Home » These Chunky Bumper Guards That Washed Your Headlights Are The Holy Grail Of VW Accessories

These Chunky Bumper Guards That Washed Your Headlights Are The Holy Grail Of VW Accessories

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If David is allowed to lose his lettuce about a bunch of bent pipes that Jeep sold as a spare tire carrier then I think I’m entitled to take a moment to geek out on another incredibly rare accessory for some iconic cars. An accessory so rare that I’ve never actually even seen a set of them myself, though like David and his spare tire contraption, it haunts my dreams. The accessory I’m talking about is technically known as Volkswagen M-code option 288, “headlight washer system.”

If those words don’t send sparks of illicit thrill-tricity down your spine then I’d suggest that you get that pulse checked, friend. This is an option that brings the magic and dazzle of headlight washer systems to air-cooled VWs, and, even better, does it with that magical combination of clunkiness and cleverness that perhaps we could call clunverness. Or maybe clevkiness. Whatever it is, I want to grind it into a fine powder and do a fat rail of it off a mirror. So, if you will, let me introduce you to M288, the Headlight Washer System, or The Pair of Big Chunky Rubber Bumper Guards That Squirt Clean-Juice At Your Headlights.

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I first noticed this option mentioned on The Samba’s huge list of VW M-codes, which were VW’s way of categorizing their surprisingly vast array of options ranging from rear fog lamps to mud flaps to special equipment for various countries and climates, which actually seems to be the category that M288 fits into, as it appears to be something primarily intended for the Swedish market. This isn’t terribly surprising, as the Swedish market has traditionally been more safety-oriented and deals with inclement weather, so the safety benefits of keeping headlights clean when they may get splashed with muddy slush or snow or whatever makes sense, and we’ve seen other Scandinavia-specific VW options before, such as the large-reflector taillights I covered here before.

I’ve seen references to M288 as being available on both Beetles (Type 1) and Buses (Type 2), but despite some pretty specific references to these being available for Beetles and Super Beetles, I have yet to find any pictures of the setup installed on a Beetle. Luckily, there’s a number of pictures of the version made for the Type 2 buses, so that’s what we’ll be looking at. Here’s what the M288 option kit consists of:

M288diagram

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Essentially, it’s a pair of large rubber bumper guards or overriders, whatever you want to call them, that have a squirt nozzle mounted on their tops, and those nozzles are connected, via a lot of rubber hose, to a reservoir that is integrated into a new right-hand lower interior kick panel, and fluid from that reservoir is pumped via a 12V fluid pump also mounted in that new kick panel. Here’s what it looks like:

Washerinplace

 

See what I mean about that combination of clunky and clever? Those bumper guards have to be pretty tall to be in the right position to clean those headlights, but I bet they work pretty well as bumper guards as well as pedestals for squirting fluid at sealed beams. I’m sure you’re dying to see these in action, so boy are you in luck:

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Here’s more of that same bus, spraying automotive cleansing tears:

Man, that’s good stuff. Why are headlight washers so cool? Especially when applied to a car that never seems to have considered the need for them? A lot of modern cars have those sleek pop-out headlight washers, and those are great, but what I like about M288 is the incredible afterthoughtness of it all. It feels like someone just surprised a room full of VW designers and engineers and told them, crap, we just found out that Sweden requires headlight washers! How the hell are we going to pull that off?

There were probably a lot of sketches of strange deploying arms or complex replacement headlight buckets or something like that, before one of those designers or engineers had the brilliant brainstorm to just jam the things on top of some bumper guards. It’s so simple and smart I want to scream.

M288 Parts

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You know what else is interesting about M288? In looking at pictures of the parts online, like what you see above, it’s funny how just by looking at those things I think I could tell it’s a 1970s-era VW product. That particular molded plastic grain pattern is like a fingerprint, and I recognize it from armrests and plastic seat side panels and any number of little parts from the VWs I’ve had. I suspect there’s plenty of other VW people who would have the same reaction, as I’m also sure there’s idiosyncratic detail markers for parts from most manufacturers. It’s just strange how familiar these parts feel even though I’ve never actually seen any of these in person, and it’s unlikely I ever will.

Well, maybe I will, at some VW show in Europe somewhere. Who knows? I’d also love to see how these look on a Beetle; did the Beetle have shorter bumper guards, or are they just huge-ass black obelisks that hang off the front bumper? There must be a Beetle with M288 installed on it somewhere in Scandinavia, right?

After all, David managed to find one of his desired spare tire carriers in a junkyard. Perhaps dreams do come true.

