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2005+ Official White Tail Lights Reviewed

The white tail lamp. Probably the most recognizable automotive aftermarket item in the world these days. From the high priced OEM sets to the shoddy pieces of plastic seen on eBay, they seem to be everywhere and on every car. While many sets look rather regrettable, there are a few OEM sets that actually have a simple and elegant look about them.

Over the past several years MINI has offered two of these tail light kits. One entirely white and another that replaced the orange turn signals with white. Both were welcome additions and proved to be fairly popular. However, these lights were made obsolete by MINI’s recent design changes made for the 2005 model year. While it’s true that there are hacks to still incorporate the old style rear lights on newer MINIs, it’s not the simple plug and play as it once was. And of course doing so may mean bad karma as your MINI is now not period correct!

The resulting redesign gave the tail lights a new more modern look and a set of reverse lights. Moving the reverse lights into the tail light cluster allowed for the rear foglights to be moved to the bottom center of the rear bumper… probably a more appropriate place considering their use.

The design of the new lights featured three colors. The main portion (used for brake lights) were red, the turn signals (the upper circle) were orange, and the reverse lighting was naturally white. However in the US, MINIUSA went with a simpler all red design save for the small white circles for the reverse lights. It’s not entirely clear why this was done but it tends to give the US spec lights a simpler ill-defined shape as compared with the standard lamp. It also makes the turn signals red instead of orange, a change I personally find regrettable on the grounds of safety.

After the redesign, MINI designers rolled up their sleeves also created a new set of red and white lights. The design change was simple and subtle, white turn signals where the standard tail lights had orange. While it may not sound like much, the result is a better defined design and a duo-tone look and seems more appropriate for the MINI.

Sounds all well and good doesn’t it? Of course there’s just one problem. MINIUSA for some reason will not be offering the new red/white lights in the US. So what’s a US owner to do? Simple; track down some imports.

The one place I’ve found that the lights are available and ready to ship to the US is at NewMiniStuff.com. The lights start at �72.18 or about $130. Not bad considering what MINI typically charges for the original white tail lamps. Mike from NewMiniStuff.com sells the lights as is or with a full set of bulbs. I originally went with the diadem blue silver indicator bulbs but found them a bit, well, blue. A quick run over to Knauz MINI and I had a set of the OEM BMW orange silver lights in hand and ready for install.

Installation is quite simple and straight forward. Essentially the lights are held in by a nut and two clips. Once you get the light housing out you can easily unhook the harness and plug the new one in. The entire install should take about 10 minutes from start to finish (20 minutes for a novice).

The resulting look is fantastic and the change is a bit more noticeable then what one might expect. The shape of the white turn signal area within the light housing is at such an angle that it highlights the elegant curvature of the car’s rear quarter-panel… something that the all red lights fail to do. And the turn signals actually light up orange, a nice plus for those that are more safety conscious.

While some might scoff at spending $130+ for a set of different lights, for those of us who prize aesthetics and an individualized look, they fill the bill well.

Rating: 4.5 (out of five)

The new White and Red MINI Tail lights fit the 2005 and 2006 MINI. You can find them at NewMiniStuff.com and start at �72.18 (about $130) plus shipping. Shipping to the US takes about a week.

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Written By: Gabe

  • The Blue Canary

    [QUOTE]held in my a nut and two clips[/QUOTE]

    When I first read that, I didn’t add the ‘a’. =P Looks nice, just not sure. Do you have some before and after images you could show? That would be very helpful. me = novice.

  • 9595

    i don’t like it!!..sorry

  • Jovi

    come on mans~ I love it!!

  • http://www.motoringphotography.com David Bunting

    I don’t understand some of the comments above (related to the revised white tails that are shown above).

    While I would agree that the original white taillights (the all white ones for the ’02′s to ’04s) did stand out, these revised units for the ’05′s maintain a stock appearance and I’d bet that 95+% of people would never think they weren’t the ones that came on the car in the first place.

  • Wraith

    do they maintain a somewhat stock appearance? yes. do they look really really bad? yes. props to MINIUSA for offering some kind of new taillight mod for the 05′s and up, but these just don’t look good. i’m all for going back to the 02-04 design my self

  • http://www.detailingconcepts.com matt

    i’ve seen these in person on gabes car and i have to disagree with the comments thus far. maybe gabes photos don’t properly convey their appearance, but they really do look good in person.

  • Abbett

    I prefer the original taillights.

  • http://motoringfile.com Gabe

    i’ve seen these in person on gabes car and i have to disagree with the comments thus far. maybe gabes photos don’t properly convey their appearance, but they really do look good in person.

    Yeah I’m finding these comments kinda odd too… everyone who has seen them in person has loved them. Oh well.

  • Mark

    I also prefer the original tailights. The white taillights look OK, but I like the three different colors in the stock taillight. Totally personal preference and we are lucky to have the option to choose either OEM part for our cars. On the other hand I love the rear foglight. I don’t think that was available on my early 05 build….neither was the LSD (sigh)…

  • http://motoringfile.com Gabe

    The white taillights look OK, but I like the three different colors in the stock taillight.

