Author Topic: Camaro 5mph bumpers  (Read 580 times)

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Offline Lifeguard

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Camaro 5mph bumpers
« on: February 13, 2018, 02:52:43 PM »
During evasive driving training review (don't ask, top secret), the technique of ramming to escape a blockade got speculating on the advantage of my '78 Camaro and other '75 to '81 F-bodies with the battering ram 5mph bumpers at the peak of federal regulation on bumper damage standards.

The standards were phased in under Nixon/Ford administration starting in '73 when they had to upgrade the Camaro standard and RS front ends to meet the slightly higher standard which is why those look different from the '70 to '72 Camaros.  I'm not sure how the Firebird addressed it?  And then the battering ram aluminum bumpers of the '74 to '77 Camaro; along with the urethane bumpers of the '78 to '81 Camaro, '74 to '76 Firebird, '77 to '78 Firebird, and the '79-'81 Firebird; were introduced.  I knew the Reagan administration had degraded the bumper damage standards from 5mph to 2.5mph and ignored cosmetic damage, which got me thinking because they only took office in January 1981, not enough time to make the change for the new restyled 1982 Camaro and Firebird.  I had always thought of the '75-'81 F-bodies as having the best bumpers for avoiding expensive bumper repairs like I suffered from a parking lot mishap in the '86 Z28 I had at one point.  Given the steep repair bill I had for the '86 Z28, I thought of third gens as being more fragile in the bumpers, but I wondered if the 1982 met the same 5mph standards as the 1981 did?

So I did some research.  It turns out the standards were incremental from the EO of Nixon/Ford through Carter, working up to the peak phase I in 1979 and phase II in 1980.  The Reagan administration EO downgraded the standard to phase I from 1983 model year onward.  Now I've owned two 1976s and a 1978, and I can't see any changes to the bumper after they upgraded them in 1974.  The '74-'77 Camaro seems nigh indestructible in bumper car matches at the stop lights, and the '78 to '81 were definitely meeting the higher standards.  I don't know of any changes in 1979 or 1980 that made those any different from 1978?  I think GM pretty much went straight for the full 5mph phase II standards in 1980 as far back as 1974? 

But that would also mean that the 1982 Camaro and Firebird had bumpers as resistant to damage as the '80-'81 bumpers?  And I wondered if the '83-'84 F-bodies had their bumpers changed at all?  I can tell you from experience by 1986 the bumpers not only received cosmetic damage in parking lot mishaps, but the shallow mounted turn signals were damaged, which is a big no-no on the federal regulations. 

Made me think that my idea that '75 to '81 Camaros and Firebirds making good evasive driving cars might also need to extend to at least '82 and maybe '83 and '84.