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They may get lit­tle thought, but head back more than forty years and you’ll dis­cover that bumpers de­fined the look of the 911 for a gen­er­a­tion

Total 911 - - Contents -

Im­pact bumpers changed the 911’s sil­hou­ette in 1974, but the G-se­ries look is now revered

The amer­i­can car mar­ket has in­flu­enced the 911 in many ways. a 1971 re­quire­ment that cars must sur­vive a 5mph (8km/h) im­pact with­out fur­ther dam­age to body­work, for many man­u­fac­tur­ers, meant adopt­ing huge and no­tably ugly bumpers, but porsche had a bet­ter idea. in­stead of af­ter­thoughts that re­sem­bled bridge gird­ers, Wolf­gang möbius skil­fully blended them into the ne­unelfer’s body­work: the ‘im­pact bumper’ had ar­rived.

it’s fair to say that not every­one found the chunky new look ap­peal­ing. paint­ing them in body colour cer­tainly helped with their in­te­gra­tion, how­ever, and porsche’s ap­proach to the prob­lem was typ­i­cally thor­ough. Form­ing them from alu­minium of around 5mm thick­ness kept weight down, but the clever part, from a styling per­spec­tive, was the use of short rub­ber/polyurethane bel­lows at each end that al­lowed for their move­ment in a low-speed knock while neatly cov­er­ing the gap be­tween bumper and body­work.

on ve­hi­cles headed state­side the bumpers were at­tached to hy­draulic dampers that ab­sorbed any im­pact and al­lowed the bumper to re­turn to its orig­i­nal po­si­tion, while row cars used cheaper and lighter crush­able steel tubes that would be re­placed fol­low­ing any col­li­sion. While the new bumpers might have looked sim­ple, an im­pres­sive num­ber of sec­tions and fit­tings were used in their con­struc­tion, fur­ther ev­i­dence of porsche’s engi­neer­ing in­tegrity.

The look was kept de­lib­er­ately clean and unfussy on the out­side, though, with just the ad­di­tion of black rub­bing strips in the cen­tre to pro­tect against mi­nor park­ing mishaps, and a pair of neat over­rid­ers at the rear, lo­cated ei­ther side of the num­ber plate (and in­cor­po­rat­ing the num­ber plate light­ing). at the front, indi­ca­tor lenses were in­cor­po­rated at each end, along with head­lamp washer jets where nec­es­sary, but that was it in terms of em­bel­lish­ment.

it was a look that lasted right through un­til 1989, when the 3.2 car­rera bowed out to be re­placed with the 964, which adopted an al­to­gether smoother de­sign. im­pact bumpers have pro­vided en­thu­si­asts with an easy point of ref­er­ence when it comes to 911 gen­er­a­tions, and it’s surely only porsche that could have turned a reg­u­la­tory de­feat into a de­sign vic­tory.

“Wolf­gang Möbius skil­fully blended the bumpers into the Ne­unelfer’s body­work”

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