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It is a feature I love and one which spells foreign car – exotic even. But I have always wondered why they were yellow. Without finding an answer.

So: If anyone out there knows please let me know – comment below!

2 Responses

  1. Ferdinand

    In 1939 yellow light bulbs/ headlights became mandatory in France. Studies on traffic accidents had shown that driving with yellow light in foggy and rainy conditions was safer than driving with regular white light. It was already known at that time, that yellow light is less prone to dazzle oncoming traffic, and for that reason all motorists in France had to have yellow bulbs installed into their vehicles. Tourists or foreign motorists could choose to change bulbs or headlights with yellow glass or put on yellow headlight covers.

    The yellow tinted bulbs has a reduced output compared to white light bulbs, but due to the materials and technology used in light bulb production earlier on – Tungsten – for instance – the output was only reduced by 10% compared to white light bulbs. Today’s yellow bulbs has an even bigger reduction – 20% – due to other materials and technology (halogen bulbs).

    Some say, that yellow light was also introduced so that the French people could distinguish their cars from especially German cars (WWI was still very much on the mind of the French people – and Adolf Hitler was well on his way with rebuilding the German army during the 1930ies – the German invasion of Poland took place in September 1939 -the German invasion of France didn’t occur until May 1940.
    During WWII the French resistance used yellow lights on their cars because they knew that a car with white light wasn’t French – and was therefore considered an enemy. They hadn’t thought about the Germans would just paint the headlamps on their vehicles to disguise themselves – but there is no actual proofs of these sayings.


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