Thanks for all the suggestions. However, as this car is going to see use mostly as a racecar I think I'll look for a more simple solution - and light weight. After all, it's very rare that the headlights are used.
Probably, I'll just remove the electric motor and keep the bracket with the gear such that I can raise the buckets manually. I'll need to trim the bracket to clear the radiator, but the gear should be possible to retain. I have a couple of complete spare gear/motor assemplies that I can play with.