Posts tagged ‘ZL1’

July 19, 2013

Hella 90mm Projector Driving Light Mod on 2012 Camaro Convertible (ZL1)

The factory daytime run lights (DRL) offer little light for driving purposes. I looked at possibly upgrading them with LED, but that is mostly just color/looks and would not help much for illuminating the road. Additionally, I like the way projectors look in the front vs the bland / cheap factory DRLs.

So as a part of my ZL1 front end conversion, I set off to upgrade to projectors. This is no small mod, it requires proper cutting and drilling of the factory ZL1 bumper cover.  AAC offers a 90mm hella ( upgrade kit with HID that runs about 350$.

I picked up 4300k slim ballast 35 watt H7 HID kit ( for 69$ and two hella 90mm projectors ( for 61$ a piece.

Outside of a couple o-rings and relays, it puts me at about 191$ for the upgrade. 200$ for HID projector DRLs got two thumbs up from me.

So, the task is to make this:


Look like this:


The HID bulbs won’t be using the H7 twist locks.


I yanked the H7 bulbs and removed the rear plate from the projector via 3 torx screws.

I then dremeled that part down to the outside radius.


I left enough of a lip to make the o-ring land for the bulb to seal against.

I then took a piece of 26 gauge steel I had laying around to cut out plates that will be used to seal the bulbs to the light.


Once I had two plates cut, I then used the rear plate and an awl to etch the main hole and 3 screw hole locations.


I hit them with black marker to make it more visible to the camera


I reused the same pilot hole with a smaller hole saw to cut the center hole for the power wires of the bulb to go through.


I spray painted the plates with a coat of primer on the front and back.


Then after they dried, I put a 15/16ths inch I.D. o-ring around the base of the HID bulb. (careful not to touch the bulb, oils and dirt will shorten the life)


The fixture’s back plate goes on the fixture, followed by the bulb, then the new retaining plate and then it all gets screwed down. I had to use longer stainless steel screws, due to the added length.


all screwed together, it tightens the o-ring and seals the bulb.


Finally, the rubber seal is cut down on the pigtail, removing the H7 pigtail and only leaving a piece to silicone to the HID bulb base.


The factory bumper has to be cut to facilitate the hella fixture.

The cut-out is important to conform to the black base of the light, as it will be the primary orientation and support method. Particularly important are these indexing triangles.


Carefully, test fit, cut and re-test until I got the right depth to allow three key things: 1: The top of the glass lens to just rest against the black light fascia

2: The unit to rest at the bottom of the bumper cover, like a cradle.

3: The unit to stay level with the ground [using the 4 black tabs that form a square to gauge the angle.

Start with this:


Watch the triangle indexes on the black base


The outside corner adjustment hole should JUST overlap the corner of the bumper cover. This is critical.


Once things are trimmed, the front black fascia is removed from the front bumper cover to allow drilling without damage. 3 holes must be drilled in the bumper cover to either zip-tie or mount support springs to the 3 orange mount holes on the fixture. (you can see one in the photo above.)

Additionally, 2 holes must be aligned and drilled with the two big adjustment holes in the bottom side of the black base of the fixture. These will have the be the right size to allow the black inserts from the adjuster screws to fit.

The hella kit uses up to three screws to adjust the light angles.


Once the holes are marked and drilled, this is the result.


and with the adjustment clips installed


The adjuster screws were inserted into the fixtures and bases of the screws rotated to the “locked” position.


The front black light fascia was re-installed to the bumper cover.

I used zip-ties, some people may want to be romantic and use stainless tension springs to the holes. Meh.  So, zip-ties were used to tension the light to the bumper cover. (not crazy tight but not loose that would allow vibrations under road trauma) Only enough play has to remain to allow minor adjustments with the screws.


Adjusters, in the hole.


