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 > Technical Articles: / BMW E36 3-Series (1992-1999) >
Euro Ellipsoid/Angel Eyes Installation on Your BMW

Pelican Technical Article:

Euro Ellipsoid/Angel Eyes Installation on Your BMW


2-3 hours






Wire crimping and striping tool, soldering iron and solder, wire connectors, 16-gauge wire, Philips and flatblade screwdriver, electric drill and 1/8-inch drill bit

Applicable Models:

BMW E30 3-Series (1984-93)
BMW E36 3-Series (1992-99)

Parts Required:

Euro Ellipsoid/Angel Eyes headlights

Performance Gain:

Headlights that light a brighter path ahead and look cool while doing so

Complementary Modification:

Install HID foglights
101 Performance Projects for Your BMW 3 Series

This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's new book, 101 Performance Projects for Your BMW 3 Series. The book contains 272 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to timing the camshafts. With more than 650+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any 3 Series owner's collection. The book was released in August 2006, and is available for ordering now. See The Official Book Website for more details.

One of the most popular of the sporty upgrades for both the E30 and E36 cars is installing the European ellipsoid headlamps. The U.S.-spec headlamps are a sealed-beam unit that is inferior to the European version. The low beams on the European lamps have an ellipsoid lens that focuses the beam of light in a more direct pattern and also uses brighter bulbs. The difference between the U.S.- and Euro-spec headlamps can be dramatic, particularly for people who drive at night on very dark roads. The Euro headlamp upgrade is popular with both the E36 and E30 cars, although this particular project will specifically cover the E36 install. (The E30 installation is similar in scope.)

Although these lamps are supposed to be used for off-road use only, there are thousands of people who drive with them on the road every day. Back in the early part of this century, the U.S. government decided sealed-beam headlamps should be required on cars and trucks. This was to prevent moisture from entering into the headlamp and corroding the reflector, creating a dim lamp. The regulation has stuck until this day; thus, most of the cars sold in the United States have different headlamp systems than their European counterparts. Many people incorrectly think that the law limits the wattage of the lamp, but it really dictates the sealed-beam enclosure. On the flip side, it's also true that European headlamps do corrode and become dim much faster than the U.S.-spec lamps.

In addition to the installation of the Euro-spec headlamps, many BMW owners use the opportunity to add a unit that has built-in angel eyes. Sometimes also called "demon daylight eyes," these are circular light rings that surround the lamp and are hooked into the parking lamp circuit. They give off a unique glow and give the car a distinct, aggressive look. BMW first used these light rings on the late-model E39 5 Series cars. You used to have to purchase a separate kit with the rings and install them in the European headlamps, but now it's very easy to purchase the whole assembly with them pre-installed.

Installing Euro-spec headlamps is really very easy--all you need to do is swap in the new headlamps and tap into the wiring. The European headlamps use a different harness than the U.S.-spec lamps, so you need to order a few harness components in order to install the headlamps. Table 1 and Photo 1 both show the parts that you need to install the E36 Euro-spec headlamps in a U.S.-spec car.

Assemble the wire harness according to Photo 4 and Table 2. Use simple wiretaps (available at almost all hardware stores) to connect the new harness to your existing wire harness. The new lamps are simply bolted into the same place as the U.S.-spec lamps and are identical in size and shape. Test your new units before you reinstall the screws and fasteners.

With the new headlamps installed, you will have to adjust the beams to light the road properly. There are two adjusters on the back of each assembly that adjust horizontal and vertical leveling of the lamp (see part E of Photo 4). The adjuster in the middle accounts for vertical height of the beams; the adjuster on the edge of the lamps controls the horizontal positioning. Move these adjusters carefully, as they are made of plastic and can break if you overtighten them.

Take your car to a parking lot and park it about 15 feet from a wall. Aim the headlamps at the wall. For left-hand-drive cars, the left lamp should be aimed slightly off to the right and down a bit from level to reduce the glare that falls into oncoming traffic. The right-side beam should be pointed straight ahead. Use both the adjusters on the headlamps themselves and the adjusters that the mounting screws feed into (yellow arrow, Photo 2). These can be turned in and out to change the level of the headlamps. Fine-tuning of the beam can be accomplished using the adjusters on the headlamps themselves.

Table 1



Part number



Euro lamp connector




Connector boot




Connector pins




Wire taps

hardware store

Table 2

My harness


Controls lamps

Chassis harness
color, left side

Chassis harness
color, right side








Parking lamps





Low beams





High beams



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Figure 1

Shown here is a European ellipsoid headlamp kit manufactured by Inpro. The headlamps in this kit contain the standard European high-beam/low-beam lenses with the addition of the angel eye rings on the outside. In order to make this kit fit into the U.S.-spec cars, you will need a harness connector, four small harness pins, four standard wire taps, and a rubber boot.

