Your bumper is an unassuming, yet very useful part of your car. Until 1973, most bumpers had one primary function: a stylish appearance. A simple bumper made of chrome-plated steel, barely absorbed the impact of a butterfly before tearing into a fender like a can opener. An issue the federal government tried to alleviate by mandating that bumpers absorb the impact of a 5 mph crash. This mandate, along with increasing emissions standards and gas prices, contributed to the end of the American muscle car.
The Strength of a Bumper
Sacrificing beautiful body lines in the name of snail-speed safety, gigantic crash bumpers jutted out like Rocky Balboa’s chin, just asking to block a punch. Redesigned parts used a mixture of rubber blocks, fiberglass and in some cases, hydraulic dampers to absorb crash energy. While the barriers served their purpose, unpopular styling diverted buyers back to the previous model’s year. This forced the government to reduce the testing speed to 2.5 mph, shrinking bumpers and reviving style from the dead.
The Best Bumper Brands
Car bumpers have evolved considerably and now use thermoplastic covers with a foam or egg-crate plastic core. This composite mixture collapses during a crash and diverts energy to the crumple zones of the car. Unfortunately, replacing a mangled bumper requires a trip to the dealership or a body shop. As far as aftermarket options go, trucks faired even better than their counterparts. Upgrades from AutoAnything like Aries bumpers or Smittybilt bumpers, are thicker and heavier, protecting trucks from boulders out on the trails—something unthinkable to the average driver back in 1973.
The Right Bumper for You
Whether you are cruising down the street or crawling over rocks, bumpers shield your ride from damage. If you have a bumper story or just need a push in the right bumper-buying direction, see our customer comments and reviews below. And, to see how far off-road bumper technology has come, check outTruck Bumpers: What are they made of?