The HID ballasts were all plugged in and mounted to the bracket, which I bent the tab and screwed to the top of the light installation area.  Then zip-tied the cables together. (Note, I hope there is is enough room to clear when installed on the car, I did not check this yet.)


Installed, the front looks like this:

fog29 fog22

July 6, 2013

ZL1 side rocker puddle lights

So the ZL1 side rockers came in today. +1 for RPI Designs (, they included all the various clips and the paint job looks great.

I modified the side rockers to now include four puddle lights a piece and tied them into the dome light circuit.

To create the puddle lights, I used;

Two 1$ cutting boards from WallyWorld. (
A pack of silicone RTV. (–clear-rtv-silicone-adhesive-sealant-detail)
A tube of pure silicone from WallyWorld. (
Some aluminum tape. (
Some spare intercom wire. (
An old expired credit card (or gift card).
1/2″ heat shrink tube
Cut LED light strips from the interior light kit. ( (More on this below)


Starting from the front of the side rocker, I marked four lines on the inside of the rockers, at 16″, 32″, 48″, and 64″ with a black Sharpie. These are my center lines.

On the cutting boards, I trace the credit card to make 8 outlines with a black Sharpie.


On the credit card, I draw a 1/2″ boarder inside the charge card edges with a black Sharpie to make a smaller square. This is cut out with a dremel to make the cut template for the side rockers.


With the inside removed from the charge card, the card is centered on the previously marked center lines and the outside edge of the charge card is aligned with the curve of the side of the side rocker. The Sharpie is used to trace the square previously made inside of the charge card. Repeated for all 8 windows.


The dremel is used to cut the windows out of the cutting board and the inner windows from the side rockers.



The edges are deburred. From all parts using Sandpaper, razor blade or dremel.

I cut my interior light strips. I only used two sections (one segment on left, one on right) per seat area as they were very bright. This left 8 potential segments for something else.

There are cut marks on the LED strips from the manufacturing. Each cut line has two copper solder spots to attach wire. You just have to carefully trim the silicon top off of the contacts but not the LED area. This was done on all 8 pieces.

siderockerlights-small strips

Each of the 8 windows previously cut on the zl1 side rocker were roughed with 80 grit sand paper on the inside.

Each of the 8 windows cut from the cutting board had a bead of silicone RTV drawn around the perimeter, then attached over the window on the side rocker.


The process for the led strips is as such;

Take a length of wire (I used about 8′). Solder to one side of the first led strip. Take 1″ of heat shrink and shrink it over the wire and led strip, careful not to cover the actual LED. Now draw a big bead of silicone rtv over the LED strip and heat shrink.  Center this over the last (furthest from door hinge) window and mash it down. Now flatten the LED down to window and draw your finger around the perimeter to make sure the excess RTV forms a good air-free layer around and below the LED strip.


Now measure the length to the next LED strip, cut the wire, and solder to the led strip. Slide another 1″ piece of heat shrink over and secure.  Now solder the remaining length to the next terminals on the other side of the LED strip. Heat shrink that side. Add a big bead of RTV to LED strip and attach/run finger again. Repeat this for the final 2 LED strips on the side rocker, then repeat whole process for the other side rocker.

Let the RTV cure overnight.

Here is what it looks like, lit up.  The next step will block the light as well as reflect more of it down to the ground.


Take the tube of silicone and squirt a whole layer over the entire LED strip and window assembly, making sure to get in and around the heat shrink tube, as well as the edges of the window and covering the assembly.

Place several lengths of aluminum tape over the silicone, covering all of the LED and window assembly. This will act as a reflector as well as use the silicone for waterproofing. Do this for all windows.


Let cure at least over night.


I used the dremel to make a small notch where the rocker will meet the car, just below the front corner of the door sill protector. This allowed the power wire to route under the door sill without being pinched.

Ground went to an interior bolt and power went to the grey wire coming from the end grey connector of the BCM behind the brake pedal.

ZL1 Side Rocker Puddle Lights Video