 

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Austin Vail
Austin Vail
5 months ago

From an outsiders perspective, the aircooled VW community really views their rides as merely a blank canvas to be festooned with rare accessories, don’t they?

That said, this idea is absolutely brilliant and if I found a set I’d be very tempted to buy a whole car just to put them on it. Or I’d send them to you, but that might cause a joy overload frying the idea-pump and you’d write only about the bumper guards until the end of time.

As a side note, I fully expected the headlight washers to be powered by the air from the spare tire and I’m disappointed they aren’t.

Last edited 5 months ago by Austin Vail
Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
5 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

Yeah, in the vintage air cooled community, period correct bolt-on accessories are equivalent to buttons on the dash of late 80s/early 90s luxury cars, the more you have, the higher your status

Hotdoughnutsnow
Hotdoughnutsnow
5 months ago

Electric Washer Fluid Pump? VW, you’re slippin’. Give me the trusty ‘ol spare tire air pressure for my washer fluid.

MikeInTheWoods
MikeInTheWoods
5 months ago

Is it just me or does that sound and look like a moist dog sneeze?

I was expecting a streaming spray, not the pshhhtt of a sneeze-wash. I suspect is is more effective this way and also saves fluid. Brilliant.

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
5 months ago

> Whatever it is, I want to grind it into a fine powder and do a fat rail of it off a mirror.

So that’s what really happened to that Changli battery.

Last edited 5 months ago by Harvey Park
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
5 months ago

It could be argued that the reservoir in the kick plate is actually serving as a crumple zone in the event of a frontal impact, perhaps quadrupling the amount of protection your feet get in a collision.

Sort of like a miniature version of those yellow water barrels they set up like bowling pins at highway exits, but on a tiny and presumably much less effective scale.

Last edited 5 months ago by Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
5 months ago

I need this contraption in my life. Affixed to both bumpers, front and rear.
However, I would alter them so the nozzles spray away from my car.
I’d also have multiple reservoirs of liquids of my choosing.
How close other drivers cut me off or ride my ass would determine which reservoir of fluid I choose to spray at them.

Knowonelse
Knowonelse
5 months ago

I had a cousin who turned them forward in his VW bus. However for that driver it was to spray unsuspecting bikini-wearing folks in a convertible.

Phuzz
Phuzz
5 months ago
Reply to  Knowonelse

I had a friend who aimed one of his windscreen-washer jets so that it went sideways towards the pavement. A dick move now I think about it, but as kids we thought it was hilarious.

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
5 months ago
Reply to  Phuzz

I just replaced mine in an old car, and in the default position they hit pedestrians and clean the top of the car.

Clark B
Clark B
5 months ago

In high school, I removed the directional nozzle from the rear wiper of my GTI so the steam would spray straight out. Got several friends in parking lots that way.

FleetwoodBro
FleetwoodBro
5 months ago

Someday, I said to myself as a young teenager, I will have headlight washers. That day finally came in 2002. It was a Mercedes W210 wagon, or maybe they call the wagons S210. Anyway, it was not as exciting as I had hoped. The problem was, as people smarter than me would’ve anticipated, when you activate the washer from the driver’s seat you don’t get to see it work, which is the point of any gadget. If I push the button and something happens but I don’t see it happen, screw that. I guess I could’ve brought a full length mirror out to the driveway, but I didn’t have one of those. I did have a wife, however.

So after an embarrassing explanation of what I wanted to do, she got in the car and I planted my face down in front of the left headlight so I could fulfill a lifelong desire to see these washers in action. I’ve included a link to a youtube video so the interested can see the situation I put myself in, but for those who won’t click: these are the most powerful headlight washers the world has ever seen. I got completely drenched by blowback and in addition for some reason my washers shot some water forward right into my face like in a Three Stooges movie. Washer fluid burns like the dickens when it gets in your eyes.

It’s the hardest I’ve seen my wife laugh.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vm6bkyPfvo

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
5 months ago
Reply to  FleetwoodBro

Worth it, for several reasons.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
5 months ago
Reply to  FleetwoodBro

If people can add aftermarket key fobs for remote door poppers and windows and what have you, you could absolutely add a custom key fob for activating headlight washers from outside the car.

CSRoad
CSRoad
5 months ago

At least it doesn’t run off the spare tire and I suppose it is better than having your headlights washed on impact. (-;
Next up the bumper mounted squeeze bulb horn, get out of my way, honk!

Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
5 months ago

“Big Chunky Rubber Bumper Guards That Squirt Clean-Juice At Your Headlights.“

Hey now. What happens in your bedroom, stays in your bedroom, mkay?

Timbales
Timbales
5 months ago

Chunky Bumperguard sounds like a fun fictional character.

