I have sent you a few photos of our Corvette’s front bumper. To me, it appears that the crease in the center of the bumper is sticking up too much, as if one side, or the other, has been pushed back. The bumper, itself, actually appears to fit the body of the car pretty well. What do you think? We are going to have the bumper rechrommed, so do we need to do something about changing the crease? And, if we do that, do you think it will still fit the body when it is place back on the car?
Thank you for your message.
Though it is hard to tell, your bumper shape could be the result of several things.
It definitely looks uneven from the pics you sent me. It could be that it was that way from the factory, quality control not being the greatest in those days.
It could have been a replacement bumper, installed at a later date. Most factory replacement chrome parts were actually “service” grade, in that they were not up to the standards of installation on a new vehicle, but were good enough to use as factory part original equipment replacements as the vehicles got older.
It might have also been reworked after it was bent in a collision. To check for this, look for miss- matched bracket welds that do not seem consistent with other welds. Also, look for marks made by an air tool such as an air hammer or chisel on the inside of the bumper itself, and any waviness along the flat surfaces of the bumper.
I noticed on your image #0349, the bolt holes for the front bracket do not seem even with the tip of the crease. The bracket appears offset slightly to the left of the crease. It might have been repositioned after work was done to the bumper, and not attached to the correct location.
Since Corvettes are fiberglass, the bumpers must be fit to the car, not the other way around. To get my rear bumpers to fit for example, 1/16″ cuts were made to the upper and lower surfaces at the corners, the bumpers mounted, and delicately hammered and bent to shape the curve of the rear corners of the car. The cuts were then filled with brass, and polished out before re-plating.
Front bumpers are even more tricky, and since your bumper fits okay, you may just want to leave it alone.
Does the crease match the tip of the nose of your car, or is it off to one side? What about the ends, are they even on both fenders, or has one side been shimmed out excessively? You should look at different Corvettes, and see how they are supposed to fit.
As a rather expensive option, if yours looks way off, you might consider getting a replacement bumper from Ecklers or somewhere, re-chroming that, and mounting it. You will find that the chrome on replacement or service parts as mentioned above is not of show quality. If you are going to the trouble of doing proper triple plating show chrome with dressed edges, you might as well chrome everything or the lesser finishes will stand out.
Finally, if you have access to an excellent restoration shop that has experience in working on Corvettes, and can also get show chrome done, I would suggest that you show it to your shop and see what can be done. Chances are it might involve making cuts into the bumper, mounting the bumper to the car, and working the steel to fit the shape of your car after numerous trial fits. The cuts, if made, are then filled and the triple plating hides any evidence of work. This too can be a little costly, but will guarantee a perfect fit.
You should also paint the insides of your bumpers with a good rust preventative paint, I used Tremclad aluminum. They will rust again as water gets trapped inside them, especially around the brackets. Wax the fresh chrome surfaces with pure (NO cleaner) Carnuba wax, and NEVER use metal polish on them, or any compounds that have abrasives or polishes in them, these will dissolve or wear off the soft nickel finish. Only dust chrome parts, and delicately soap them when washing your car (never rub you bumpers).