cares that little about my safety and that of other drivers — gee, amber pigment in plastic doesn’t cost more than red pigment, does it? — they’re sure never going to get my money.

        • 0 avatar
          brettc

          Doesn’t the family truckster in your avatar have red turn signals? ;)

          I won’t buy a vehicle with red turn signals. It makes no sense at all why any manufacturer (especially European) would equip a car with red signals. So what if it “looks better”? Amber is the correct colour for signals.

          It seems that a lot of Ford’s new vehicles have amber signals, which is a great trend so hopefully they continue it.

          I’m disappointed with what VW and Audi are selling with red signals. The ‘mericanized NCS Jetta and NMS Passat both have red signals. That makes me sad. The Golf based vehicles still have amber signals.

          It would be nice if DOT would change their horrible lighting standards and horrible mirror standards and adopt ECE standards. I just installed Aspherical mirrors on my Golf wagon and holy crap, what a difference compared to the crappy DOT mandated mirrors. Okay, rant over.

          • 0 avatar
            redmondjp

            I’m with you guys – yellow rear turn signals should be mandated. That fact that they have all but disappeared over the past few years is very disappointing.

            I still remember when most European and Japanese cars had them, not to mention redundant brake lamps on each side (Volvo, Accord, Lexus). Now I look at a $35K Accord and it has ONE dual-filament incandescent bulb on each side in the back – just the same as yesterday’s economy cars. What a joke!

            It’s cost-cutting at its worst.

          • 0 avatar
            Johnnyangel

            Er, yeah, red turn signals on my truckster!

            I couldn’t agree more on the unification of DOT/ECE lighting standards, and automotive standards generally. The disparities no longer make any sense, assuming they ever did (which is questionable). I guess it’s an unholy combination of protectionism and employment for bureaucrats who couldn’t find honest work, but you’d think that multinational automakers would at least lobby against it.

        • 0 avatar

          That’s kind of why I want to re-think the taillights on my ’77 Chevelle. they are long (about 23″ across – each!), and kind of squinty, but have a large area where I can put some strips of LEDs in there to act as 3rd brake lights, while leaving the standard incandescent bulbs in place to act as well… brake/turn indicators, but the LEDs would remain solid on for brake lights. ala Audi.

          It’s been interesting watching people pull up behind me in that car, as they are looking for the light in the center. Not really a fan of putting a 3rd brake light stand in the rear window.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            “It’s been interesting watching people pull up behind me in that car, as they are looking for the light in the center. Not really a fan of putting a 3rd brake light stand in the rear window.”

            This is frustrating to me. I was sitting shotgun in a car recently where the driver screeched to a halt and almost rear-ended the car in front because they claimed the car “didn’t have functioning brake lights” where I saw damn well it was only the CHMSL that doesn’t working. The driver completely ignored the normal brake lights in the tail lights.

            Last I checked, the high-mount was supposed to be a redundant safety measure, not the primary indicator.

            Also, the driver was younger than me, and I specifically remember when CHMSLs were not standard in cars, and he probably doesn’t.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          “flashing amber is a clear indication of an intended turn, or — in the case of four-way flashers — danger”

          To extend your analysis, a car using its hazards with one bulb burned out would incorrectly indicate that it is trying to make a turn.

          The problem confusing red turn signals with with brakes evaporates with the third brake light as well as the fact that brake lights are brighter than turn signals. There has to be so much wrong with a car to be unable to distinguish the two that odds are more likely the driver simply doesn’t use them.

          • 0 avatar
            Johnnyangel

            Lately I’ve been driving more than three hours a day and encounter the burned out brake light problem every other day or so. The third brake light is not always visible, and if brake lights are brighter than turn signals, that sure hasn’t been apparent to me in California light. I don’t think there’s any valid reason NOT to require amber turn signals.

            Of course the problem of people just not using their signals is a much greater one. That and the apparent inability of BMW to manufacture automobiles where the turn signals actually work!

          • 0 avatar
            Marko

            Except that using one bulb for two or three things will cause it to burn out more quickly. (Granted, less of an issue with LEDs.)

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        I’m not sure you can even categorically say they’re not as good. A decent number of cars with red turn signals in the rear flash a much larger, brighter light when signaling a turn. I could imagine size might compensate for color in terms of absolute visibility.

        (That being said, I too prefer well-designed amber signals.)

