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76 Electra bumper cushions

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Hi all. New to the forum. Recently obtained my first older Buick, a 1976 Electra Limited. A survivor in pretty good overall condition, which I obtained from the second owner. I'm starting the restoration and have not been able to find the front or rear bumper cushions for the car. The bumpers themselves and the bumper guards are in pretty good condition, but the metal plating attaching the cushions to the bumper are rusted and warped. From what I hear, this is pretty common. Any suggestions or leads would be a huge help. Thanks!

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Welcome! The '76 Electras were some really nice cars! They might not be the most economical to drive down the road, but with some care I suspect they'll not be too much worse than a current model SUV, in that respect. AND looking MUCH CLASSIER than ANY modern SUV vehicle!

The metal structure was an integral part of the bumper impact strips (on the bumper itself). If you can salvage the square-shouldered bolts, you might possibly get some sheet metal and cut it into strips, punch appropriate "holes" in it for the studs, and make something like that. Considering the general condition of the rubber/vinyl in the impact strips, a great deal of finesse might be needed to cut the metal strips out of the impact strip itself, so they can be reproduced and replaced.

A complicating factor is that the impact strip material has probably shrunk enough to allow it to become "loose" from the metal attachment items. This could make an otherwise fragile part even more so.

This type of impact strip configuration was used for almost all of GM's full-size and larger cars all the way up to and past the body change in the 1977 model year (when the downsized platforms were first introduced) and into the later 1980s.

The shrinkage of material also affected the white inserts, too, leaving gaps at the corner joints and at the ends of each respective piece.

It might be nice if somebody could reproduce these bumper strips. Unfortunately, there were so many exterior contours, inserts or no inserts, textured of smooth surface differences between all of the various models and model years (not counting the bumper guard or no bumper guard variations!), that reproduction would be pretty near impossible. Plus, as the cars are not widely-collected or have reached their ultimate higher "collector" status, few owners might want to pay about $1K for a set of correct bumper impact strips.

I've seen some owners who removed the strips, put bumper bolts in the impact strip's attachment holes, and polished things up. Looks kind of "basic", though, but better than damaged impact strips.

As the channel under the impact strip is pretty smoooth, it might be possible to get some of the "Buick LeSabre" side molding (like I've seen in an assortment at Maaco, locally) and use 3M double-sided body side molding tape to attach to the bumper, using the existing holes to also drill some small holes and use small sheet metal screws (with a larger flat washer) to help hold the molding onto the bumper (from the backside). Might not be factory correct, but a way to keep "the look" of the original situation. Might be a little tricky getting them to make the corner at the edge of the bumper, considering the thickness of this particular molding!

Just some thoughts,


Edited by NTX5467 (see edit history)

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Thanks so much for your reply and suggestions.

I'm scheduled to drop her off for a paint job next week, so I probably won't have her for a month or so. Hopefully the weather here in Ohio will be better by then and I'll be spending more time out in the garage to attempt to tackle the salvaging/repairing the bumper strips. You're exactly right about the loosening and warping of the rubber and the metal components of the bumper cushions. Hopefully I, and possibly with the help of the restoration shop I'm using for the paint job, can repair or modify the strips and make it look more presentable.

Called around to a few places and could only find reproductions of the Cadillac Fleetwood and Eldorado rear bumper cushions, suprisingly at reasonable prices. Just not the same demand for the mid/late 70s Electras and other "C" body GM cars. Just enough variation between the different makes that they are probably not interchangeable.

You're also right on about the mileage. My 2011 Enclave only beats out the 1976 Electra by a couple MPGs. The Electra still rides well, looks good and gets a lot of comments/looks.


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