Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Aluminum Bumpers

In the Malaise Era, manufacturers were eager to embrace whatever weight-saving, efficiency-enhancing technology and techniques their engineers could think up. One of those clever moves was lighter-weight aluminum bumpers, which were heralded as the next big thing. Usually, aluminum was only used for the front bumper, but the 1980 Chrysler New Yorker had alloy on the both the front and rear.
As it turns out, aluminum wasn’t an ideal choice for bumpers, for a number of reasons, and they didn’t really make that big an impact. [Ba-doom tish!] Nowadays, you’re much more likely to find a polymer honeycomb behind a non-rigid fascia. But how many different models did come from the factory defended by formed aluminum bash bars? That’s what this installment of Encyclopedia Hoonatica wants to know.
Difficulty: It helps if you’re a giraffe; the low-hanging fruit will quickly get gobbled up.
How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates. Bonus points for adding photos. Remember, you can simply paste in the raw image URL now, thanks to the magic of Disqus.
Image Source: Chrysler and GM sales brochures, each scanned by half the people on the Internet.

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  1. PotbellyJoe★★★★★ Avatar

    The initial Ford Fairlane Tunderbolts had fiberglass bumpers, but it was witched to Aluminum later in the run thanks to racing requirements.

    1. Tomsk Avatar

      The picture is of a Galaxie, but I think the lightweight versions of those had aluminum bumpers, as well.

      1. PotbellyJoe★★★★★ Avatar

        You’re right. I grabbed this while on my phone, so I could only make it so big.
        Correct picture:

  2. JayP Avatar

    US Spec 944 and prolly 924 too…
    The brackets for the amber turn signals were damaged, picked up an undamaged one for $10. I was surprised they were aluminum.

    1. nanoop Avatar

      I’d say the traverse core between the bumper shocks is steel, clad in fibers – but aluminum brackets sounds pretty Porsch-y indeed.

  3. JayP Avatar

    Audi 200/5000. My car was silver and never noticed the difference in the bumper color to paint. I thought they were painted. Learned something new today.

  4. Roger Henry Avatar
    Roger Henry

    My less-than-lovely 1980 Pinto.

  5. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    The “bridge guard” bumpers on Checkers were aluminum.

  6. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    You can’t tell from looking at the car, but under the chrome cap and rubber cover, the front and rear bumpers of the Jaguar XJ-S were aluminum.

    1. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      As Jaguars are from England, wouldn’t they be ‘aluminium’ ?

      1. smalleyxb122 Avatar


      2. Mike England Avatar
        Mike England

        Good catch, Rover

  7. Scoff Law Avatar
    Scoff Law

    My 1975 Audi 100 LS had them…
    The only thing rarer than that car is finding a picture of one on the web.

  8. 0A5599 Avatar

    Plymouth Feather Duster.
    The front bumper on my Typhoon is injection molded ABS, but the structural member it is rivited to is stamped aluminum.

  9. longrooffan Avatar

    Pretty certain the bumpers on my E30s were al-u-min-ium as well.

    1. Manic_King Avatar

      Also, ‘Nivamino’ (VAZ 2329) and many other Ladas

    2. nanoop Avatar

      I only wonder why: a last-minute swing in order to, ahem, save weight?

      1. Manic_King Avatar

        Not sure if in seventies USSR anyone cared about weight savings, probably alu mill was near and transport was easy to arrange.

  10. Eduardo Rodrigues Avatar

    The obscure 1987 Buick Regal WE4 (a lightweight Grand National) had aluminium bumper braces

    1. Cameron Vanderhorst Avatar
      Cameron Vanderhorst

      Finned aluminum rear drum brakes, too! A few years ago, I tried to grab a set for my ’86 Cutlass from the junkyard, but they were far too corroded. 🙁

    2. Please Stand By Avatar
      Please Stand By

      Came to post this, leaving satisfied.

    1. mike england Avatar
      mike england

      LOL – is that dude doing a shot while driving the Budmobile?

      1. Tanshanomi Avatar

        No, of course not. He’s doing a shot while riding shotgun in the Budmobile

  11. dukeisduke Avatar

    I’ve owned three cars with aluminum bumpers;
    Two Vegas – a ’75:
    and a ’76 (in this color, except a GT):
    and a ’78 Audi Fox:
    The bumpers on the ’74 – ’77 Vegas were aluminum alloy with a pure aluminum coating.

  12. KAC Avatar

    While doing research on this I found something interesting. Kaiser Aluminum (part of H.J. Kaiser’s empire but separate from Kaiser Motors) all-aluminum concept cars penned by Frank Hershey in the late 50’s. None of these were build but yes, they would have had aluminum bumpers.

  13. Alcology Avatar

    AMC Eagle and a number of other AMC products

    1. dead_elvis Avatar

      Orange, flathood wagon with Virgos?! So much want. Hell, I’d even take it with the less than beloved automatic of that era Brick, although it’s almost certainly a manual.