I goofed up and put this in a classified ad by mistake awhile ago. So I am putting it here too.
I'd guess it was a Mitchell dealership. The three on the left look like new cars, except for that flat tire....
what is the curved bar?/tube? on top of each headlight? 2nd auto on left
They're just bail handles that are part of brass headlamps and a carryover from carriage lamp design.
It this particular case, they're just decorative.
mostly decorative, but as a guard they would keep you from leaning against a hot chimney too...
There is more to the bail than a carry over. If you look closely there are 2 round pieces sticking down at 4 and 8 o'clock. These served as feet when the lamp was removed to be used as a trouble light.
The light rested on the rear and the 2 feet at the front, these feet steadied the lamp.
Those aren't self generating lamps, and even if the rubber gas lines were many feet long, they would make lousy trouble lamps. (I see one of the hoses - third car from the left, headlamp on the right.)
If those are legs, I don't know where you could actually set the lamp except on the ground.
You can also tell which guys do the work!
Actually, they were used as "trouble" lights. At least this Ford was pressed into service in 1908. With good reflectors these lights give off good light, at least compared with the alternatives in the day:
I've seen acetylene lights in action on many occasions and I'm aware that they give off very good, bright light and people do improvise in dire situations.
As I wrote and as indicated in the article, you would need many feet of tubing to plumb one to the generator to use it as a trouble lamp. I doubt folks were carrying extra tubing in their tool boxes for the purpose of using a headlight as a trouble lamp.
I still think they would not be very practical trouble lamps even with "legs" on the bottom because you would need a very stable place to set them (mainly on the ground) while working on a car. If you set one on the fender or running board in order to light up the engine compartment, for example, it would probably be pretty precarious.
Just my opinion - neither here nor there.
Looks like the Ford in Rob's picture is using a Prest-O-Lite tank.
Ken in Texas