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Amber rear turn signals are the ones that are dangerous. From a distance you have no idea whether you are looking at the front or rear of the car. This is particularly true when it is foggy, something fairly common around here or during other low visibility conditions when the car does not have it’s running lights on. There is a reason that the law for amber lights in front of the front wheels and red lights in back of the rear wheels was made in the first place. Shame on the idiots who let the foreign companies get them to change the law so they could save a couple bucks.

      • 0 avatar

        What it’s foggy, you drive with your lights on. If you do NOT turn your lights on when it’s foggy, you’re the same who does NOT use the turn signals. In which case it does not matter what color they are. The fog argument is a total fail.

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          It didn’t used to be a law in California to drive in the fog/rain with your lights on until recently. Very bizarre that it took so long to catch up on this.

          When you drive on the east coast, sometimes you see signs that tell you to turn lights on when wipers are on when you cross state lines. People still haven’t fully gotten the message, and the automatic headlights actually work against compliance here.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            Not an issue of law–you’re just stupid if you don’t turn your lights on when they are needed.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            Agreed — just explaining why Californians are particularly weird about this, and it’s not taught in driver’s ed here from what I’ve heard. Everyone should be using headlights in rain and fog. Scoutdude’s argument was silly.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      They can be purple for all I care…The problem with most turn signals around where I am from is that people fail to use them.

  • avatar
    Marko

    Even a decade ago when I was in middle school I thought “Altezza” lights were cheesy and “played out”. That said, some cars pulled off OEM Altezzas better (Prius/Altima/S2000) than others (original Fusion, the very last Mercury Mountaineer – on both of those, they looked tacked on and threw off an otherwise solid design).

    Oh, and does anyone notice how 1998-2005 Lexus GS taillights fade from red to white?

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    08/09 Taurus Sable had almost 100% clear lights.

    The RX still has em!

    The CT has them.

    The 2011 9-3x had them (looked great).

    Citroen C4 has them.

    2012 Sentra has them.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I think it unusual that the company – or ANY company never manufactured a tail light piece for the 2000-2005 Impala to give it three tail lights per side; two red and the middle the back-up.

    I would’ve scarfed one up for my old 2004 in a heartbeat! Don’t think one could pull it off for a 2005-2013, though…

  • avatar
    cheapthrills

    I believe that the most important factor in the proliferation of terrible aftermarket Altezza lights is that they are FAR cheaper than OEM replacements. Think that late 90′s minivan sought out those stupid tail lights? It’s much more likely that one of the originals were damaged in an accident, and the ugly ones are $150/pair vs $300 each for a new replacement. If the car is of an age that it hasn’t filled junkyards yet, the ebay specials will be your best bet.

  • avatar
    replica

    I always called them fish tanks, due to their talent for holding water.

  • avatar
    redav

    Why not discuss the elephant in the room–those hideous separate, trunk lid tail lights? They were ugly when I first saw them, and they never got better. In fact, every set I see now have faded(?) so that they are pink at best, and often nearly white.

    But as for the clear tail light assemblies–I don’t like them, either and eagerly await their departure from the scenery. For one, I dislike their effect on the overall look of the car, but I also dislike their fucntionality. To have the clear housing, you need a colored bulb, and that typically consists of installing a film on it. That film can break down and/or flake off much faster than traditional colored filter lenses. Also, I remember reading some research that showed that colored lights inside clear housings were harder to see at distance than traditional assemblies. I don’t know the mechanism (could be glare, loss of light at film v. filter, how the light is focused, or who knows what else).

    So, they look worse, don’t work as well, and don’t last as long. LEDs can solve some of the problems, but from my own unscientific observations, they come with their own problems.

    I recently bought a first gen RX-8. It has clear tail lights that are quite ugly. I haven’t found any aftermarket replacements. Second gen lights don’t fit. There are films–red might look ok, but then I expect I’d lose white back-ups and the amber turn signals. Going with a smoked/tinted look generally is douchey, and I figure I’d have to replace the bulbs with something brighter to not lose visibility (and I don’t know how it would affect the colors). I’m not sure if there are any other options besides that.

