240 Need Help With 5-lens Tail Light for 1983 240 DL

Hello and thanks in advance for any help anyone can provide. I am posting outside of the US for a reason and hope you will bear with me...

I am the original owner of a 1983 242 DL. As it ages, parts are getting more difficult to find. Right now, with water getting into the trunk (you call it the boot?) I am thinking I require new tail light assemblies. Mine are original and are a bit beat given their many years of service.

Volvo lists the correct part as made by Bosch (right side is 1235588). While hard to find, these are sometimes available but VERY EXPENSIVE.

There are also listings for some alternative 5-lens units in the Volvo parts fiche I have found. One example is made by Hella (right side is 1234670). The alternatives are often far less expensive. So I am trying to find out if I can substitute with relative ease. I would anticipate the need to re-wire my harness/connector as it seems that the reverse and brake light positions are swapped.

In the photos attached, I show the inside of both the "correct" Bosch (with white plastic) and the alternative Hella. The seem quite similar overall and generally speaking they seem to be physically compatible/interchangeable. But to my untrained eye the connector for the wiring harness seems maybe a bit different.

I wonder if someone actually has any experience swapping between Hella and Bosch and could enlighten me on how that went? At the least, I am hoping that someone might be able to snap a few photos and take a few measurements of the connector they use with their Hella units so I can compare with those on my Bosch units.

I really cannot understand why Volvo would go to the trouble to have different connectors/wiring harnesses. But I also cannot understand why there are so many different model numbers listed for the same part. So I really could use some advice/information.

Thanks in advance and happy new year!



  • bgpzfm142bgpzfm142 (@bgpzfm142) Launceston TAS
    edited January 9
    Digging through the parts catalog, there are several different versions of 5-panel tails.
    **updated due to error**

    - Hella with foglight = 1235200 [L] 1235201 [R]
    - Bosch with foglight = 1235589 [L] 1235590 [R]
    - Hella without foglight = 1234669 [L] 1234670 [R]
    - Bosch without foglight = 1235585 [L] 1234586 [R]

    Then there's the USA/CAN markets only versions, which are only Bosch = 1235587 [L] 1235588 [R]

    Hellas aren't specified for fitting to USA/CAN markets models in the catalog.

    Most of OZ got 5-panel tails from new in the non-foglight versions, and OZ uses the Euro-spec lights. So 'our' versions of Bosch and Hella interchange.

    Do the US versions have any twin filament globes in them? The OZ/Euro ones don't.

    www.gcp.se has new USA version tail lights, but they're not cheap - about $209 USD + shipping each for the 1235588.
    71 1800E |73 144 |74 142 |74 145 |79 242GT |88 780 |93 945T |93 945|2010 S80 V8
  • Oh man, I just finished spending hours trying to ID ALL of the different varieties and here you have it all at once in a single post! I have even managed to find photos of all the units online (that was not easy).

    I must admit that I am completely confused with regards the "fog"/"no fog" business. These all have 5 lenses and I really have no idea what the fog light is or even if my current unit has it (or not). My owner's manual says nothing on the subject. But as seen below, it does ID each panel and the bulb/watts used.


    From this I am sure there are no dual filament bulbs since there are only 1 kind of socket and 2 kinds of bulbs in place.

    I have looked at the parts diagrams/listings here. This mentions only some of the units on your list above. And one is a Hella (1234669). This can be seen here. They also reference another Bosch unit (123585) that can be seen here. At least at a glance, all 3 of the parts shown "look" the same in that all have the same reverse light position. Not sure about the brake though.

    Then there are the remaining options - both Hella and Bosch - that swap the reverse and brake lens positions. The Hella (1235200) can be seen here. And the Bosch (1235589) can be seen here (at least for now).

    I am sure I can live with any of the above units (including those in this last group with the smaller and relocated reverse lens). And would do so if I can get them at a more reasonable price than the crazy expensive US ones. But my concern is about form, fit, and function.

    I have recently found this listing for the wiring harness that feeds the tail lights. Seems to be item #1 (1324917) shown here. As I only see this one harness listed I would hope to conclude that this will indeed plug into and work with any of the tail light units above. Maybe not true but I don't know what else to conclude. Regardless, as long as the plug connector fits all of the tail light units I am sure I could move the wires around to get everything working as expected. Even this would imply that there would be different wiring harness numbers and again I don't see that.

    That would seem to leave only the gasket as an issue. While quite similar, the Hella and the Bosch seem to be different enough that there are two part numbers (Bosch 1235595 and Hella 1235167). So it would seem the gaskets are not interchangeable. This makes me wonder if the fit of the tail light assembly against the body might be any different? I cannot imagine that Volvo would employ two different body panels just to support two different tail light vendors or even USA versus elsewhere. This is especially true given that there does not seem to be multiple wiring harnesses - since those would seem far easier to vary than body panels.

