At one time cars had real bumpers even mounted on shock absorbers to overcome a minor encounter with a fixed object, Yes...retractable bumpers enhanced by rubber strips were not a pretty sight on most cars.
When cars had real bumpers, real chrome and often lots of it, and expansive sheet metal. Perhaps it seems like yesterday but most of these cars are at least 50 years old.
This morning we have The Colonel with us, lets ask him a few questions regarding chrome.
Q- Colonel, thanks for being with us, which cars shows did you first attend?
A- GM Motorama, yes I was a kid, yes the chrome glittered.
Q- Which cars captured your imagination from back then?
A- Cadillac, since most had power window buttons, and the automatic eye (dimmer) on the dash. 1958 (I was a kid) Buick and Oldsmobile, which had excessive amounts of chrome all over the place it was over the top.
Q- Must have have been the styling vector of the time, similar to a Mercury Turnpike Cruiser.
A- Agreed, to this day there is something enduring that captures the imagination. Those were the days of rockets, satellites (Sputnik) and dream of going to the moon...did I forget "cold war" too.
Q- When cars had real bumpers you could give another car a small "tud" when parking.
A- That's one reason they had bumpers, you could feel your way in parking spots, a tud here a nudge there.
Q- What happened if someone really squeezed you into a parking space.
A- Lets just say that the thudding became more aggressive.
Q- What about the bumpers with shock absorbers in them.
A- That was in the early 1970's, all manufacturers were overwhelmed with safety mandates, emission mandates, the bumpers with the shocks were literally retrofitted as an afterthought on most cars. It was a case of 1972 cars still looking reasonably good and then 1973 cars having the bumpers sticking out.
Q- Overwhelmed, can you explain.
A- Everyone in the industry was somewhat overwhelmed at the time. Compression ratios decreased to deal with unleaded gas, catalytic converters suffocated engines, the bumpers added weight, cars had to be driven for 50,000 miles to comply with emission regulations.
Q-Is it also the time when bumpers started migrating behind a cover?
A- The Pontiac Grand Am at the time had the front bumper (what we understood at the time as a bumper) behind a plastic shell.