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Thread: Aftermarket Urethane Bumpers--A fiasco to fit

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    11

    Default Aftermarket Urethane Bumpers--A fiasco to fit

    Guys, this may be car specific, but I thought my comments may be of value to others. First some background.

    I'm the original owner of a 79 Pontiac Trans Am WS6, L-78/72 Pontiac engine equipped with a 4 speed. I've owned the car since May 1979. This car's finish, despite being cared for and being garaged was damaged in a sand storm in NM. Prior to that storm the OEM paint was immaculate. I kept it that way. After that storm, I did what I could to keep the paint sound, but finally in 93, the OEM paint was done, shortened no doubt by the storm, and the car was repainted by me. That was an endeavor that took me about 4 months. It received a Dupont BC/CC system. All of the work was performed by me in my garage. After retiring from the military in 2003, I returned to South Florida. Unfortunately, the car could not be garage for long periods of time, and the vicious Florida sun began eating up my previously wet sanded clear. The damage continued despite my efforts so the decision was made to completely restore the car. It is taking years to do. It going to be a show-car.

    My first concern was whether the acrylic lacquer bc/cc on the car could be top coated with modern bc/cc. Every bodyshop visited told me no, as did this folks on this forum. I was hoping for an easy out...nothing of the kind.

    The restoration began and slowly progressed. All the work but for upholstery and new windshield have been performed by me. When removing the paint from the front and rear urethane bumper covers some time back, I saw that the urethane was breaking down. Spider cracks appeared everywhere and after 36 years, I opted to purchase new bumper covers from a Pontiac specific vendor. Despite the alleged claim that no modifications were necessary, that was from from the truth. I spent 80 hours working the fit of the front bumper cover. It was terribly distorted when it arrived and the distortion never really went away. It was fully prepped and coat with flexible primer. The distortion was so severe that attempting to pull and push the urethane, even with warming the urethane with a heat gun resulted in flaking off of the primer in many places. I finally got it mounted on the front of the car, but to my dismay, the driver's side simply was out of shape. This would not do for a show car.

    I complained to the manufacturer and they sent me another cover at no charge to me. This second cover was not too distorted and I immediately decided to proceed with it. The problem with this cover was different. The edges that fit to the fenders were not straight and did not follow the lines of the fender. The gap was not straight and too big. The side contours were way off too. In addition, the urethane surface was not smooth and had thousands of imperfections: deep cuts, scars, scrapes and pits. These flaws told me the mold that compressed the hot urethane in the shape of the cover was dirty and that dirt left a horrendous finish when the material cooled. Holes to mount the cover were not in the correct location either nor the right size. Plastic was added to the bumper cover to mimic the fender line and plastic was added everywhere to correct all the damn blemishes. Curing imperfections continues as I get closer to applying bc to the car etc.

    I spent over 100 man-hours working this replacement aftermarket urethane front bumper cover. It does fit, and fits a bit tighter than the OEM cover now...but what I had to go through to get there was absolutely ridiculous. My guess is both the front and rear covers are manufactured in Asia.

    Below are photos of the first aftermarket unit. This one was happily returned to the manufacturer.







    (Now I know why Chip Foose put a fiberglass bumper on a 78 TA and that unit required considerable work to get it to fit. )

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    39,332

    Default

    I agree that is intolerable. Is the OEM bumper available? If so I'd get one and if not a fiberglass may be the way to go, at least you can make the fiberglass do what you want.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    261

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    Welcome to the aftermarket junk world. Try to find a oem bumper cover keep looking. The newer aftermarket covers for late models are a little better quality.

  4. #4
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    Nov 2005
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    If you are purchasing aftermarket parts try to make sure that they are CAPA Certified.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    11

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    The second cover sent me was worked and is installed on the car. See photo below. That's the one I spent over 100 hours on. It fits because I worked the hell out of it. Aftermarket large parts are seldom as refined as the OEM. My original TA OEM hood had some rust that was repaired a couple of years ago, however, while the car sat in my garage, what was supposedly fixed, returned. Totally aggravated, I opted for a new after market hood, that was manufactured in Taiwan. Surprisingly, this hood fits better than the original. Maybe I got a good one.


  6. #6
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    Jan 2006
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    261

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    Glad it is working out for you..... with time and money I am sure a new original bumper would show up. Keep us posted

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    I know that warming it up can make a BIG difference, putting it out in the sun for hours held in such a way that it goes into the shape you want. THEN install it on the car while it's warm.

    But aftermarket or reproduction parts are just "similar" and "can be used if nothing else is available" is how I look at them.

    Brian
    Touched by an Angel.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    lower Michigan
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    20,384

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    Quote Originally Posted by MARTINSR View Post
    I know that warming it up can make a BIG difference, putting it out in the sun for hours held in such a way that it goes into the shape you want. THEN install it on the car while it's warm.

    But aftermarket or reproduction parts are just "similar" and "can be used if nothing else is available" is how I look at them.

    Brian
    In the last ten years or even longer I have had excellent results with aftermarket parts. It's pretty rare that I get a part that doesn't fit correctly. It was NOT like that that when the aftermarket parts first became available. Most of them were terrible. We used to joke that with every aftermarket part the company should supply a die grinder required to make the parts fit. I have bought quite a few Ford truck aftermarket body panels and they have fit just as well or better than most OEM factory parts.

    That first aftermarket Trans Am bumper was terrible. Almost like it was stored for a long period of time with something heavy sitting on top of the left half of that bumper, pushing it permanently out of shape.

  9. #9
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    Nov 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil V View Post
    In the last ten years or even longer I have had excellent results with aftermarket parts. It's pretty rare that I get a part that doesn't fit correctly. It was NOT like that that when the aftermarket parts first became available. Most of them were terrible. We used to joke that with every aftermarket part the company should supply a die grinder required to make the parts fit. I have bought quite a few Ford truck aftermarket body panels and they have fit just as well or better than most OEM factory parts.

    That first aftermarket Trans Am bumper was terrible. Almost like it was stored for a long period of time with something heavy sitting on top of the left half of that bumper, pushing it permanently out of shape.
    I usually try to get CAPA Certified Parts which always fit well. Some of the cheaper parts have fit problems but, as usual, it's the old "you-get-what-you-pay-for" thing.,

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