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Decipher tail, parking, back-up, and license light lens codes for American cars, light trucks and motorcycles made between 1930 and 1970



Download 1960 Glo-Brite Catalog - Click on red arrow at bottom of page
This site is non-commercial  -  Nothing is for sale

What's covered here
< Tail lights, parking lights, back-up lights, and license plate lights.
< OEM (original equipment manufacturer) lenses.
< Period aftermarket (replacement) lenses.
< American and Canadian cars, light trucks and motorcycles from 1930 to 1970.
What's not covered here
< Headlights and interior lights.
< Imported vehicles.
< Heavy trucks, tractors, trailers and buses.
< Vehicles older than 1930 and newer than 1970.
Note
< Pictures are from various sources on the web, mostly from eBay advertisements.  In some cases the information provided by those sources has been verified; in others it has not.  You should do your own research to determine the correct application for your item.

Here's what to do
Step 1.  Find Your Lens Code
Look for a series of two to five letters, or a combination of letters and numbers, one or two of which are the last digit(s) of the year.  (Check the gasket surface if you can't find anything on the outside of the lens.)  We'll call these first few letters or numbers key letters or key digits because they will identify the make and model of the vehicle your lens will fit, or will at least point you in the right direction if you need to do more research.  These key digits and letters are shown in BLUE in the examples that follow.


General Motors OEM codes from 1941-up start with the word Guide, which is a GM brand.  The first digit indicates the make:  1 for Chevrolet, 2 for Pontiac, etc.  Other digits indicate the model and/or year.  Go to "GM Guide Charts" to see how this works.  Examples:

GUIDE R-1GUIDE R-58GUIDE R4-53 GUIDE R3-57A
GUIDE 16 SAE STD 69

Other OEM codes, including GM codes prior to 1941, often start with the first letter or letters of the make (CHEV for Chevrolet, PLY for Plymouth, etc.) or with two digits representing the year, followed by the first letters of the make or model, or in the case of 1962-up Ford codes, the first and last letters of the make or model name.  Go to "Ford Charts," "Chrysler Charts" or "AMC Charts" to see how these codes work.  Examples:

CHEVLITEFRST-55PLYBIARBO
PONTRAYSAE TSDB 62 FDSAE STDB 64 DSAE DBST 66 AR HL

Some codes look like acronyms but the letters probably don't mean anything.  They're mostly from the 1930s-1940s.  Examples:

DELONULANTORAYO

Aftermarket numbers aren't really codes (you can't decipher them) but we'll treat them as such for convenience.  Many are just two or three digits, but some have letters before or after the digits.  Glo-Brite codes often start with the letters TMC; Do-Ray and Ser-Do codes often start with the first two or three letters of the make.  Brand names and code letters may not appear on some lenses.  Examples:

GRIFFIN 82K-D TRIFLEX 265LYNX-EYE T-337GLO-BRITE TMC-2205
FO-146SER-DO CH-216

SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) codes can tell you the lens functions and the year.  In the following example, the functions are S(top) T(ail) D(irectional), in other words, a tail light.  (We don't know what the B means.)  The year is 1968, which is the model year for which the vehicle was first produced.  The lens could have been used in subsequent years or for other vehicles without a change in the code.  If this was an aftermarket lens, the year could be for first production of the lens, rather than the vehicle, thus aftermarket year codes cannot be trusted.  Example:
SAE STDC 68

When searching this site, SAE codes should be omitted (Guide lenses and aftermarket), or omitted except for the two-digit year portion (all others), which should be separated from the rest of the code by a space.  Examples:

Guide and AftermarketAll Others
Code on lensSearchCode on lensSearch
GUIDE 16 SAE STD 69GUIDE 16SAE STDB 64D64 D
TMC-1001 STDB 631001

If there is a prefix before, or a suffix after the key letter(s), try searching with a space before or after.  If that doesn't work, try searching without a space.  Examples:

63 A FD or 63 AFD
68 D L or 68 DL

Part numbers, which are usually about seven to ten digits, can be ignored for our purposes.


Step 2.  Identify Your Lens
OEM Codes.  If your lens is marked Guide or Guidex, refer to "Guide Codes."  For all others, including Ford, Chrysler, AMC, independents, and Guide prior to 1941, refer to "Other Codes."  Then…
Aftermarket Codes.  Refer to "Aftermarket Numbers" 1-200, 201-400, 401-700, 701-1000, or 1000-up.  Look for your key digits, then look for the format that most resembles yours.  Don't be concerned about letters like T or B or TMC, which may or may not occur, but do note letters on Do-Ray and Ser-Do lenses that indicate the make (CH, FO, PL, etc.)  To confirm your ID, use the Taillight King or Google Image Search, or go to the Photo Galleries.

