The 5 Best Cars With Pop-Up Headlights

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Pop-up headlights on cars are still legal, but we just don’t see them anymore. To reminisce, we list the 10 best cars with hidden headlamps.

Want to take a trip down automotive memory lane? Read on to find out what features (other than quirky lights) make the cars in this list iconic.

5. Dodge Charger Daytona

Pop-up headlights Dodge Charger Daytona
  • Price*: from £213,910 (24,000 miles on the clock)
  • Power: 390bhp or 425bhp depending on engine choice
  • Engine: 7.0-litre Hemi V8 or 7.2-litre Magnum V8
  • Production: 1969-1977, 2006-2009

*Price based on current classic car retail listings.

In 1969 Fiat Chrysler decided that it needed to compete with the other aerodynamic cars being developed by the competition in order to succeed at NASCAR (The National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing).

So, out came the Dodge Charger Daytona in 1969, which was to succeed the less successful limited edition Charger 500. With a prominent rear wing spoiler that measured 23 inches high, an exclusive sheet-metal ‘nose cone’ front grille and pop-up headlights, the Daytona won its first race at the NASCAR launch event: the Talladega 500.

It went on to win another six races (another in 1969 and four more in 1970) to become a NASCAR champ. Today, the car is a trophy collectible (hence the high asking price) that’s rarely listed – and if it is, you’ll be looking at parting with six-figure digits to get hold of one.

4. Ferrari F40

Pop-up headlights Ferrari F40
  • Price*: from £949,950 (21,750 miles on the clock)
  • Power: 478bhp
  • Engine: 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V8
  • Production: 1987-1992

*Price based on current listings from AutoTrader.

It should be no surprise that a car designed to celebrate the 40th anniversary of a performance vehicle kingpin is as brilliant as at what it does as the Ferrari F40 is.

At the time of its production it swept all the superlatives for its own brand – fastest, most powerful and most expensive in its range. More importantly, the F40 was the last Ferrari to be approved by founder Enzo Ferrari, before he died in 1988.

As well as having the fun-to-drive mid-rear engine setup and accompanying rear-wheel drive, the F40’s low racing profile is given an extra bit of pizzazz by a set of pop-up headlights.

Fun fact: if you were to have ordered a bespoke Ferrari F40 from the factory, it would have cost you £250,000. This was a lot of money at the time, but prices soon shot up to more three times this much in the late ’80s as people bought and sold them.

3. Lamborghini Diablo

Pop-up headlights Lamborghini Diablo
  • Price*: from £125,000 (55,000 miles on the clock)
  • Power: 530bhp
  • Engine: 5.7-litre V12
  • Production: 1990-2001

*Price based on listings on PistonHeads

‘Diablo’ is Spanish for ‘Devil’, and the way Lamborghini toned down the outgoing Countach’s outrageous – though iconic – design certainly made it drive like a devil. Namely, wide fenders on the body, a gigantic rear wing spoiler and bonkers proportions were all softened to offer a more uniform look.

Getting rid of these parts made it more aerodynamic and meant that it could reach a top speed of 201mph – 5mph faster than the 196mph target that was put into the car’s design brief.

Famously, the Diablo retained the Countach’s pop-up headlights that add to the whole character of the elongated, aerodynamic bonnet.

2. Porsche 911 ‘Slantnose’

Pop-up headlights Porsche 911 Slantnose
  • Price*: from £264,995 (24,854 miles on the clock)
  • Power: 374bhp
  • Engine: 3.4-litre turbocharged
  • Production: 1985-1989

*Price based on current classic car retail listings.

1985 was a good year. Not only did Marty McFly and Doc Emmett Brown treat us to a DeLorean time machine (which you can read all about here), but Porsche did something radical – it changed the iconic look of its iconic 911.

Instead of having the signature prominent wide headlights on the outside, they were given a pop-up function that meant they were hidden in the bonnet when they weren’t being used. The result was a much cleaner look that arguably made it appear dangerously less innocent.

As a Turbo model, this 911 was still at the tippy top of the German manufacturer’s performance range. In fact, it was its fastest production car, a feat which now belongs to its ultra-modern relative 911 GT RS (top speed of 211mph).

1. BMW M1

Pop-up headlights BMW M1
  • Price*: from £478,810 (6,184 miles on the clock)
  • Power: 274bhp
  • Engine: 3.5-litre straight-six
  • Production: 1978-1981

*Price based on current classic car retail listings.

BMW had a moment of brilliance in the late 70s when it produced the M1. At the time it was unlike anything the car had built, and it’s safe to say there won’t be another car like it again.

Essentially, the M1 was a well-groomed racing car that could perform on the road. Does its design look familiar? Well, it should, because the production of its chassis was left to Lamborghini, which happened to know what it was doing when it came to producing mid-engined supercars.

The Italian brand also knew a thing or two about using pop-up headlights, which it brandished on six of its cars throughout the 60s and 70s, with the M1 an exception only because it’s christened with the Bimmer badge.

Just like the other cars in this list, the old school M1 is hard to come across. Many buyers were collectors that put them in museums or stored them away as low-mileage collectibles. So, you won’t be surprised to see that it’s original $115,000 price tag (approx. £88,252) has now soared to an eye-watering £478,810 – one of the few examples of the model we could find listed.

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Want to read more about classic cars? Head over to the Moneyshake blog for more auto-related nostalgia.