Front and rear lights are often described by marketing types as being like eyes on the face of the car. Its true really, as they’re usually the first thing you see out on the public roads and therefore highly important to the brands image. A lot of effort goes into creating a recognizable shape, however, over the years, there have been quite a few successful models that decided not to bother with all that, and the testing that goes along with it, instead just borrowing another vehicles lights. Due to the front and rear lights being so important for differentiating cars from other models, its rare, but here are a bunch of cars that did just that!
1. Aston Martin Virage – VW Sirocco Mk2
What does the Aston Martin Virage have in common with a second-generation Volkswagen Sirocco? Both cars are coupes. Both use petrol. That’s is about it! Hang on a second though because there is one interesting detail many car enthusiasts overlook – the taillights. The Aston Martin Virage used the same taillights as the Scirocco Mk2, and they fit so perfectly to the back end of the Aston that nobody noticed. If you ever get a chance to own a Virage and if you need to replace the taillights, don`t go to an Aston specialist, ask your local Volkswagen dealer for help or search for some Volkswagen lights on eBay.
2. Callaway C12 – Vauxhall Tigra
The Callaway C12 is a famous American tuning house and has been at the forefront of turbocharging tech since the late `70s. Over the years, Callaway has produced many incredibly fast Corvettes, and in the mid-`90s, the C12 debuted. Based on Corvette C5 architecture, the C12 was an extremely fast and capable sports car with a unique body built in house.
Despite sharing the mechanical underpinnings of a corvette, Callaway wanted to distinguish itself and to do that it needed components to hide its Vette origin. The taillights were sourced from Europe and oddly, borrowed from an Opel/Vauxhall Tigra.
3. Invicta S1 – VW Passat
In 2004, the once famous British company Invicta was resurrected and introduced their new model, the S1. The car was a sports coupe with handsome styling and supercharged V8 under the bonnet good enough for 600 HP. The design was modern and sleek, and everything would be perfect if it weren’t for the rear lights which were nicked from ordinary Volkswagen Passat. Invicta just tilted them on the side, which managed to hide the origin of the part, but eagle-eyed fans soon realize that this part was sourced from straight out of Germany.
4. Bova Coach – McLaren F1
The mythical McLaren F1 is a car of many descriptions, and even today, the level of craftsmanship and technology onboard is still amazing. However, even the multi-million dollar F1 shares some of its parts with much more mundane cars and vehicles. The turn signals came from the Lotus Elan, pretty nice! The rearview mirrors from a VW Corrado, still nice… The rear lights though, actually came from the Bova Coach Bus! Yes, the characteristic four round taillights are in fact lifted straight from a bus. Who would have guessed?
5. Vauxhall Cavalier Mk3 – TVR Griffith
If I was to tell you that parts from the economical Cavalier from the early `90s were installed on TVR`s punchy Griffith roadster, you might think I was joking. The V8 Griffith, running from 1991 till 2002 was one of the most successful TVR models of all time. Its taillights though, were nicked straight from the Vauxhall Cavalier Mk3 (or the Opel Vectra in Europe) simply mounted upside down! Genius! Still, the fastest Griffith could reach 60 mph in around 4 seconds, probably the fastest any Vauxhall or Opel has been!
6. Rover 200 – Jaguar XJ220
The Jaguar XJ220 was an enormous step forward for the company and one of the fastest cars of its era. In fact, it was so good that Jaguar engineers and designers were too busy working on the mechanics and aerodynamics of the car to think about distinctive taillights. Not a problem. When the car was done, they called their friends from Rover and asked to borrow a few pairs of Rover 200 rear lights. The stoplights fit perfectly. Cleverly, Jaguar simply added a piece of plastic trim which gave them a more menacing look and then called it a day.
7. Toyota AE86 – Lotus Esprit V8
One of the strangest cases of shared taillights is between Lotus and Toyota. Lotus have always used parts, engines, and components from different companies, so it’s not unusual to find Ford, Renault or Rover parts used with the Lotus badge. However, for the later version of their famous Esprit, Lotus used the distinctive Toyota AE86 rear lights, which somehow look totally different on the back of the Lotus. Very few people ever recognized that, understandably so.
8. Nissan 300ZX – Lamborghini Diablo
Sharing taillights is, as you can tell, a pretty common occurrence in the world of car manufacturers. Sharing headlights however, is a bit more challenging since the front lights are considered an integral part of unique design language and identity of the brand. Usually, its tough to implement them in another car successfully but Lamborghini managed to pull it off when they borrowed a pair of headlights from the Nissan 300ZX. The Diablo was initially released with pop up headlights, but towards the end of the production run that trend was clearly over, and thus they needed fixed headlights as soon as possible for the later production cars!
9. Morgan Aeromax – Lancia Thesis
One of the most intriguing companies in the sports car world is of course the legendary Morgan. Stubbornly (and rightfully) holding on to very specific construction, design, and manufacturing methods, Morgan became famous for its unique cars which combined retro flair with modern technology. In 2009, the company presented the beautiful Aeromax coupe, based on the Aero 8 roadster. The car featured a specially designed streamline roof and different rear end. To complete the design, Morgan borrowed the LED taillight design and assembly from another `2000s styling legend – the Lancia Thesis sedan.
10: MG Xpower SV – Fiat Punto
Produced for just two years, between 2003 and 2005, the MG Xpower SV is a largely forgotten British muscle car which was assembled in Modena and finished in the UK. Powered by American V8 supplied by Ford, its pretty wacky. The MG Rover group invested heavily in engineering and the design, but since this was a low volume model, some components needed to be borrowed from other cars. Funnily enough, its distinctive mean-looking headlights were in fact taken from Fiat Punto Mk2. To be fair, it works very well!