   
 Tips and trivia 
 Helpful hints and marginally useful information 
   
 Tail lights have lenses, not "covers."  One tail light has a "lens".  People outside the U.S. may call it a "lense."  People named Leonard are called "Len." 
   
 Most Guide and Guidex lenses are for General Motors vehicles, but some may also fit Checker, Packard, Studebaker, Harley-Davidson, and others. 
   
 Studebaker codes in the late-40s and 50s are generally letter-number-letter or number-letter-letter.  Examples: T6C, T9G-6, 3HD, 5HT.  For those starting with a letter, go to "OEM Codes A-J" or "OEM Codes K-Z" as appropriate; for those starting with a number, go to the bottom of the "K-Z" page. 
   
 SAE STDB does not mean Studebaker.  See "SAE Codes" in Step 1. 
   
 On Guide and Guidex lenses, don't confuse the key digits with the year.  For example, Guide 68 SAE STD 65 is for a 1965 Cadillac, not 1968.  See "GM Guide Charts" to learn how this works. 
   
 Aftermarket lenses may have year codes that are not reliable.  Glo-Brite 321, for example, is marked SAE STDB 60 but is for a 1957 Ford.  Trust the number not the SAE code. 
   
 A few OEM codes look like aftermarket numbers, so you'll find them in the Aftermarket pages with a note indicating they are actually OEM. 
   
 Automakers went from glass lenses to plastic in the late 40s-early 1950s.  If your lens is glass, and doesn't have a year code, it's probably 1951 or earlier. 
   
 If your parking light lens is amber, it's 1963 or later, unless it's aftermarket.  Some aftermarket lenses are made in both clear and amber versions. 
   
 Bezels, buckets and housings often have codes that are similar to lens codes.  This also applies to headlight buckets and housings, which may have the letter "H" in the code. 
   
 1970s and later codes are similar to the 60s, but they're harder to spot among the DOT codes and part numbers that have been added over the years.  Also, the letters for model names are different, and GM has gone back to a number/letter format, but Ford is still F, Dodge is still D, and Chevrolet is still #1, in codes when last we checked. 
   
   

             
  Make and Model Names Cross Reference  1930-1970  
  Not comprehensive        
             
  Name See Also   Name See Also  
  AMC Rambler (1957-66)   Lincoln Continental (1956-58)  
  Buick Marquette (1930)   Mercury Meteor (Canada 1949-61; 1964-76)  
  Cadillac LaSalle (1927-40)     Comet (1960-61)  
  Chrysler Imperial (1955-75)   Nash LaFayette (1934-36)  
  Comet Mercury Comet (1962-77)     Rambler (1957-65)  
  Continental Lincoln Continental (1959-up)   Oldsmobile Viking (1929-31)  
  Ford Monarch (Canada 1946-61)   Packard Clipper (1956)  
    Edsel (1958-60)   Plymouth Valiant (US 1960, Canada 1960-66)  
    Frontenac (Canada 1960)   Pontiac Oakland (1909-31)  
  Hudson Essex (1919-31)     Acadian (Canada 1962-71)  
    Essex-Terraplane (1932)     Beaumont (Canada 1966-69)  
    Terraplane (1933-37)   Rambler Nash Rambler (1950-56)  
    Rambler (1957-65)     Hudson Rambler (1954-56)  
  Imperial Chrysler Imperial (1926-54)     AMC (1967-up)  
  Kaiser Henry J (1951-54)   Studebaker Rockne (1931-33)  
  LaFayette Nash LaFayette (1937-40)   Terraplane Hudson Terraplane (1938-39)  
             
             

        
 Electrical System Conversion Schedule   
 6-Volt Positive to 12-Volt Negative    
        
 195319541955195619571965 
 BuickBuickChevroletGM trucks (most)WillysHarley- 
   Super  SpecialPontiacFord Motor Co   Davidson 
   Roadmaster Packard*Chrysler Corp   
 Oldsmobile  American Motors   
 Cadillac  Studebaker   
 Chrysler  Packard   
   Crown Imperial*  International   
        
 *  Converted to 12-volt positive initially; converted to 12-volt negative in 1956  
        



Thanks to Ralph for inspiration and encouragement.
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