    Actually the standard US Spec tail lights are all red.

  • Joshua

    Great Review! Thanks!

    BTW, you have a typo that sounds very painful

    “Installation is quite simple and straight forward. Essentially the lights are held in my a nut and two clips.”

  • http://motoringfile.com Gabe

    Ouch, it does… thanks!

  • 05DSMCS

    I like them, just don’t know if I can justify paying that much for such a small change. The fact that I like them, though, will probably override the practical side of me at some point…

  • Kevin Minghella

    Gabe, I heard about them last night on whiteroof radio… and knew I had to have ‘em. Thanks for the review!

  • yo mammy

    The ’05 stock lights aren’t that bad, at least not $130.00 bad IMO. I would much rather spend that money on upgrading to real leather e-brake and shifter boots for appearance or on a pulley reduction for performance. I applaud you for your attention to detail, though, and I appreciate your quest for the perfect MINI for you.

  • yo mammy

    P.S. Jim in Ohio should get some of these to make his MINI more unique!

  • http://www.bancroftsonline.com Sean Bancroft

    I like ‘em. Kudos, Gabe.

  • Bilbo Baggins

    Thanks for the information. I too hate the ’05 – ’06 tail light. Now it would seems as though I have my first mod.

  • Evan

    I really like them. I put the similar for ’04′s on my MINI and it really looks great- much more euro. I like the contrast of red with white turn signals and it’s nice to know that 05-06 MINIs can enjoy the same option. Plus these from europe are a steal compared to what I paid…oh well. At least mine are pretty rare- I’ve only seen two or three other MINIs with them. Plus they look better on my Indi Blue along with the white turn signal indicators.

    Final Analysis- Big thumb’s up!

  • Mykl Milligan

    I have been waiting patiently for these to be available to us in the US. Now thanks to Mikey they are. I cant wait to get a set for my 06 MCS that im going to order

  • Richard

    I like the white turn signals, but I think I like best of all the standard European rear lights with amber turn signals. I see that NewMiniStuff also carries them, at $114.

  • Brian

    I think lights are the most difficult to show in a photograph…on paper/webpage the differences are very difficult to show.

    $130 seems pretty reasonable…to each their own (isn’t that the point of owning a MINI?)

  • eVal

    Although I like the stock 05 rear lights I think I like your euro version as well – and I agree, amber turn signals are more noticeable among a sea of brake lights/regular red on lit rear lamps, and thus safer.

    Hmmmm, will have to sort out my rationalized excess mod spending as I have done a fair amount of damage to the budget already :)

  • DaCrema

    I like them. Nice change.

  • Alex

    I’ve never been a fan of orange turnlights anyways… really just reading this to look at your JCW wheels.. :)

  • James

    The original taillights were much better and those seem like a lot of time and expense but no better than the awful new stock taillights.

    Your wheels are still nice, though. Wish they came in white.

  • cbowens

    Nice! Just one more way to personalize your Mini!

  • RoccosModernLife

    I love ‘em! Very nice, Gabe!

  • http://www.jwardell.com/mini/ Josh Wardell

    Spent the last few days in Chicago, Gabe, and I kept an eye out for MINIs in hopes to see you pass..I should have known to look at the taillights! ;)

    Shockingly ALL of the MINIs I saw there had custom MINI-related plates. But then again I only saw about five or six!! Here that would have taken 10 minutes. :)

  • http://motoringfile.com Gabe

    I guess it depends on where you’re at in Chicago. In my daily two mile commute I see 4-5!

  • Edge

    While I think these “white turn signal” lights are an improvement over the red ones, what I really want are true amber turn signals. I’m not interested in a hack-job of older tail lights, but rather I am hoping for an exact replacement of the ’05 OEM tail light that simply replaces the red plastic in the turn signal with amber.

    Don’t they exist too as an OEM part? The article suggests that the lights Gabe installed are the “Euro” version, but I thought that “Euro” MINIs still do indeed come with amber plastic (not just the bulb) turn signals?

    Not interested in an “aftermarket” part… just hoping that an OEM light exists as described above.

  • http://motoringfile.com Gabe

    The standard ‘Euro” lights are red and amber. These are the optional (and still rather rare) white and red Euro lights.

    But I’m curious – why do you want the red and amber? Do you like the color combo? Just to clarify – the official white/red light’s turn signal does indeed light up amber.

  • http://vinreddy.blogspot.com vin

    Any idea where you can find the 2004 and earlier equivalent red + white taillights?

    vin.

  • O(=^=)O Capn

    Wow where can I get blank lic plates like yours?

  • Richard

    Edge, I also prefer the amber/red lights, and I mentioned above that NewMiniStuff.com (the same UK vendor where Gabe got his white/red lights) also has the standard Euro OEM amber lights for about $114.

  • Richard

    Gabe, speaking only for myself, I like the amber/red combo because I favor a “form follows function” design aesthetic where an object expresses what it does. Even when off, an amber lens shows that it is the turn signal, and that it will light up as amber color. A white lens… you intuitively expect it to light up as white color, and when off it looks like it might be a backup light. The standard Euro amber/red version has a simpler, intuitive expression of its functions and it feels more “right” to me.

