Project E36 M3 - Xenon Headlights with Angel Eyes March 23 2014

Our E36 M3 had the plastic US spec headlights, and they had gotten hazy and it was getting hard to see the road at night. We had tried using headlight polishing products, but the haze came back a few weeks later. We got on the phone with BavToys and spoke with Mike. He was very helpful and willing to educate us on what our different options were. We placed an order and this is our unbiased review of the Depo lights that we ordered.

Hazy headlight lenses.

This is how our original headlights looked like, and it was getting hard to see at night. It was time for some new headlights. We originally went with ZKW's with halogen bulbs, since they have the highest reputation for form, fit and function. However, when we placed our order for Euro ellipsoid ZKW's with halogen bulbs, but the ZKW's were out of stock. We talked to Mike, who assured us that Depo headlights were built to the same standards as the ZKW's, but at a better price.

The Depos were designed for xenon lights, so we would upgrade to xenon bulbs as well. The tricky part would be finding a place to mount the ballast units. Mike said that some people use double sided tape to stick the unit under the bumper, but our standards are too high for that.

New Depo headlight box.

We had our order revised to Depo headlights with xenon lights. We wanted a white OEM look without any blue. We had originally wanted the 5000K bulbs, but Mike said 6000K is actually closer to OEM, and it would make our E36 M3 match our E46 M3 factory xenon units better. 

New Depo headlight.

Here are the lights unboxed. They look great, and have a glass front, which is great for optics and durability. Angel eyes come already installed in the unit, so you don't have to break open the unit to install them yourself. This is one of the times where it seems easy to break something the first time you open it up. so it makes sense to let the people who do it every day handle it.

Back of Depo headlights.

This is the back of the unit with the wiring and the ballast unit shown. We ended up cleaning up the wiring. Since we have a xenon unit instead of a halogen unit, the grey connector is not needed and we removed it. The wires were too long as well, so we shortened them.

Plastic cover.

This plastic cover was also not going to be acceptable, so we fabricated a new one out of aluminum, painted it black and used it as a mounting location for the ballast unit.

Modified headlight.

Here is how the unit looked like after we cleaned up the wiring. Before this, we had test fit the unit and found that the wires made a jumbled mess. With the deleted and shortened wiring, the wiring was much neater. We have high standards for form, fit and function. This carries through everything we do, from the shirt designs we make to the quality of shirts that we print on.

Hole misalignment.

We have heard a lot of stories about people breaking some of the plastic on the Depos upon installation. Our theory is that the ZKW lights fit better to the car, and therefore, no wrestling is needed to get the headlights to fit. The Depos on the other hand had some issues where we couldn't get it to fit right. We compared the hole spacing to the OEM headlights and noticed some differences.

Hole enlarged.

We ended up having to enlarge the mounting holes to get the headlights to fit without any preload. We marked the area we needed to cut with white-out correction fluid and started filing away at the plastic. 20 minutes later, the hole was appropriately sized.

Headlight fitment.

This is the headlight installed. You can see that the xenon units added to the back of the headlight make it come very close to the air filter without much room to spare. 

E36 with angel eyes.

Our car looks years younger with the new headlights installed. The 6000K bulbs are a bit too blue for our liking, but are not obnoxiously blue. They look good from outside the car, but from a functional standpoint, we'd probably be able to see better with 5000K bulbs. They are bluer than our factory E46 M3 xenons.

Pros: Looks good from outside of the car. Sufficient light output. Smooth beam pattern with good cutoffs and no hot spots. Better value than some other options.

Cons: Needs some massaging to achieve good fitment. Workmanship and materials on the back of the unit could use improvement. HID's will not match high beams or foglights in terms of color. Fault code will be thrown for headlights. There is a way to disable the codes from being thrown, but that also disables important functions, such as low coolant level warnings.

The bottom line: A mid-level priced product with mid-level quality. If were were to do it all over again, we'd go with ZKW's and stick with halogen bulbs so that the headlights will match the foglights and high beams, and so that we wouldn't get error codes.


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