Slick the ’36 Ford

Smooth­ing and Adapt­ing a '39 Buick Bumper for a Cus­tom Look

Street Rodder - - Contents - ■ Pho­tog­ra­phy by the Au­thor ■ By Gerry Burger

Smooth­ing and adapt­ing a ’39 Buick

bumper for a cus­tom look

Au­to­mo­tive styling was rapidly chang­ing in the mid ’30s.

The '33-'34 Ford fend­ers were the first with side skirts be­hind the wheels; by 1935 Ford had en­tered what hot rod­ders af­fec­tion­ately call the “fat fend­ered” era. The new, round fend­ers were more stream­lined and fully covered the wheels. The '35 Ford em­ployed a grille with styling cues car­ried over from 1934. While the '36 Ford shared many body parts with the '35 model, the new grille had a dis­tinctly modern look, with the V-shape ta­per­ing back to the hood. It was a stylish treat­ment that met with the ap­proval of the gen­eral pub­lic and hot rod­ders alike. While the grille was modern, the front and rear bumpers were still rem­i­nis­cent of the '34 bumper. The cen­ter dip pro­vides clear­ance for the hand crank, should it be needed, and the curled ends of the bumper def­i­nitely re­call the ear­lier cars. How­ever, in our hum­ble opin­ion, the bumpers, both front and rear, ap­pear to be too short for the car, end­ing al­most in the cen­ter of the front fend­ers.

The '36 Ford body style lends it­self to be­ing a rod, a cus­tom, or of­ten both. Think back to the famed Pier­son Broth­ers '36 coupe. It ran DeSoto bumpers, fen­der skirts, Ap­ple­ton spots, wide white­walls, but could also be stripped down for a rapid pass across the salt. Such is the ver­sa­til­ity of the '36 Ford, which brings us to the '36 Ford phaeton seen here.

As we all know, street rod­ding is as much about friends as it is cars. So af­ter sell­ing my '57 Ford Ranch Wagon, my good friend Al Cas­teen was cer­tain he had the next car for me. Af­ter some brief ne­go­ti­a­tions I was the proud owner of the '36 tub seen here.

I headed up to Vir­ginia to col­lect said phaeton and along the way picked up an­other long­time pal, Larry Shoaf. We re­trieved the car and on the way back home I men­tioned the first thing to go would be the stock bumpers. I spoke of V-ing a '40 Ford pickup bumper for the front when Shoaf men­tioned he had an old bumper in his shed that car­ried a fac­tory V-shape. He thought it was a late-’30s or early-’40s GM bumper. When we ar­rived at his house the bumper was placed on the front bumper irons of the '36. It ap­peared to be the per­fect width and cur­va­ture, plus it was a great-look­ing bumper.

Once home the orig­i­nal bumper was re­moved and the “new” bumper was clamped in place. I felt it was the per­fect up­grade for my new­found '36. A bit of re­search in­di­cated it was a '39 Buick bumper. In less than an hour on­line I had lo­cated a rear '39 Buick bumper, so I now had a match­ing pair.

The phaeton will be run­ning a hopped-up 59AB Flat­head mo­tor so the key here was to keep things tra­di­tional. We de­cided to use the stock Ford bumper irons to mount the '39 Buick bumper. We also filled the orig­i­nal bumper mount­ing holes for a nice early cus­tom touch and fab­ri­cated mounts to the back­side of the Buick bumper to mate to the Ford bumper irons. Our mounts are sim­ple,

3⁄16- inch plates welded to the in­side of the bumper. This pro­vides a nice, flat sur­face to mate to the bumper irons and also en­sures we won’t dis­tort or crack the bumper when tight­en­ing the bolts; two prob­lems that can oc­cur if you sim­ply weld studs to the back side of the bumper.

In the process of adapt­ing the bumpers we did heat and bend the

Ford brack­ets a bit and we also slot­ted the bumper iron mount­ing holes on the driver side bumper irons to pro­vide front to back ad­just­ment. This al­lowed us to fit the bumper per­fectly. Re­mem­ber you are work­ing on an 81-year-old au­to­mo­bile. That orig­i­nal bumper has no doubt been bumped, used to pull other cars, and maybe had the weight of the car lifted on it. It pays to take pre­lim­i­nary mea­sure­ments of the orig­i­nal bumper and the bumper irons be­fore try­ing to adapt a new bumper. By get­ting the bumper irons match­ing from side to side, mount­ing the new bumper level cen­tered will be much eas­ier. The job is pretty straight­for­ward work, but like all things, work slowly, mea­sure twice, cut once, and keep things cen­tered and level.

In the end we be­lieve the '39 Buick bumper gave our '36 Ford a wider, lower look and the 79-year-old bumper was just “modern” enough to pro­vide a nice cus­tom touch. The bumper also gently sweeps around the cor­ner of the fend­ers, pro­vid­ing pro­tec­tion and good looks. The sculpted shape of the Buick bumper also adds a nice touch of de­tail. The filled holes en­hance the smooth lines of the Buick bumper and when the bumper re­turns from Ad­vanced Plat­ing in Nashville our bumper makeover will be com­plete. The prin­ci­ples be­hind mount­ing this bumper will ap­ply to many cars with ex­posed bumper irons, so fol­low along as we mount a '39 Buick bumper to our '36 Ford phaeton.

For the dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ence:

■ The new grille was sleek and aero­dy­namic by '36 stan­dards, and in our opin­ion the Ford bumpers look too old and too short for the sleek new de­sign.

■ A filled '39 Buick bumper gives our '36 Ford a wider, smoother ap­pear­ance, and the good news is adapt­ing it was easy.

■ The first step was to sim­ply rest the new '39 Buick bumper on top of the bumper irons to check for proper width and con­tour. The Buick bumper was V’d from the fac­tory and the width ap­peared to be good.

■ Af­ter re­mov­ing the orig­i­nal bumper we clamped the Buick bumper to the Ford bumper irons. We were amazed at how per­fectly the new bumper fit the con­tours of the '36 Ford fend­ers.

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