Rear Bumper Customization

I find that the original bumpers, on my 54 Pontiac, stuck out very far from the body and they were slanted like a snow plow. So the first thing I tackled was the rear bumper: I flipped it over end for end so that the bottom was now slanted in compared to the top. Then it was time to look at the bumper brackets and figure out a way of tucking the bumper in tighter to the body.

It's important to take many pictures of the original bumper brackets because they are bent in 3 dimensions.

I was going to use the original brackets and slid them back into the frame. The plan was to drill 4 new mounting holes but it became pretty apparent that the brackets were nowhere close to what was needed. So I turned to my trusty friend: angle iron. I made a pair of simple bumper brackets out of some junk angle iron I had laying around. I was going to make some angle support but ended up just making a tee for a bracket. A little persuading with a long breaker bar to get the bumper tilted in the right direction and it lined up pretty nice. It was actually pretty easy.

A simple angle iron tee bracket worked for the rear bumper brackets

When I tuck the bumpers in closer to the body, the wrap-around end pieces were too long. I had to cut out about 3 inches and weld them back together. I also decided that I didn't need to use the side bumper bracket. The rear brackets provide enough support by themselves. You might of realized by now that the bumpers are just for show, they aren't going to protect the body too much tucked in this tight!

The left red arrow points to the sectioned bumper - 3 inches removed. The right arrow points to the filler panel that I used.

To fill the gap, I needed some flat plastic about 3 1/2 inches wide. The bumper is only about 3/4 inch from the body at the corners but about 3 inches away at the middle. After visiting the local hardware store, I came back with black garden edging. It is used to line garden beds and is about 4 1/2 inches wide. You can purchase 20 feet for about $6.00 - great deal. I screwed it on with some metal screws to the bottom of the trunk lip and it looks sweet.

Rear bumper and taillights installed (trunk not completely closed)

I 'm not going to use the original license bumperette because mine are in terrible shape, they don't fit with the bumper turned upside down and lastly, they interfere with opening the trunk lid with the bumper tucked in.

Stock style license bumperette

I simply bolted the license plate bracket directly to the bumper. Some time down the road, I'll have to add a license plate light. I have really nice minature skelton skulls to use as nuts for mounting the license plates with.

Can't have a custom without a pair of skulls somewhere!

Rear bumper installed, notice the halogen backup lights and the Tempest script

Doesn't that bumper look sweet! Believe it or not, it's been painted with chrome paint. Fools a lot of people, cause it looks like older chrome. Not real shiny but just shines like older chrome. I've tried chrome paint before and could only get it to look like aluminum until I read the instructions. The trick is not to spray it on like you would with normal spray paint but to mist it on. Several very light mist coats, spray each coat on after the previous coat becomes tacky. Later I'll take everything apart and get the pieces rechromed but for now chrome paint will do..

A couple of years later, I went to get all my chrome replated and ran into major incompetence. The plater said it would take 6 weeks to replate everything including the bumpers. At the 6 week mark, they stated that it would take another 2 to 3 weeks. At the 7 week mark, they said that they couldn't do the bumpers because the welding wasn't smooth enough where I shortened the ends! Why didn't they tell me when they first looked at it - I could of fixed it in time for the rod season. Instead they sat on it for 7 weeks! So in order to put the car back together, I painted the bumpers white to match the body.

Bumper painted white - looks okay..

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Copyright December 2011 Eugene Blanchard