A Split With Tra­di­tion

Street Rodder - - Contents -

Build­ing a cus­tom split rear bumper

Build­ing a Cus­tom Split Rear Bumper

■ By Gerry Burger ■ Photography by the Au­thor

♦ My lat­est project is a 1936 Ford Phaeton, and in the

Nov. ’18 is­sue of STREETRODDER the car re­ceived a

1939 Buick front bumper. The bumper it­self re­quired no mod­i­fi­ca­tions, just a new mount­ing sys­tem. The V-shaped front bumper fit the pro­file of the 1936 Ford per­fectly and tucked in nice and tight. I feel cer­tain this bumper would also work on many other brands of mid to late ’30s cars (par­tic­u­larly 1939 Buicks).

Pleased with the look of the front bumper, we lo­cated a rear 1939 Buick bumper to adapt to the rear of our 1936 Ford. This process proved to be a bit more in­volved. First, we re­moved the spare tire and car­rier from the rear of the car, be­cause in our hum­ble opin­ion, the spare tire gets in the way of that gor­geous sweep­ing flat­back panel. The spare also makes the car look very long. With the spare tire re­moved we set about adapt­ing the 1939 Buick bumper.

The first or­der of busi­ness was tak­ing some ba­sic mea­sure­ments. As it turns out, the orig­i­nal bumper on the car was out of align­ment by over 1-1/2 inches. This could have been caused by many things. First,

1936 au­to­mo­biles were not ex­actly pre­ci­sion built, tol­er­ances were “gen­er­ous.” Sec­ond, un­doubt­edly over the past 82 years this old car may have been push-started or used a chain to pull an­other car home. Ei­ther way we set about heat­ing and bend­ing the bumper irons un­til they were both iden­ti­cal. This en­sured we would be mount­ing the new bumper to equally spaced brack­ets. There would be more mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the brack­ets dur­ing the process, and we were able to tuck the Buick bumper nice and tight to the body, re­sult­ing in a much shorter-ap­pear­ing car. In the end, the bumpers were just be­yond the face of the tail­light lens.

While we could have mounted the Buick bumper as a one-piece bumper, we de­cided to build a li­cense plate re­cess into the bumper. Bor­row­ing a con­cept from the late ’30s and early ’40s Lin­coln Ze­phyr, we de­cided to use two bars in the mid­dle of the bumper as a li­cense plate re­cess. If you pre­fer to

leave the li­cense plate light mounted to the driver-side tail­light this mod­i­fi­ca­tion is a good way to change the length of a bumper and use the tub­ing as a sim­ple styling que.

Like most things on old cars, this got a bit more in­volved than an­tic­i­pated, but in the end we were very pleased with bumper. It is now about 1-inch shorter than the orig­i­nal 1939 Buick bumper, and much like the front bumper this rear piece con­forms nicely to the shape of the car.

Of course, the same prin­ci­ples in­volved here ap­ply to vir­tu­ally any car and most early bumpers; it cer­tainly does not have to be a 1939 Buick bumper on a 1936 Ford. So fol­low along as we slice and dice an old bumper to give our Ford a more mod­ern ap­pear­ance, and a lit­tle ex­tra style. It may in­spire you to take a sim­i­lar ap­proach on your next project.

■ The orig­i­nal 1936 Ford Phaeton is pretty busy look­ing from the rear. The spare tire and dropped-cen­ter rear bumper and bumper guards are hid­ing a beau­ti­ful sweep­ing, “flat­back” panel. (Be­low) Re­mov­ing the spare tire and adding a mod­i­fied 1939 Buick rear bumper gives our 1936 tub a whole new look.

■ Re­mov­ing the spare tire and mov­ing the li­cense plate from the driver­side tail­light to the bumpers makes a dra­matic dif­fer­ence, but we have big­ger plans.

■ With the 1939 Buick bumper clamped to the in­board por­tion of the Ford bumper irons, the bumper is too far from the fen­ders, so it’s time for some bumper tuck­ing. ■ Be­fore we can be­gin any mod­i­fi­ca­tions we must be sure both bumper irons are the same shape. Our pre­lim­i­nary mea­sure­ments in­di­cated they were quite dif­fer­ent. First, we lev­eled the two bumper irons with a long level.

■ The pas­sen­ger-side bumper iron was al­most 2 inches fur­ther away from the fen­der than the driver side. Us­ing a large C-clamp and some heat from our Oxy-Acety­lene torch, we care­fully bent the bracket to­ward the fen­der. Al­ways use ex­treme care with an open flame any­where near or around the gas tank of an old car. We did not use the torch on the driver side due to the prox­im­ity of the fuel neck, cap, and vent.

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