Reversible Conversion of 2nd Generation Dodge Stealth R/T Twin-Turbo to European Specifications


The Status Of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in Germany is such that it was unecessary to modify my Stealth to meet European vehicle regulations while stationed there from 1998-2002. Unfortunately, England is not so forgiving and changes are necessary for the car to meet the UK's Single Vehicle Approval (SVA) guidelines (note: as it turns out, I only needed a MOT inspection). The information below describes an attempt to satisfy government regulations while minimizing changes to the car that are permanent or otherwise expensive to reverse.

The Front End: Clear Running Lights, Headlight Adjustment

Vehicles must have clear front running lights with amber front indicator lights active only when signaling a turn. This was achieved by redirecting the low-intensity leads from the amber turn signal modules to a pair of small lights siliconed beneath the grill bar. No drilling necessary! Also, as the 2nd gen Stealth/3000GT/GTO projector headlight modules are the same for left-hand-drive and right-hand-drive markets, a simple realignment was sufficient.

Lighting modifications to the front were straightforward.

The Back End: Amber Rear Turn Signals, Red Fog Light

The stock Stealth R/T Twin Turbo has a red combination running/turn/stop indicator light module on each side of the hatch lid: low intensity red for running lights, high intensity red for brake lights, and alternating intensity red for turn indication. There is also a red LED brake light in the spoiler and two reflector/reverse light modules on each side of the bumper. To pass the UK inspection, amber turn indicators must be installed and the red turn indicators must be disabled. A red rear fog light is also required.

One suggestion was to replace the white bulbs in the reverse light modules with amber bulbs, install a rear fog light / reverse light module under the bumper and rewire. Instead, I chose to modify the reflector/reverse light modules to include amber LEDs for turn indication, and I replaced one of the clear reverse lamps with a red lamp to serve as a rear fog light. The result is a nearly stock look (no additional lights hanging under the bumper) with no sacrifice in rear clearance (nothing to bust off when I back into a parking space with a tall bumpstop).

The first concern was clearance behind the reflector/reverse light modules. LEDs require less mounting depth than most other lights, but there was a chance that the reflector was mounted flush against something behind the bumper that could pose a problem. As it turns out, the mounted LEDs do not extend beyond the back of the module, and even if they did there is lots of room back there. Hmmm, maybe a tailgating countermeasure mod would be more fun... spray oil? drop tacks? :-)

lots of space behind reflector/reverse light modules

All that was required for this mod were two new reflector/reverse light modules (unless you're willing to modify your originals) and a set of amber LED turn indicator strips. The OEM modules are Mitsubishi part numbers MB698945 and MB698946 (there are VERY subtle differences between the left and right sides) and list at about $40 each through any Dodge dealer (or mail order from Mitsubishi Parts Direct). I found the LED strips at Golden RODtronics for about $100 a pair.

(photo courtesy Golden RODTronics, Golden, Colorado)

One of the LED turn indicator strips was DOA, so be sure to test things out before installation. The power and ground leads are [intentionally] installed backwards in the PC board and the negative wire had to be resoldered to correct what turned out to be an intermittant contact. Once working, these things are really bright! A slick product.

The LED turn indicator strips are designed for flush mounting, with the LEDs positioned behind a plastic lens that can be shaved flush with the mounting surface. The lens is 1/4" wide, so a dremel tool was used to cut a slot in the reflector through which the LED lens could slide. A dremel was also used to cut out the reflector module backing so the LED unit could poke through. Once everything was tested for fitment, the lens was epoxied to the LED unit and the LED unit epoxied to the reflector module backing (NOT to the reflector lens, in case the lens needs to be replaced or otherwise separated from the backing).

completed module

close-up of installed module

perspective view of installed module

Now for the fun part: wiring. For the rear fog light, I would like to install an additional fog light switch in the knock-out just below the existing front fog light switch in the dash and run the wires back to the red bulb I swapped in place of one of the stock white reverse bulbs. However, it appears that the knockout is actually already a part of the switch (non-functional) and that this may not be an option afterall. Has anyone experimented with an additional switch here? If so, please let me know! For now, a cheap illuminated switch is inconspicuously installed in an existing bolt beneath the dash.

switch for rear fog light can be installed in knockout below front fog light switch

As is mentioned above, the stock combination module switches between off, low and high intensity signals. Only three wires are routed to this module: one for ground, one for low intensity and one for high intensity. Signals for brake and turn indication are combined on the high intensity lead, complicating separation and rerouting to our amber turn indicator LEDs.

stock wiring for rear combination lights
(red tape are for ground wire splice and low intensity wire splice)

By cutting the wire from the brake switch to the turn signal and hazard flasher unit (beneath the fuse box in the left-front kick panel), the lines running to the high intensity bulbs in the combination lights activate only when turn signals and hazards are used. Those wires were then rerouted to the amber LEDs, and the high intensity bulbs in the combination lights were connected to the 15 Amp brake circuit (I ran a new lead back from the brake signal wire clipped from the flasher unit rather than trying to tap into the lead running to the high mounted stop light in the spoiler).

wiring schematic for rear lighting

Unfortunately, the LED strips have a very narrow beam pattern and are not bright enough from some angles. To increase visibility, four LED strips were built from scratch and mounted inside the reverse lens at the top and bottom so as not to block the reverse and rear fog illumination. The clear reverse lenses disperse the light and the signal is visible from all angles. If I had this project to do over, I'd just go with these LED strips ($25 in parts) and skip the flush-mount modules in the reflectors.

Reverse (left) and fog (right) lights illuminated.

Turn indicators illuminated, as viewed off-axis.

Update: 2008

1) MOT regulations for side markers now require that indicators be visible when standing at arm's length from the rear bumper.  1999 front indicators have a bulge that satisfies this, so I went that route rather than pursuing potentially irreversible modifications to the sides of my car.

2) The climate has taken its toll on the LEDs described above, so I recently bought two 83 x 54 x 30mm plastic boxes for electronics projects, four 1156 bulb sockets and amber, red and white LED bulbs on eBay and implemented a slightly different but equally effective approach:

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