Figure 2

Removal of the headlamp is an easy job. Depending on which year car you have, you may have to remove the front plastic piece that covers the radiator (see Photo 1 of Project 34). Unplug the two harness connectors from the back of the lamps, and remove the side marker lens (see Project 71). Then remove the five screws that attach the lamp to the chassis. The ones on top (yellow arrows) have small plastic adjusters that may spin as you try to remove the headlamp--use a 19-millimeter wrench to secure them in place. The two screws at the bottom of the assembly will need a ratchet and an extension to remove (red arrows point toward them; see also Photo 3). With the screws removed, you should be able to pull the headlamp out.

Figure 3

It's a somewhat scary sight with the headlamp removed. Shown here are the three headlamp adjusters from the previous photo (yellow arrows). Note the spot where the lower two screws mount to the chassis (red arrows). The high-beam harness is indicated by the green arrow; the low-beam is shown by the orange arrow. The purple arrow points to the side-marker lamp harness.

Figure 4

Here's a step-by-step photo array of the harness assembly. A: Begin by stripping the wire and crimping it onto the connector. For added security, solder the connection in place with a soldering iron. B: Crimp and solder all four wires, using 16-gauge wire (and different colors) for each one. Create the left and right harness at the same time. C: Insert the connector into the back of the headlamp to determine which pin fits where. Wire the pins according to the instructions included in the wiring table in the main text. D: Shown here is the wiretap (blue arrow) installed on the parking lamp wire harness. The purple arrow points to the parking lamp wire, which is on when you first pull the headlamp switch. The yellow wire connects to the angel eye bulbs in the new headlamp assembly. E: The main wire harness is shown by the yellow arrow. Don't forget to slide on the protective rubber boot before you start tapping into your chassis harness. The red and green arrows show the adjuster screws for the low and high beams. F: The finished product is very cool. The angel eyes look just like the factory ones on the late BMW E39 5 Series cars.

Comments and Suggestions:
Bob Comments: I have a 2006 BMW 325IX touring and I recently purchased a set of white LED bulbs for my halo lights. They worked great for about 4 days. Then when I was bleeding the cooling system they started to flash and when the bleed was done they were not working at all. Of course after this my burnt light warning light was beeping every few minutes. I put one of my originalsyellow light back in which stopped the beeping. Why would they burn out and what bulb do I need to repair this once and for all?
January 1, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I have no experience with adding LEDs to tungsten bulb equipped vehicles. I can guess that the current on the circuit was wrong and either burned out the bulb or the circuit itself. I would check with the bulb manufacturer to be sure they are suitable for BMWs. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Mike Myers Comments: I have a 1993 BMW 318 is. Took a small impact the left front bumper all my lights work except my headlights. This is an E36 European model fuses are good where do I go next?
May 19, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check if the ground for the headlights was damaged. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Mickey Comments: Hi, I am buying the depo angel eye headlights from europe but i'm not sure they fit australian '97 318is coupe?

Secondly, i don't think it includes a PNP harness but im not sure; The headlights just come in a box. Do i need to buy a harness And will it be usable without the harness?
November 29, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don;t have any of that info. I would check with the seller in Europe. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Sal Comments: My car was in minor accident and my Euro Ellipsoid lamps where totaled. What do you recommend for temporary installing U.S. Lamps on an E36 that already has the connector for the Euro Lamps. I do have the connectors for the 9005 and 9006 bulbs. Can I splice them to the existing connector? What is the proper wiring procedure? Tap-in connectors?


Awesome Website!!
June 28, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would buy the right sockets, then crimp and shrink the wires. This is the best way to rewire it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Zig Comments: @Aavi Left/Gauche Right/Droite. It's english/french.
March 29, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the input on this one. We appreciate the help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
DrewS52 Comments: My brother gave me his 87 e30 ellipsoids, but I have a 91 e30 with the sealed beams. My problem is installation. Since I only have the low beams, I tried to use sealed high beam on the plastic bracket but wont fit. I tried to put the ellipsoids on the metal bracket but still would not fit.
What can you suggest?
December 13, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Can you fabricate a bracket or use parts from the donor vehicle? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Aavi Comments: I got a set of Bosch Euro Ellipsoids and the Low Beam housing has L/G and R/D marked on it. What do they stand for?

Is it true that for US Left Hand driven cars I need to turn the housing to L/H? currently the slot is resting on R/D.

March 21, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Here is a helpful reply from a community member:

Left/Gauche Right/Droite. It's english/french. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Rhyme Comments: Hey, I have a set of euro ellipsoids for my e30, but I only have one euro lamp connector... Is the part number for this the same as the e36? This is the one i have.
October 10, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not sure - I guess you could always just tap the wire into the original harness... - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Johno Comments: Have you a tech article on replaceing rear drive shaft axle bearings? Not the main centre drive shaft bearing.
June 18, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There are a few articles on wheel bearings in our main articles section. None that have photos at this time though... - Wayne at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Fri 2/16/2018 02:11:32 AM