    Sorry for all this lengthy text. And thanks for your help and reply. I just need to be sure of what I can safely purchase because all of the options are still pretty expensive, special order, with long waits for delivery, and no ability to return.

  • I must admit that I am completely confused with regards the "fog"/"no fog" business. These all have 5 lenses and I really have no idea what the fog light is or even if my current unit has it (or not).

    Sorry, I made a mistake in my previous post with the part numbers which may have been confusing. It's been corrected above.

    It wasn't until very late in the game (i.e. until I visited Europe) that I found out that one version of 5-panel tails had fog lights - I knew the 6-panel tails had a fog light version, but not the 5 panel ones as well.

    The fog lights, the reverse lights, and the brake lights are in different places, depending if you have rear fogs or not. I'll re-use your image to explain, if I may -


    For the non-foglight Euro spec 5 panel, referring to the numbers above:

    1 = brakes- square red
    2 = reverse - long white
    3 = indicator - amber
    4 = tail light - red
    6 = tail light and reflector - red

    For the foglight Euro spec 5 panel, referring to the the numbers above (AFAIK):

    1 = reverse - square white
    2 = foglight - long red
    3 = indicator - amber
    4 = brake light - red
    6 = tail light - red

    We didn't see the 5-panel fog light version in OZ on cars sold new here.

    I will need to dig further into the plug and wiring harness situation before comment. The only complete version I have of the parts manual is in German and Swedish, and the incomplete manual I have is in English, but it's an old version. Oddly enough, the old English version lists replacement lenses for both the 5 and six panel tails; the newer version does not. SimplePart (as used by US dealers) lists a lot of the bits, but tends not to list non-US only market stuff, unless somebody in the past ordered a part meant for an overseas market version, e.g. a B204FT manifold.
  • Thanks so much for your follow-up and details. It really helps. Perhaps you can answer one more thing regarding the fog lights? Are fog lights controlled by a switch? Or are they always on when the main light switch is turned on? My car has no special switch - only the main switch.

    Any input you might have on the plug and wiring harness questions will be greatly appreciated. Thanks very very much!
  • BTW - I just downloaded (took a while) the parts manual from here. I searched it for the number of the wiring harness (1307573) and found it on page 809 callout number 1 from the drawing from page 808. German and Swedish are poor to non-existent. But it seems like there is only one harness shown for up to 1979 and then this number for 1980-1984. Maybe there is some other parts catalog to check for this? If not, this would seem to validate the conclusion that the wiring harness and connector plugs are the same despite the tail light variant.
  • Found the harness you mention - on page 809 of Group 35.

    Found it in my English version as "cable harness, bottom rail" on page 228 of Group 3.

    The 1307573 harness was superseded by 1324917. But I believe you are correct - the connector is most likely the same. YM 1979 introduced the 5-panel tails, along with the tail area redesign. Since pre-79 cars had spade connector on the tail lights, just like they did from the '73 140s onward

    BTW - with regards to the rear fog lights : yes, there is a separate switch. It was located in the centre console with the other rocker switches for version 1 dashboards, and above the headlight switch in version 2 (YM 1980+) dashboards.

    Also, it's not surprising how the gaskets are different - the Hella and Cibie units for the 73-78 tails also have different gaskets, although they look the same unless one looks very closely. Ditto with the 73/74 140 Cibie and Hella front indicator lens gaskets. Each version of lighting unit fits into the same holes on the car without modification. (The lenses don't interchange, but that's another story).

    I believe Volvo diversified the sourcing of components so that if any one parts supplier had problems with delivery, parts from the other supplier ensured there was no costly production line downtime. Therefore, you shouldn't have any issues getting a replacement unit to physically fit.
  • jamesincJames (@jamesinc) Oz Volvo Ice Fortress
    I get the impression you're at least a bit interested in retaining originality, but if you don't mind making some wiring mods, you can take the Hella 5-panel tails with wiring pigtails and just mod your harness to suit.
  • Hi and thanks James. Originality would be ideal of course. But the cost of the truly original parts is just prohibitive since I need 4 (both my car and my wife's are in need and if I fix mine you can be sure she will be wondering when hers gets done too). So I could easily live with a non-US light configuration and that could enable me to spend about half the money on this project. And you are correct that I could make fairly minor wiring mods if needed. Just trying to figure out in advance how extensive they might need to be. The thing I really want to avoid is spending a lot of money on long-lead time, non-returnable parts that somehow end up being unusable in my situation.
  • For the non-foglight Euro spec 5 panel, referring to the numbers above:

    1 = brakes- square red
    2 = reverse - long white
    3 = indicator - amber
    4 = tail light - red
    6 = tail light and reflector - red

    Based upon your helpful explanation here and the photos I have found of the actual items in various places on the internet, it sure seems like the USA version and the Euro spec 5 panels without fog "look" the same. The Hella seems to have a thicker black divider material between the lenses than the Bosch. But really all the lights/functions are in the same places, right?

