Those of you who follow the progress on my Datsun would have most likely noticed the absence of a rear bumper in the photos I’ve posted over the past couple of years. This has been a long-running saga for me, which I’ve finally sat down and taken the time to explain. Ready for a long story? Read on…
Around 3 years ago I was involved in a minor rear-end collision which saw my pristine bumper bent like a pretzel. This bumper didn’t come with the car when I bought it, it was one that I sourced myself and had re-chromed out of my own pocket. After my insurance gave me the all-clear, I dropped the damaged car off at their approved repair shop to be fixed, and took on the task of finding another rear bumper. I found a straight rear bumper through Datsport and had them ship it over, then it was re-chromed at the shop that the panel beater always uses for their chrome work. Once the car was repaired and back on the road for a few months, I noticed some rust starting to form in the crevices of the bumper ends, where the side pieces are welded to the center section. Over time, the rusty residue grew into proper rust bubbles.
At this point I contacted the panel shop, who contacted my insurance and we all agreed to strip it and re-chrome it a second time to hopefully cure this issue. This time, however, I insisted we use my choice of re-chromer, the shop who did my first bumper which I was very happy with (before it got bent!). Unfortunately, this decision would be my downfall.
Over the next year or so, I had to partake in a game of “call the re-chromer every week to ask for updates and get the run-around”. I heard every excuse under the sun, from “it’ll be ready next week” (I heard that about 10 times) to “I got sick of looking at it so I put it aside for a while”. Not only that, but when there was progress it was always in the form of him telling me that the repair work was resulting in the finish being pitted and ugly. The final straw was a phone call where the lovely gentlemen who owns the establishment informed me that the bumper was packed up and ready to give back to me, but someone had accidentally run over it with the forklift. Yes, you read that right. I kept my composure and asked him how the repaired section looked before it was run over, to which he replied “pretty shit”. I think he was sick of it, and so was I. This series of images perfectly sum up my range of emotions at that time…
I called my insurance and explained the whole story to them. They sent an assessor to the chrome shop to inspect the now destroyed bumper, and agreed for me to source and re-chrome yet another one. In an uncanny turn of events, I ended up finding a perfect candidate from the person I bought my first bumper off! I took a 1hr drive to his house, snapped it up and a week later dropped it off to another re-chromer that was recommended to me through a friend. From the moment I stepped into this new shop, I knew I’d made the right decision. The owner was calm, honest, and wanted to take the time to do a proper job, insisting on pulling the bumper apart and then re-assembling it after it’s new coat of chrome. He even replaced a broken mounting stud that I was more than happy to live with, but he wouldn’t stand for it. Another sign that I was in the right place was seeing a lot of other car parts waiting to be re-dipped, as opposed to the last place I used who had large industrial contracts, therefore pushing my bumper to the bottom of thier priority list.
During this time, I didn’t necessarily mind the look of the car without the bumper, in fact I grew to like it. But, they’re there for a reason, and I’d hate to think how much panel damage would have been sustained if I was hit without one.
Instead of rushing things and bolting it straight on to the car, I went out and bought all new stainless nuts and bolts. Definitely a worthwhile investment, and cheap too, this whole bunch was well under $10.
Another great thing about the new re-chromer that I used is that he gave me a great tip to try to combat the rust issue that plagued my last bumper. Apparently it’s not a rare occurrence, and one way to try to prevent it is to paint some clear coat into the bumper seams. The theory is that the clear coat will form a seal and stop water from sitting in the seams and rusting. I had nothing to lose, so I gave it a shot.
To do this, I taped up each side of the seam to keep any rogue paint off the actual face of the bumper, and used a very thin brush to put as much clear as I could inside the seam. I think I ended up doing about 4 coats. At first I used whatever I happened to have in the garage, which was some high-temp clear coat in a rattle can that I sprayed into the lid and dipped the brush into. This wasn’t ideal, as the consistency of the paint wasn’t too good, it didn’t dry properly, and it had a yellow tinge to it. I eventually got my hands on some proper 2-pack clear which I had to reduce with thinners and mix in some hardener, this worked much better.
I also had the numberplate light surround re-chromed. These lights are unique to JDM/AUDM, USDM 510’s have two lights mounted to the rear body of the car, on either side of the plate. I’m not sure which version the European delivered cars run.
Finally, car and bumper meet.
Here’s a summary of the events of what I now refer to as “Bumpergate”
Early 2009 – Involved in light rear-end collision
Mid 2009 – Repaired and back on the road
Late 2009 – Notice rust starting to form on bumper
Early 2010 – Rust getting worse, contact insurance, drop bumper off to be re-chromed
Early 2010 – Mid 2011 (yes, a year and a half!) – Endless broken promises by re-chromer
Mid 2011 – Re-chromer informs me the bumper has been run over by a forklift
Late 2011 – Agree with insurance to source another 2nd hand bumper, take to new re-chromer
Early 2012 – Saga over!
3 years of fun! I’m so glad it’s over, no more “where’s your bumper?” questions for me!
*Neptune art (without bumper) sourced from miguelcoimbra.com.