GUIDE Lamps and Their History In Motorcycles

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One of the great things about both blogging and restoring motorcycles, is that besides teaching I also learn new stuff everyday.  Today I learned about GUIDE lamps and their history in motorcycles.  Yes, GUIDE is a brand name, just like Harley-Davidson, S&S, etc., but their focus is on headlights, taillights, turn signals, etc.

I have previously rambled on here at HappyWrench about the value of purchasing OEM parts over aftermarket garbage, and how it increases the value of your restoration.

This brought me to my research into GUIDE lights. When I purchased “Cal”, he came with a few extra turn signals, which turned out to be GUIDE lamps.

See the ones hanging off the back of the seat below.  I knew they were GUIDE lamps, because the manufacturer generally stamps “GUIDE” and model number into the main part of the housing.

Guide Lamps and Their History in Motorcycles

The GUIDE lamps turned out to be not original to Cal, but to earlier Panheads.  With a period-correct restoration in mind, I quickly loaded them up on eBay, sold them, and went about searching for an original, correct taillight for Cal.

I did a little research and learned that the correct taillight housing for Cal is a Guide 97 R 68.  Very cool stuff.  Let’s take a step back and talk GUIDE lamps and their history in motorcycles.

GUIDE Lamp History

The Guide Motor Lamp Company was formed in 1906 by three enterprising individuals investing $100 a piece.  The company set up shop in Cleveland Ohio and manufactured its first electric light for an automobile in 1908 (cars typically used oil or acetylene lamps before that time).  Things really got rolling (pun intended) in 1913 when the company incorporated and first large-scale plant was built.  By 1928, the company was making lamps for Buick, Cadillac, LaSalle, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Packard, Pierce Arrow and Diamond T.

The General Motors Corporation bought them out in late 1928, transitioning the company to the Guide Lamp Corporation.

GUIDE Lamps and Motorcycles

From what I can tell, GUIDE started making lights for motorcycles in 1927 with the Indian Prince, Scout, and Chief and in 1934 with the Harley Davidson VL, WL, UL, ULH, and EL models.  They also made lights for Indian, Salsbury (Scooter), and Simplex.  The lights included taillights, front fender lights, and turn signals.  Below are the Harley model numbers I am aware of.


1947-51 WL, 1947-48 UL & ULH, 1947-52 EL, 1947-54 FL, FLH – MODEL NUMBER RH-5 (TOMBSTONE TAIL LIGHT)

1949-52 125, 1953-59 165, 1955-59 Hummer, 1960-61 Super 10 – MODEL NUMBER PH-9 (FRONT FENDER LAMP)

1955-59 Hummer, 1956-59 165 – MODEL NUMBER RT-8 (TAIL LIGHT)


1969-1972 FLH – MODEL NUMBER 97 R 68 (TAIL LIGHT)

1960-61 Super 10, 1961-65 Topper, 1962-65 Pacer, Scat, 1966 Bobcat – MODEL NUMBER R6-60 (TAIL LIGHT)


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