    • 0 avatar
      Lightspeed

      I rather like the separated tail lights on my GS, but it’s because the theme is repeated on the front with the high-beams. My trunk lights are still cherry red, however that’s probably due to living where there’s fours months with little sunshine to fade them.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Note: If you have an 01+ GS, after the rear revisions, those don’t fade. The 98-00 years do have fading issues, turning pink. Mine’s an 01 and they’re still dark red.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Yeah the RX8 taillights are tough to change. I was only going to put a very light tint over my red lights, basically same as what the factory does on the GLI. You wouldn’t get the same effect with the clear lense unless you went dark, which would affect the brightness (and as you said looks douchey!) What some of the VW guys do is cover the lights but leave a circle corresponding to the backup lights and/or turn signals. Maybe you could do something like that with red tint? Or perhaps take apart the housing and paint the chrome portion of the bucket?

      If it helps, I don’t think the factory lights are ugly, they are not so “Altezza” looking since Mazda colors most of the bucket black with charcoal, similar to how VW did the headlights on my GTI.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Maybe “quite ugly” is too strong, but they are the weakest part of the whole car. I think it’s the horizontal ‘fins’ that do the most harm to the looks. If I take the housing apart, I might be able to simply remove the fins or paint them a darker color so they’re harder to see.

        When you say “paint the chrome portion of the bucket,” do you mean the parabolic reflectors? I’ve seen some photos where that surface appears darker, but I can’t tell if it’s real or just a trick of the camera. (A dark chrome there and black/no fins would certainly improve the looks considerably.) Or maybe I can try adding an amber tint on the turn signals’ reflector to spice it up without sacrificing function.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    How many months until we can have this same discussion about LED halos?

  • avatar
    fatalexception04

    I really wish the whole LED light in the headlamps trend would die off before the halos. It was cool when only audi did it, but now everyone does it. Even the hyundai santa fe has it, Lexus crammed them in there in the last IS. Its a trend that can’t die soon enough.

  • avatar
    StaysCrunchy

    Blech, I never liked them even when they were “cool.” When I saw the Ford Fusion for the first time I thought it was pretty neat… then I saw it from behind. Altezzas? On a brand new Ford? Why God, why???

    Those cheesy aftermarket lights looked bad enough on all the clapped out Civics and Grand Am’s, OE manufacturers didn’t need to join the fray.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Crap, I thought this story was going to be about tit curtains.

  • avatar
    hgrunt

    Derek–reading about what your taste in cars were back then reminds me of my own in the way that it matched mine completely. Thankfully, my dad never gave me that CRX when I turned 16, otherwise it’d be clapped out with a primered body kit and ill fitting Altezzas. Right now, I think BMW has the best looking taillights in the business.

  • avatar
    Justice_Gustine

    Can two wrongs make a right?

    Take the Altezzas and mod them with thin stripes of body colored tape to create a mini blind look of the 90s.

  • avatar
    markholli

    My daily driver is a 2003 IS300, and I’ll admit that I never liked the clear taillights before I bought it. I even considered replacing them with red lenses. But then I saw a few ISs (plural for IS?) with aftermarket red taillights, and it looked unnatural. It didn’t fit the original design language of the car.

    Verdict: Altezza lights may be played-out, but at least the IS should get some credit for originality.

    Verdict part duex: as pertaining to non-mechanical/performance related parts, stock is always better. Just one guy’s opinion.

  • avatar
    Prado

    “…and even Mazda’s timeless MX-5 roadster succumbed to this awful trend, a problem which was mercifully rectified during the mid-cycle refresh of 2009.” I actually when out to my garage after reading this. I’ll be damned… Altezza lights on my Miata! They are well executed if you ask me….so much so that I never even noticed. Since most cars have Altezza-ish headlights I do not see an issue with doing the same at the rear. The manner in which its done is everything.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      LOL…as a fellow Miata driver I can say that unless you have done some work under the hood no one is looking at our tail lights. Mazda apparently felt the same way as the crux of the NC refresh was focused on the smiley faced grill.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    Second thing I did upon delivery of my 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution (the first was to remove the wing) was to replace the ugly clear tail lights with JDM red ones. It made a huge difference in the look of the car.

  • avatar
    Cubista

    One of the best car reviews I’ve ever read anywhere was Brendan McAleer’s take on the Mazdaspeed3 on this site (http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/review-2011-mazdaspeed3-take-two/)…and it may be that being in my 40′s I’m misunderstanding just exactly what Altezza lights ARE, but they would appear to be “at home” on the MS3.


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