NACO Standard Taillight

AKA Willys CJ-2A Bumpers

Standard ?? ... a critique of the repro NACO taillight

As it turns out, there's nothing "standard" about the NACO Standard taillight, except the stamping, "NACO Standard".

Following is a comparison between an NOS NACO (not Willys), 2 different OEM originals (one Willys), and the currently available "repro" taillight.

A cutaway drawing (from the Willys parts manual) is first shown for reference.

NACO pieces

lens & bezel

lens mis-fit

license lens

shoddy workmanship



Two things to note here:

  1. The electrical connection socket on the back of the housing
  2. The license lens clip (partially obscured by the bulb)

This drawing doesn't show the mounting studs, which would be above and below the socket on a CJ2A.


All images link to higher resolution photos.

Here we have a repro unit on the left, and an NOS unit on the right, w/black bezel and non-Willys license lens.

The first obvious difference is the electrical connector. The repro just has wires from the spring loaded socket hanging out the back, while the NOS has the connector socket shown in the Willys drawing.

The repro is painted semi-gloss or satin black, the NOS is gloss.

The repro uses metric philips screws, slightly smaller than the NOS slotted SAE screws.

Once mounted, the repro looks correct, but close examination reveals the inaccuracies.

Lens & Bezel
My biggest complaint about the repro is the main lens. The glass is not cast correctly.

A minor nit is the distance between the identification marks, ("stimsonite" and "NACO") and the edge of the lens. The repro has more space than the original.

The major nit is the front and rear of the lens are cast 90º off. The bullseye grate should be vertical, but it's horizontal, and the fastening clip recesses are correspondingly off. This presents a problem fitting the bezel to the housing (more on this later).

The pyramid diffusers inside the repro lens are soft and rounded, the NOS are sharp and well defined. The NOS lens scatters light much better.

I'm also using an NOS Willys "chrome" bezel and lens here too. It is actually stainless steel, not chrome. A ceramic magnet won't stick to it. You can sorta see the difference here. The black painted bezels are regular steel.

The repro bezel also lacks some detail, and is not fully roll-formed where it fits the housing, making it difficult to remove and replace (I had to pry it off with a screwdriver). The crude hand drawing shows the difference.

The NOS spring clips holding the lens in are much stiffer than the repro, but the repro hold just as well and are easier to remove and install.

Lens mis-fit
Aside from the esthetics of the lens markings & grating, there's the functional problem with the mis-cast repro main lens.

The housings have this tab, punched up from the front lip, to hang the top of the bezel from, and hold it flush.

On the repro unit, because of the 90º mis-cast lens, the tab hits one leg of the lens fastening clip, so the bezel doesn't fit flush, and requires more force to get on & off.

On the NOS unit, the tab fits cleanly between the legs of the clip

License Lens
The license lens is the most accurate piece in the repro unit, but still has a minor difference.

Here's the repro (w/gasket still attached), and an NOS Willys lens.

The entire lens has internal ribs running fore & aft. The NOS and repro appear identical here.

There's also some external ribs running left & right. The NOS lens has 11 ribs, the repro lens only has 9.

The thickness and shape of the repro lens is the same as the NOS

The license lens attachment method is rather crude, and the repro is poorly implemented and should be replaced.

The lens is held in the housing with 2 clips. The NOS unit uses a speed-nut clip with a lip the same length as the lens is thick, keeping it parallel to the lens and perpendicular to the screw.

The repro unit uses a thin piece of sheet steel with no allowance for the thicknesss of the lens.

The result, as can be seen, is that the clip does not sit perpendicular to the screw, and binds. In fact, I've stripped one of mine already, just by removing and replacing the lens.

Here's three variations on the license lens clip.

At top is the speed-nut clip, as found in the NOS unit, and in a Willys Jeepster unit.

In the center is a different style found in an original NACO housing from an unknown vehicle. It's heavy steel, with an offset lip, and a threaded screw hole

At the bottom is the cheesy repro thin steel piece.

The third photo shows the thick steel clip. I like this style best.

Shoddy workmanship
The repro license lens opening is rough.

It was punched out AFTER the housing was painted, leaving a sharp raw edge, which WILL cut flesh, and rust in short order.

It's also not cut clean, leaving stair-step edges, and the ends are curved, not straight.

Electrical connection
The OEM style electrical plug is molded of black plastic or bakelite and has 2 brass spring loaded contact plungers.

This Willys original unit still works great.

The wires fit into sockets on the backside, and are held in place by setscrews.

I think there's a metal housing which fits over it all to keep water out, and I believe it's the same as used on WWII MBs.

The last photo shows a different style, found in yet another NACO housing, unknown vehicle. The contact plungers are spring loaded screws.

"Standard" isn't standard. Variations on the NACO Standard housing.

Upper left is the NOS unit.

Upper right is the repro

Lower left is an original Willys Jeepster.

Lower right is an original from an unknown vehicle. It would use an internal spring loaded contact plug like the repro.

Unfortunately, all have horizontal mounting studs.