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
5 months ago
Reply to  Timbales

Isn’t that the guy who played Sherlock? Has he gained weight?

Timbales
Timbales
5 months ago
Reply to  Harvey Park

well done

Tap-n-Die And Some WD-40
Tap-n-Die And Some WD-40
5 months ago
Reply to  Harvey Park

No, you’re thinking of Benadryl Coffeebreath

Timbales
Timbales
5 months ago

I thought that was Bandicoot Custardbath?

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
5 months ago
Reply to  Timbales

Or the name of an unreleased Beatles song from one of the later albums where they got weird!

BolognaBurrito
BolognaBurrito
5 months ago

It’s a bidet for your headlights.

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
5 months ago

Why not just have the spare wheel on the front (was that even an M-code option or just something us hippies did?) and power the whole system from there? 😉

Robert M. Graham
Robert M. Graham
5 months ago

That video makes it look like they are sneezing on the headlights …

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
5 months ago

Since I’ve always viewed headlights as the eyes of the car, I’m now imagining if tear ducts were actually little glandular nodules below your eyes that spray fluid on them when you sneeze if your eyes get dirty.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
5 months ago

If you put a DDT solution in your Beetle sprayers will your car die?

Sid Bridge
Sid Bridge
5 months ago

One of these days, someone is going to find the actual Holy Grail. When that happens, I sincerely hope The Autopian is the first site to get to drink from it and pubish an article titled “This Grail is the Holy Grail of Grails.”

NewBalanceExtraWide
NewBalanceExtraWide
5 months ago
Reply to  Sid Bridge

Unless it’s too old and has a leak. Then the holey grail is no longer the holy grail of holey grails.

Cameron Showers
Cameron Showers
5 months ago

But wouldn’t that make it the holiest of holy grails? Since the only one found would indeed be holey?

Last edited 5 months ago by Cameron Showers
Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
5 months ago

That’s wholly a matter of opinion.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
5 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Tin roof, RUSTED!

Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
5 months ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

Win!

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
5 months ago

Tin cup, rusted!

Sid Bridge
Sid Bridge
5 months ago

Nope. Then we would get a lovely article about what an amazing deal this actual Holy Grail was and how two weeks fixing it nearly broke David Tracy, an ordeal that will become the subject of a 6-part video series, ending in an uplifting look at David, now immortal, pondering an eternity of Holy Grail Jeeps.

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
5 months ago
Reply to  Sid Bridge

Shot on location in Judea, where he finds amazing locals willing to help him carry heavy beams up a hill

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
5 months ago

If it has holes then it it the holey grail of holy grails.

Robert Simons
Robert Simons
5 months ago
Reply to  Sid Bridge

I’ll wait for the “Look At This Adorable Kitten Living in the Holy Grail” article.

Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
5 months ago
Reply to  Sid Bridge

“This old cup is the Jeep Cherokee of Holy Grails”

Parsko
Parsko
5 months ago

After all, David managed to find one of his desired spare tire carriers in a junkyard. Perhaps dreams do come true.

ONE?!?!?

Harris K Telemacher
Harris K Telemacher
5 months ago

https://www.bugbus.net/se/classifieds.html?cmd=detail&id=17082

Is that the same part? Looks like the Beetle just got the little black “pyramid” shaped sprayer installed in the bumper, instead of having the huge chunky guards installed with the sprayer at the top. Tough to see in the picture.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
5 months ago

You should do a deap dive into MB’s ribbed taillight designs from the 70’s. Apparently they were an aerodynamic solution to keep them clean. It’s fun how they became a styling signature.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
5 months ago

Huh? I’m surprised I missed that, or I forgot having read it, I guess. Sorry Jason, but I just can’t remember taillights…Thanks though!

Bracq P
Bracq P
5 months ago

First of all these were mandatory in Sweden starting 1972, don’t have it, can’t register your car. Plenty of quirky on the fly solutions for cars ending their model run in 1972, i.e. W108/109 Mercedes.
Nowadays the pop up nozzle solution without wiper blades (like your example) have remained as more cost efficient.

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
5 months ago
Reply to  Bracq P

I have never seen Mercedes-Benz W108/W109 with headlamp wipers (that is from the factory), only W114/W115. With the vertical curvation of the lens on W108/W109, it’s gonna be a challenge of figuring out the wipers so they more or less clean lenses.

Bracq P
Bracq P
5 months ago
Reply to  EricTheViking

It is a very rare option. I once had such a car, they did use Export (double) Headlight doors.

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
5 months ago
Reply to  Bracq P

Would be swell to see the photos of that! Were the wipers only for the main beam or also for both main and high beam (as on BMW 5- and 7-Series in the 1970s and 1980s)?