  • http://www.blokspeed.net Eelke

    So do I understand correctly these are the lights that you get when you tick the “white indicator lights” option over here in Europe (along with white side repeaters)? They are, as far as I understand from the above, and they also match the description from my dealer, so I guess I so.

    If all goes as planned, these would be the ones that will come on my Cooper Checkmate then, I suppose. I like the white indicators on dark colors, such as the Space Blue my Checkmate will come in. I’ve never been a fan of all-white indicators, but I do like the two-tone look of these.

  • http://www.blokspeed.net Eelke

    Sorry, that should have been, not a fan of all-white tail lights.

  • http://www.newministuff.com mikeythemini

    If you don’t like the blue tint bulbs we can supply them with silver :) glad you like them.

  • Edge

    Gabe,

    Just like Richard was saying, I too believe in “form follows function” in this case. I have never liked white indicators or lights on ANY car, except of course for the reverse lights.

    Part of my dilemma has been that I am ONLY interested in OEM parts though, no aftermarket knock-ups. I’m glad to hear that NMS stocks the actual OEM lights – I will definitely be making this purchase in the near future.

    On a side note, I am very interested in tracking down a retrofit kit for the power folding mirrors… OEM only! NMS does list power folding mirror kits, but again I don’t want a 3rd party solution, and the site doesn’t say that they’re the exact same parts that come on MINIs elsewhere in the world.

  • http://motoringfile.com Gabe

    I’m almost certain that those are the OEM power folding mirrors on NewMiniStuff.com.

  • Edge

    I emailed the site at one point to ask, and received no response whatsoever… very disappointing. I am a little nervous to place a blind order considering it’s international.

  • http://motoringfile.com Gabe

    I’d give them another shot. After my dealings when them I wouldn’t think twice about ordering again. Great service and prompt delivery.

  • http://www.TheOfficeMaven.com Mike (The Office Maven)

    Hi Edge,

    Don’t give up on Mikey as he’s an amazing “MINI” guy! He’s quite busy and so sometimes e-mails happen to get lost and go unanswered. Just try resending your e-mail and he should respond.

    Also, there’s no need to be nervous about ordering from him as he is a stand up guy for sure. If you’re not 100% happy with your order for whatever reason, he’ll go out of his way to make it right.

    If you want some more feedback on Mikey (and his company), just head over to http://www.MINI2.com and do a search on “MikeyTheMini” and/or “NewMINIStuff”. He’s been a contributor on MINI2 for a long time now and there are hundreds (if not thousands) of posts containing praise for Mikey and his MINI products.

    Just like Gabe, I wouldn’t hesitate one bit when placing another order with Mikey. I’ve ordered several things from him so far (nav integrated Bluetooth kit, nav stereo interface, auto-close windows/sunroof controller, etc.) and I’ve been extremely happy with my order every time.

  • kaelaria

    I like the sotck ’05 US lights better than anything. I think white looks like a 5 year old ‘me-too’ civic look.

  • Edge

    Thanks for the positive feedback on them… but I still won’t order until I get confirmation from the source that the parts I want are indeed OEM… it has nothing to do with the quality of their service, but everything to do with the fact the website doesn’t actually SAY OEM!

    Good to know that past experiences were positive though!

  • http://www.newministuff.com mikeythemini

    Sorry if you havn’t had a response, please send again – or try mikey@newministuff.co.uk this one is only recieved on my home machine where I have a little more time & less e mails to answer daily. The mirrors we use are OEM ones, we then extend 2 wires which you must run into the car. The mirror closer module is not OEM as the OEM one only works from an internal switch

  • http://www.focaljet.com Thameth

    Just wanted to clarify for anybody ordering in the US. As Gabe stated in the article they are priced at just about $130 US, but when you had 20 british lbs for shipping the total will go up to $176 total shipped to Miami, FL. So Cali might cost a little bit more too.

    I’ve been waiting for these for a while and i just put in my order. Now to see how much i can get for my stockers hehe.

  • http://www.TheOfficeMaven.com Mike (The Office Maven)
    Now to see how much i can get for my stockers hehe.

    I actually broke one of my 05 tail lamps and had to replace it. A brand new OEM lamp including all of the bulbs was only about $38 from my local MINI dealer. I was really shocked at how cheap it was.

    Oh and BTW… I believe that Mikey charges a fixed shipping rate to the U.S. Thus, it doesn’t matter if you’re on the East coast or the West coast. It will cost you the same either way (i.e. the price given on his web site).

  • http://www.focaljet.com Thameth

    “Oh and BTW… I believe that Mikey charges a fixed shipping rate to the U.S. Thus, it doesn’t matter if you’re on the East coast or the West coast. It will cost you the same either way (i.e. the price given on his web site).”

    Ahhh yea i should have figured that. Yea i also noticed its 26 british lbs not 20. Again definitely worth it, he is providing a service to us in the US who wouldn’t be able to get the taillights anyways.

    Just pointing out.


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