Painting Bumper Inserts

I’ve read all the old posts about trying to retrofit Euro bumpers to our cars to eliminate the massive rubber bumpers that are supposed to protect us from those who park by sound rather than sight. These discussions can be summed up as, “it will take years to accumulate the parts, fortunes get them here, and mortgages to rechrome and fit them to our US spec cars [particularly the front].”
So the only other semi-solution seems to be painting them to match the car color so they begin to look like the integrated bumper covers of newer models. For a picture of this effort you may check out the lump for sale in Dallas, '76 xjs - IL - $12,000 on this site.
Since my lumped 87 XJ6 will need paint, I am considering this option to mitigate the sore thumb approach taken by auto manufacturers of the 80s. I am guessing that black bumpers were used because getting paint to stick to rubber for the length of the manufacturers warranty was, and may still not be very feasible.*
So here are my questions. First, are our bumpers rubber or something else? Second has paint technology evolved a product or additive that will allow for both coloration and adherence to our bumpers for at least a reasonable time?

  • Course the issue of premature deterioration may not have been much of a consideration if plastic headlight covers have anything to say about the matter.

Yes, the bumper covers are rubber. There is an additive you can add to the paint you choose to make it more flexible, so you could probably use any color. As usual, good prep is the best approach, and the picture shows a bumper corner I experimented with- from left to right- prepped rubber painted with hi-temp semi-gloss paint. Bare wet-sanded rubber. Finally, prepped rubber painted with SEM Bumper Coater. I did front and rear with the SEM paint, and they look like new.

Aesthetics aside, I very much doubt that paint will last more than a couple of months on the rubber parts. (Yes it’s rubber and very flexible)

On the chrome parts it might stay for a couple of months more, but soon enough it will start to peal off like a banana.
Unless of course you remove the chrome entirely, sand, polish etc… well, If you go that far you might as well re-chrome them.

And it sure looks like that the car on the ad had them painted the day before the pictures were taken…

They look very nice David indeed.
But really curious to see how well they will last in the real world. Please let us know.

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Hmmm, with my low, fair-weather mileage of less than 2000 per year, and my advancing age, a fair test may be difficult, but I will do my best before my keys are taken away!

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I dunno, there are some amazing paints out there. I’m into slot car racing right now, and we paint the clear polycarbonate (Lexan) bodies with Tamiya PS paints. After the paint dries, you can glue things to the painted surface with E-6000 glue, and later on if you need to repair or change something you can actually peel the glue off – with considerable difficulty, E-6000 is really good glue – and the paint stays on! It goes without saying you can bash the body repeatedly, sometimes getting it pretty crumpled up, and that paint stays put. If they can make paints that stick to polycarbonate that well, perhaps they can make paints that stick to rubbery car bumpers too.

Ya know, first thing I thought of when I saw one of other fav. makes of cars for the first time - the Canadian Bricklin :oncoming_automobile: - was “wow, they have pre-face lift XJS bumpers on them” … (or is it the PFL XJS has Bricklin bumpers?) :laughing:

Yes, but the Bricklin was reportedly designed for extreme safety. Like, those weren’t 5 mph bumpers, those were 30 mph bumpers.

I so much want to believe Kirbert is correct because it appears to be the only cost-effective way rescuing my 92 from the beneficent thinking of the federal regulators of that era. Incidentally, there isn’t much parallel parking done in this metropolis anymore. Most of the damage done to my cars are door dings and people who can’t seem to back out of a slanted parking space without catching my rear quarter panel.

So are you saying ours are (only) the standard 5 mph-rated bumpers, Palmdude? So, in other words, the big built-up look is only cosmetic? :open_mouth:

I think it’s a difference in objective. The US-spec bumpers were required to hit a wall at 5 mph with zero damage, just back away and go about your business. The bumpers on the Bricklin were designed to save your life.

Yep, that’s why the Bricklin’s model # was “SV I” = Safety Vehicle 1. That was a big sell to the car that induced the Canadian gov. to put $$ into it. :canada: So wish they had carried the car on for more than just a couple of years, but the bottom quickly fell out on the co. not long after production ramped up … :sob: