QOTD: Can We Inventory the Worst Bumpers of the 1970s?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
qotd can we inventory the worst bumpers of the 1970s

The TTAC Slack chat got to talking about Datsuns this week and, among mentions of the 280ZX Black Gold and 260Z, Datsun vault of knowledge Chris Tonn posted a picture of a late-Seventies 280Z.

It looked utterly terrible with its gigantic bumpers, and I soon became nauseous. But once that went away, I was left with a relevant and overarching question: Which car models were most negatively affected by the giant American bumpers of the 1970s?

Most of you lived through it, but some of you whippersnappers (and me) were not so fortunate to experience the Malaise starting shortly before the Carter era. A quick summary:

The large and in charge vehicles of the 1960s carried minimal bumper protection for the sake of styling, which lead to increasing repair costs in minor fender bender accidents. Much to the dismay of everyone beside insurance companies, the government decided to step in and offer up some regulation.

Beginning with model year 1974, 5 mile per hour bumpers were required on all new vehicles. The regulation said that at an angled 5 mph impact, the bumpers must ensure no damage occurs to a car’s lights, engine, or safety features. Awful bumpers ensued.

The regulators decided this wasn’t enough protection, and for 1979 the standard was raised to state that zero damage could occur in the same impact. Bring out the battle bumpers!

As the Malaise cooled, so did the regulators fervor for bumpers, and in 1982 the law was scaled back to 2.5 miles per hour. That’s where the regulation still rests today. All the cars you see here were made between 1974 and 1980, and I’m sure you B&B can make us a nice list of those most disturbed or ruined by bumper regulation.

Have at it!

[All images via their respective sellers at ClassicCars.com]

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  • CrystalEyes CrystalEyes on Mar 01, 2018

    I owned one of the 1974 and 1/2 MGBs mentioned above. I liked the look of the 'rubber bumper' cars, but the changes to the suspension (not just raised ride height) sucked. I eventually swapped the front suspension sub-assembly out for one from an earlier car and replaced the rear leaf springs with ones that were slightly stiffer and 'de-arched' to get the ride height back down. Ditching the original hydraulic dampers for adjustable gas charged ones, along with better tires and a stiffer anti-roll bar in front, transformed the handling of the car completely. I didn't see this as modifying the car so much as correcting the mistakes and bad decisions under which it was manufactured...

  • HotPotato HotPotato on Mar 07, 2018

    1981 VW Jetta. Dear god.

  • Crtfour I live in East Tennessee where most of the time driving is pretty low stress. But for work I have the misfortune of passing through Atlanta every 3-4 months. And passing through downtown you have to change lanes and merge so many times I still can't seem to keep it straight. On my last trip I ended up in an exit only lane ; the lane next to me where I had to get into was stopped so I was blocking the exit lane with this guy behind me blowing his horn and flashing his lights. I finally managed to get over finally allowing this guy to floor it and be on it's way. I consider myself a good driver with the exception of passing through there.
  • Pishta Those 80 B2000's were very Ford Courier like but the 81's had a completely new for Mazda dash. Less pods, more integration in one window. These didn't get the F motor until 84(?) only with the B2200 option. Single wall beds had lost of rust through issues. The 80 Quad headlamp grill was very rare, I dont rememeer seeing but one growing up.
  • FreedMike So it has transited out of existence here...
  • TheEndlessEnigma Self fulfilling prophesy. Ford spends virtually nothing on sales and marketing for the Transit....then scratches their collective heads not understand why it doesn't sell to their assumed objectives. If you do not market the vehicle, it will not sell. Pretty simple to understand really. Ford sure is working hard to make itself a niche automobile company, trucks and SUV's only. But that's OK, Kia/Hyundai/Toyota/Honda and yes even Volkswagen & Nissan are more than happy to sell to those customers Ford is apparently happy to walk away from.
  • NJRide I would think this segment would have a following but I guess not enough of a price difference with larger vans and probably too unrefined to be a sort of minivan alternative