Lately here at CC, there has been talk of of how effective certain aftermarkets accessories designed to enhance the visual appeal of cars have been, such as canvas tops and wheels. Today, I present a feature designed not so much to add an air of luxury or sportiness, but rather to protect the car: the bumper guard. The 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle is one of my all-time favorite combinations of year, make and model, so it took me less than maybe fifteen seconds to ask my cousin and his wife to stop their Subaru so I could hop out and get some pictures of this one parked in front of their local, upscale, outdoor mall.
I’ll just get this out of the way: do / did these bumper guards actually work? I ask, because it would seem an absolute shame if they didn’t, as they almost completely wreck the looks of what I consider to be one of the finest posteriors in all of American auto-dom. I was born in the mid-’70s, so my very first experience of cars and their bumpers were from the perspective that larger, 5-mph “safety” bumpers were the norm. When I was very young, it was cars from the late-’60s through the early-’70s, with their thin, blade-like or looped bumpers, that looked bare and somewhat unfinished.
It was only later into my burgeoning car obsession that I learned from those “in the know” that the thin-bumper versions of familiar cars were considered superior in the looks department to those that followed. I eventually adopted this mindset so as not to go against the grain, but I’ll just come right out and say it: I love the ’74 Camaro restyle. There. Its larger, chrome bumpers were well-sculpted and integrated, and their basic shapes – both front and rear – complemented both the new nose and flag-shaped, wraparound taillamps perfectly. Of course, there were major bumper-offenders in the ’70s (ahem, Dearborn, ahem), but today, the size of a car’s bumpers – new or old – no longer correlates directly with its desirability in my heart and mind.
Having no firsthand experience, I can’t imagine these sabretooth-looking appendages would do any good outside of perhaps in a scenario where this car is regularly backed (very slowly) into a tight-fitting garage or carport. Visually, these things are scaled so big that my feelings are actually just a little bit hurt simply by looking at them. They’re maybe one footstep shy of those Yosemite Sam mudflaps telling you to “BACK OFF” in all-caps. They’re like two, chrome, rubber-capped exclamation points, with the car coolly stating, “I don’t give a damn how I look. You come any closer, and I will cut you.”
As illustrated by the burgundy example above, the “factory” bumper guards are much smaller and subtle, tastefully flanking the license plate holder spot. Since I really don’t know, would those of you with experience weigh in and tell me if these rear fangs are worth their price in the looks department? At least the “Bumper Bully” still attached to the back of the Lexus on the left can be easily removed and tossed into the trunk (which, um, probably could have been done at the house in this case, but whatever). Here’s hoping that if the owner of this beautiful, brown Chevelle chooses to reverse this questionable cosmetic procedure, it will be able to be done with minimal adverse consequences to the car.
(Dayton suburb) Beavercreek, Ohio.
Saturday, April 7, 2012.