    Yet, if so, I am trying to figure out the differences between the US Bosch part (1235587 [L] 1235588 [R]) and the Euro Bosch part (1235585 [L] 1234586 [R]). The parts lists I have seen only show a single Bosck socket set (high and low wattage). So I really cannot understand why there are even two part numbers.

    As of now, I am inclined to go with the Euro Bosch part since it is substantially less expensive than the Hella (1234669 [L] 1234670 [R]) when acquired via US Volvo dealers. Mine have lasted well enough since 1983. Maybe the Hella are better in some way? But if they last as long as the original, another set of Bosch will certainly outlive me.

  • jamesincJames (@jamesinc) Oz Volvo Ice Fortress
    I wonder if the wiring is different at all. The only issue we have in Aus with the euro ones is the reverse light lens has a reputation for falling off. Might be a hot climate thing, but I tend to try pulling mine off occasionally to check the adhesive is okay, and I've re-glued in the past.
  • Thanks. I agree with your feelings. Again, in checking I see only 1 wiring harness number while there are many tail light variants. This logically implies that the plugs/wiring must be the same.

    You are correct about reverse lenses coming loose. The left one is long gone from my 1983 and I glued on a piece of frosted plexiglass. When working with the right side on my current water leak issues, the right side lens came off in my hands and I re-glued it.

    This seems to happen with both fog and no-fog versions as I have seen at least mention of replacement lenses for both. Have only seen Euro lenses being offered for sale these days.

  • There may be differences due to some weird DOT spec, like there was with the headlights of that period? Euro headlights didn't tick a box required by some obscure US DoT spec, although both were set up for LHD.

    Anyway, I'd be interested to hear what the differences are, if any.
  • Thanks. I rather think the only way I will end up knowing for sure is to order and compare best I can once they arrive. I am at least starting to feel more comfortable with taking the chance that they will work with no or minimal mods.
  • The US had some unique regulations regarding vision angles for lamps and also reflectors (AUS has some weird reflector requirements too) so I suspect that may explain the minor differences between the US and Euro-spec rear lights. An example of this is the US-market 1800s, 140s and early 240s had additional side marker lights not found on European or AUS cars (before the main rear lights changed on the 240s circa 1979 to allow the tail lights to be viewed from the side). This was a big frustration working in the auto industry - thousands of regulations that differed between countries which made it very difficult at times to adapt a car designed for one market to be sold in a different market (example: selling the Holden Commodore as a Pontiac G8/Chevy SS - you’ll notice on that car there’s an additional amber light just in front of the front wheel to accommodate the unique US lamp visibility requirement). Don’t even ask me about number plates/license plates - that mundane item caused us a lot of grief on many products as the plate requirements for size, position and visibility vary greatly from country to country. Go figure!
  • I see. That certainly makes sense. At this point, I have to think that there is little possible consequence of swapping in a Euro-spec assembly (either with or without fog (although I would likely go without - if for no reason than price savings). My car is so old that it no longer requires even smog inspection in my state.
  • Perhaps someone can shed some light (no pun intended) on this question? In the manual page, shown below, it seems that all the sockets are listed in the same way (BA15s). But I know that there are two that are longer and hold a smaller bulb. These are shown as #4 and $6 for the 5-panel assembly. And there are clearly 2 different sockets listed in the parts manual here. So maybe I am misunderstanding the meaning of the socket column?

    Obviously not really important. But it does make me wonder since I am so far into this. Thanks!

  • I see. That certainly makes sense. At this point, I have to think that there is little possible consequence of swapping in a Euro-spec assembly (either with or without fog (although I would likely go without - if for no reason than price savings). My car is so old that it no longer requires even smog inspection in my state.
    I agree - there do not appear to be any significant differences so I’m sure you’d never have any questions asked even if for example the Euro tail lights don’t have the same size or position reflector.
  • jamesincJames (@jamesinc) Oz Volvo Ice Fortress
    I can answer this - they are all BA15s sockets, but 4 and 6 take 5W bulbs, whereas 1, 2, and 3 take 21W bulbs.
  • Thanks James. But the sockets are different in the case of both of our cars (1980 244, 1983 242). That's why I found it strange.

  • jamesincJames (@jamesinc) Oz Volvo Ice Fortress
    In our ones, the sockets are different, but only insofar as the 5W socket isn't designed for 21W of heat energy, but over the years most people have muddled them up and they mostly seem to work okay.
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