When researching, I came across the W114/W115 with both US sealed-beam headlamps and wipers for the US market. I had no idea that Mercedes-Benz offered the kit there as I have never seen one on the US model.

Photo 1 and Photo 2

Morgan Thomas
Morgan Thomas
5 months ago
Reply to  Bracq P

I have a collection of owners manuals scrounged from gloveboxes at wrecking yards, and amongst those for the Datsun 610 (known as 180B in Australia) I somehow ended up with the European version of the manual, which showed they had headlight washers/wipers on cars sold in Sweden. To do this on a car with quad 5 3/5″ sealed beams required special sealed beam units with flat front glass. I had my various 180Bs before the advent of parts hunting on eBay, otherwise I would probably have been compulsively searching the net for all the parts required to convert mine, even though I had absolutely no need of headlight wipers/washers (tailight nerdery in serious cases can extend to headlight obsession too!)

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
5 months ago
Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
5 months ago

How the hell are we going to pull that off?

By powering it with the spare tire pressure obviously!

(imagines fat bonus for such a genius idea)

What?, the spare is already powering the wipers?

Damn, I guess we gotta fork out the dough for a pump. There goes my bonus 🙁

A. Barth
A. Barth
5 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

To clarify, the spare provided air pressure to operate the windshield sprayer nozzles; the wipers themselves were operated by an electric motor in the usual way.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
5 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Hold the phone!! That gives me an idea!

Wait for it……

MANIFOLD VACUUM!! Just like an Audi’s power windows and locks!!

Ahhh, my fat bonus is now assured.

Clark B
Clark B
5 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

According to the owners manual for my 72 Super Beetle, there was some sort of pressure valve in the washer fluid system that was designed to keep you from deflating your spare tire too much.

I tried testing this, but the system in my car won’t pressurize. Interestingly, the washer fluid hoses actually run up and into the car through the steering column and under the steering wheel, where the system is activated by pulling the windshield wiper stalk forward. Not sure if that was a common thing on older cars, but the VW system is unique in that a malfunction could leave you with both a flat spare tire and wet pants.

Morgan Thomas
Morgan Thomas
5 months ago
Reply to  Clark B

My parent’s ’76 Microbus had a spontaneous failure of the washer ‘switch’, which fried the indicator switch mechanism, which we replaced by a pair of toggle switches. At least it had no effect on the spare – the buses of that era had a thick walled plastic washer reservoir that was pressurised directly with a Schraeder valve mounted on the reservoir.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
5 months ago

Jason, These practically scream for 3D printer magic. I bet someone with moderate skills could print some up for your Beetle. The rest of the mechanism parts all look like they could be sourced from off the shelf. I bet there’s some space in the frunk for the reservoir and pump. A momentary SPST under the dash and you’d be all set.

For Type 2s a kick panel could also be printed, although I assume that might be too large for most 3D printers.

A. Barth
A. Barth
5 months ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

I’m not sure 3D printing would be necessary. There are already aftermarket kick panels available that can house speakers; with some minor tweaking I suspect they could be adapted to hold a reservoir, though not a large one.

Ben
Ben
5 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

I’m not sure 3D printing would be necessary.

You clearly don’t own a 3d printer. If you did you would know that 3d printing is always the answer (3iata?). 😉

JKcycletramp
JKcycletramp
5 months ago
Reply to  Ben

So 3D printing an entire Miata would lead us to solving Grand Unified Theory!

A. Barth
A. Barth
5 months ago
Reply to  Ben

True; I do not own a 3D printer… yet.

At the moment I don’t need any chess pieces or figurines. 😉

ES
ES
5 months ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

could we please have a foot-pump in the kick panel? A passenger would be mandatory to drive in inclement weather.
or it could be on the driver’s side, linked to the brake pedal, since people love to use that randomly in soft weather.

A. Barth
A. Barth
5 months ago

An actual 12V electric pump for spraying washer fluid at glass?? That’s crazy talk!

Though the spare would probably be flat in no time from running all the nozzles.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
5 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

When the weather got bad we used to get air anxiety. I’m guessing the pump was like a range extender.

Last edited 5 months ago by Andy Individual
Sklooner
Sklooner
5 months ago

Wow even a real pump, my 72 and 75 had to be pumped up or use the air from the spare tire

Drew
Drew
5 months ago

I’d never heard of these, but they are super cool. And the sort of thing that probably wasn’t even touched by aftermarket, unlike the Jeep thingamajig. I’ve never had headlight washers, but now I want these ones, specifically. On a Type 2 pickup. Maybe that one in the photo.

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