Headlights can make or break a car’s design. They’re one of the most important aspects of a vehicle’s looks, which is why we’ve dedicated an entire list to them. These are some of the coolest headlight designs out there.
1 of 25
Most headlights are round, but not the Chiron’s. The cluster shape is a big rectangle, and the daytime-running lights are squares. It makes for one seriously menacing package.
2 of 25
Aside from having a transversely mounted 16-cylinder engine, the Cizeta V16T also has four individual pop-up lights. Because one set was simply not enough.
3 of 25
The P1 was the first McLaren to use the company’s boomerang-shaped headlights, which were later used on the 570S, 600LT, 650, and 675LT. It’s meant to resemble the shape of McLaren’s logo. Very clever.
4 of 25
Lancia Stratos Zero
At first glance, you might think the Stratos Zero concept has no headlights at all. Look a bit closer. The very edge of the nose is actually a strip of lights.
5 of 25
Alfa Romeo SZ
Of course, the Bugatti wasn’t the first car to pull off the horizontal square headlight look. The Alfa Romeo SZ came out decades ago, and sports the same sort of design.
6 of 25
Early Chargers like this one had headlights that were mounted inside the grille rather than next to it. When not in use, the lights would be covered by a faux grille piece that made it look like the car had no headlights at all. Pretty neat stuff.
7 of 25
Alfa Romeo Brera
The Brera hatchback is an incredibly pretty car, penned by Pininfarina. Its looks are shouldered by that mean, purposeful fascia incorporating three circular headlights lined up next to each other.
8 of 25
The Opel GT features pretty normal round headlights—it’s how they appear that’s cool. Instead of flipping up like a normal pop-up, they swivel longitudinally clockwise. It catches you off-guard the first time you see it.
9 of 25
The 1965 Buick Riviera is known for its unique headlight clamsheels. They open up from above and below to reveal a set of vertically stacked bulbs.
10 of 25
At a first glance, you might not notice anything special about the Lamborghini Miura’s headlights. But when you turn them on, the pods are pushed out and angled towards the road. Pretty nifty for a car designed in the mid-1960s.
11 of 25
Jaguar’s XJ220 supercar from the Nineties is cool for a lot of reasons, but one most people don’t know about is the headlights. Instead of flipping up to reveal the beams, the covers drop down into the car. Interesting stuff.
12 of 25
Like the Jaguar, the low-production Vector W8 also has “drop-down” headlight flaps. The only difference is that the styling is a bit more squared off, which makes sense given the car’s angular design.
13 of 25
Aston Martin V12 Vantage
The Vanquish’s headlights are simple, but like the rest of the car, they ooze style. More elaborate headlights would only distract from the rest of the car and its beautiful design.
14 of 25
Pop-up headlights may not be all that aerodynamic, but they are always going to be cool. Acura turned them into an art form with the original NSX, designing a car that looked elegant both with its headlights up or down.
15 of 25
The Audi R8 was not the first Audi to get LED running lights, but it was definitely the most recognizable one. These days, it seems like every CUV and family sedan has LED bling, but let’s not forget which car started that trend.
16 of 25
C4 Chevrolet Corvette
Unlike most pop-up headlights, which simply raise and lower to reveal projectors, the C4 Corvette’s pop-ups rotate a full 180 degrees. It might not be as mechanically simple, but it sure is mesmerizing to watch.
17 of 25
BMW 5 Series
Audi made LED running lights its signature style in the mid-to-late 2000s, but some years before, BMW created its own signature—angel eyes. The E39 got a mid-cycle refresh in 2001, and with it came these iconic halo running lights.
18 of 25
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Following the success of the first-generation Corvette, the C2’s styling went in a completely different direction. Its fastback coupe shape and split rear window became iconic Corvette design elements, as did its hidden headlights, which became a Corvette hallmark until 2005.
19 of 25
The Porsche 928’s pop-up headlights are unique in that the pods remain visible, even when the lights are turned off. During the daytime, the lights lay flush with the body, giving a sleek cool look. When they’re turned on, the pods flip up to point at the road in a hilariously upright fashion.
20 of 25
The Citroen DS was one of the most influential cars ever produced, with features like front-wheel drive, disc brakes, and a self-leveling suspension. Its front end is also dominated by a set of quad headlights that somehow manage to make four plain circles look cool. Plus, the inside headlights steer with the front wheels, a feature now associated with high-end luxury cars.
21 of 25
The Pontiac GTO is responsible for kicking off the American muscle car trend. While there have been four generations of GTO, the most iconic is of course the first. Stacked quad headlights became a trademark Pontiac feature, in part because they look so good here.
22 of 25
Daytime running lights have come a long way since BMW’s angel eyes. Porsche’s is on the Boxster 718. In a sea of generic LED strips, the 718 stands out with its minimalist four-point design.
23 of 25
In the early days of car design, headlights were nothing more than round lamps that generally lit the road at night. Preston Tucker gave the Tucker 48 a center lamp that steered with the wheels to make it easier to see through turns, creating a trademark style that helped highlight the car’s emphasis on safety.
24 of 25
Volvo is ready to take on the likes of Audi, BMW, and Mercedes with the redesigned XC90 and upcoming S90. To help give its new cars an identity, they both get “Thor’s hammer” headlights that look exactly as cool as they sound.
25 of 25
Mazda MX-5 Miata (NA)
The original Miata’s headlights aren’t particularly special or unique—they’re just good design. Oversized, round housings make for a pleasant, easy-to-look-at fascia that looks as good as the car does with the headlights tucked away. For cars with pop-ups, that’s not always the case.