My electric headlight door conversion 1970


Here is my conversion in pics and a video.
I have seen better and worse installations. :wink:

First i was going to buy a kit available, but decided to try make it by myself.
Now i saved some $xxx and can buy something else to my Cougar. :jump3:

It wasnt that hard and only cost me about $90 in parts.
I used the Miata actuator used for $70, a adjustable rod in SS $11, and a relay $5. The other parts i had in my garage.
Most time took to figure out how to wire, make the bracket and make the lever to the actuator.

I am most pleased with the adjustable arm with a upper fork style joint, that made the rod absolutely vertical in line.
In the lower joint i used a heim joint or uniball, i dont know what you call it.

Still i have to make 2 new shafts for the springs, making them a little bit weaker.
Right now i have disconnected the springs, thats why the doors rattles hard when closing.

The key is to have the same meassure on the actuator arm (about 1.25" = 2.5" one rotation) as the stroke (about 2.5" open to closed) for the upper lever for the doors.
I didnt get the original actuator arm and made my own, i also bended it to get my arm vertical in line.

I also have a electrical sketch over the installation if someone else planning to do this and need it.

Here is a pic and a video from youtube:


Nice job. I like it.

I am very interested in more details of this Tom. This is one of the many things I want to do to my car.

Hello and thanks.

First of all i want to say that if you dont have time or isnt a little bit handy i recomend you to buy a complete plug and play kit.

But if you like me wants to do as much as possible, save money and like the felling when you created something that works.
Then i think you should do it yourself.

One of the reasons of that i did this is that i live in Europe. To buy this kit from The US would cost me much more than $3-400.
Shipping and customs duty is about $200. :frowning:

Another reason is that to refurbish the vacuum system is more costly than this conversion. Actually my vacuum system worked quiet well, but i had a minor leak that opened the doors after about 10 minutes. That annoyed me.
This conversion doesnt make any huge damage of the car, and to rebuilt the vacuum system back again is easy.

OK, here is some more info and my opininon about this swap/conversion.

First you have to get a actuator. A Miata or Probe pretty much same, same.
Maybe the colors of the wiring is different but the function is the same.

I bought mine from a scrap yard, it was a 21 y.o. actuator and looked like new inside when i took it apart.
Therefore IMO its not necessary to buy a refurbished one. Try the actuator before you buy it, if it works it will be good for this application.

There is left and righthanded actuators, it doesent matter which one you pic. You can mount the actuator on both sides in the car.
How you decide to mount the actuator is up to you, It can be mounted in several positions. Pointing forward, backward down in an angle or as i did mount it, straight down.
The reason for this is that the actuator is less visible. I bougt a lefthanded and it ended up mounted to the left side.

The miata actuator have 5 wires. One (green) isnt in use for this application. You have one 12v+ wire red/white, a black - ground.
Then it is one red and a yellow wire. When you have feed to either the red or yellow wire the actuator will rotate 180 degrees, a half turn.
When you engage the red wire it will turn 180 degrees and the door will open, and vice versa for yellow (close).
To shift between these wires you have to mount a switching relay, and get a signal from the headlight switch that the headlights is turned on. This signal you pick up from the headlight dimmer located on the floor. Maybe it sound complicated, but its quiet easy.

The attached pic shows a electrical sketch over my solution.

The actuator bracket i made from a piece of 6"x5" sheet, i recomend to use the same thicknes as the hood latch support. I did a 2" bend to get a L shape.
The actuators mounting space is 4"x6". You will maybe use other messures depending which way you prefer to have the actuator.

Fabricate the lever for the actuator is a little bit tricky. You have to meassure the travel of the headlight door lever (open to closed doors).
This meassure you divide in half. Make a arm with this meassure cc from actuator axle. You also have to bend the arm to get it to line up with the rod from headlight lever.
Also the actuator axle is with splines and can be little tricky to secure. I used M8 ½" bolts to the rod/lever joints.

I used 3 M6x50mm bolts for the miata actuator (7/16 head bolt 2" long)
and 2 M8x25 mm bolts for the bracket to hood latch support (½ head bolts 1" long)

The relay i mounted in the left corner behind washer bottle in a existing stock drilled hole (nearly unvisible).

Always have the battery disconnected when working with this parts.

Is this understandable or do you have more questions?
Excuse for my worse English, it isnt my first language. :wink:

Your English is fine, I didn’t have trouble understanding anything you said. It’s a good explanation! My question is for the mounting bracket you made, how thick is the metal? Strong enough to handle the stress of the motor movement, yes?

Hello and thanks.

My answer: Time will tell, :wink:

If you use same thickness as hood latch support i think it will last, but i have a back-up solution for it if not.

Im going to use the lowest of the bolts holding actuator and drill a hole in the hood latch support,
put a longer bolt and shims/tube between the actuator and hood latch support.
It will be like a box and strong enough for sure.


Use a 10 amp or 7.5 amp fuse for safety reasons, if something,like a hand, gets caught in the grill, the motor will not stop. A lower amp fuse will blow and stop the motor. I know this from experience. LOL


Due to radial flex (upp and down) of the headlight door arm i added some copper tube and a rubber grommet to stabilize it.
Ive seen other use brass fittings but i think this will work too.

I also moved the spring holds about 3", now they are little softer and the doors closes smooth.


Nice job Tommy :thumbup:


For those of you who want to do it yourself:
1969 1970 electric headlight door conversion.


It looks like you put tohether a nice system. Well layed out. It’s great that you did a step by step “how to” so other Cougar owners can make this conversion. Well Done!