We can be certain that in the 1980's, at least two amazing things came from Australia: Steve Irwin (RIP) and the Aussie-style of auxiliary lighting. Yes, there is in fact a specific Australian way to do your auxiliary lighting, and it actually makes quite a bit of sense. Now, there may be a million different ways for marketing teams to differentiate the way their lighting works, but we're going to focus on two different styles: driving, a more wide beam pattern, and spot, a more long distance pattern. Both are good for their own tasks, a spot beam will put light further down the road than a driving light will, but a driving light will 'flood' the road closer to you, being more appropriate for turns, trails, and winching.
In the 80's, people with limited space on the front of their vehicles started asking themselves, "Why not just put both up there" and the style was born. The combination of mounting a spot and a driving beam makes your lighting solution a jack-of-all-trades, as well as allowing for the most efficient use. The proper setup involves placing the spot beam on the drivers side, and the driving beam, as you'd likely guess, on the passenger side—this ensures the most light is placed exactly where it is needed. In this case, the wider beam of the driving light allows the most vision directly in front of the vehicle, the spot beam, which is aimed to be effective further down the road, goes directly infront of the driver, ensuring the most distance.
We installed both a spot and a driving beam on the bumper of our Land Cruiser Prado project, and have been pleasantly surprised with the results so far. While we do have a roof rack mounted on the vehicle, we don't have any plans to mount our auxiliary lighting on it. According to Buddy King, a lighting specialist for ARB and the man who essentially popularized the 'Aussie' style of lighting, there's a reason headlights are placed where they're at from the factory. He went on to say that roof-top lighting is acceptable for slow speeds and situations where you're stopped, like the Camel Trophy teams encountered while they were winching as often as they were building bridges; but that you'll see the most performance from lights mounted in front of you. So far, our experiences have told us the same.
So, if you have limited space on your vehicle and with a budget for only two lights, consider purchasing both a spot, and a driving beam—we promise you won't be dissapointed with the results. a
A special thanks to Buddy King who was a huge resource on this article.