Sept. 2002 - Learning Euro Bumper Conversions
During September Stella is epoxy primed and waiting new fenders and front
core support before moving on to the paint. My painter Darrell has painted the
sunroof with the color of pearl metallic red I picked out to use. It's great to
the final result before you paint the whole thing, just in case you have second
thoughts - and it's cheaper than painting twice! I'm trying not to rush
even though I want to. My dad always says, "measure twice, cut once".
Meanwhile, Nick and I have been learning how to do the Euro conversion on big
cars. While the end result is great, there is a lot of work and some costs -
it's not a bolt on deal. While the back is straightforward, we've found there
several ways the front can be done. We can thank
Rob Torres for his
insight on this
process, as he has done it for several cars including his own. I realize the
aren't that great in an accident - I think the esthetic value is worth the risk.
This is the first of a 2 part series on how to do the conversions and
get rid of the "battering ram look" and take the Euro look to a late '02. We'll
the changes you need this month, and next month delve into the details.
AFTER: This is what you're going for. This is the car as it
looks after the full exterior repaint work and the euro bumper and the front
turn signal light conversion. The front reflectors under the turn signals
are gone and the holes are filled in. This is a later 72-73 front bumper
mounted on '72 brackets which are closer in to the body, and using '73 style
front bumper over-riders. The back quarter black trim that usually fills the
gap between the rear bumper and the rear fender lip edge is no longer
BEFORE: The original '75 California 2002 with almost no rust,
but a shot paint job. You've seen bad Polaris where the clear coat is gone -
this is somebody trying to paint over the lost clear coat. This look is what
a bad Maaco paint job looks like with extra heavy enamel. The original
factory Glazurit lacquer never gets quite this bad in most cases. There are
a few battle scars, including some scrapes. If you look at where the trim
holes are on the hood, the shiny part is the original Polaris. Somebody
didn't take off the trim before painting!!! Note the front fender side
reflectors are present.
BACK END: Once you get the bumpers off (3 bolts hold the
shocks inside the trunk, the rubber sides are 3 nuts each, inside the
fenders) you can see the rest of the unwanted holes, and the black plastic
seals over the original 73 and earlier bumper bracket mounting holes. These
caps must be removed and holes drilled through the body to the spare tire
well on the left, and the gas tank well on the right. These holes will be
visible once they are drilled through. More on this later.
There is a bumper shock cover that is black that bolts to the
body through 8 screws. This is an obsolete part. The holes it leaves behind
must be filled as shown by the red arrows. Ideally, the three bumper shock
holes should be filled to prevent water from entering the trunk area.
Cosmetically, these are hidden by the new bumper, so they don't have to be
pristine in terms of patching, just cover up the obvious. (Remember to take
your trunk spoiler off too!)
Here's a close up of the side holes that are no longer used.
All these must be filled and once painted, the new holes are drilled to the
body much farther up near the fender lip to attach the winged ends of the
Euro rear bumper.
OK, I forgot to take the pics of the bumper brackets in the
back, but I will do that when I replace the sides in the weeks ahead. This
picture shows how the Euro bumper tucks under the area where the old black
plastic bumper shock cover was fastened to the body. Note that the license
plate lights are in the bumper. You have to re-wire to accommodate the
imbedded bumper lights - for the time being we have redundant lights around
the plate but will relocate those wires to the bumper in a future update to
Here you see how the '72 brackets hug the bumper closer to
the body. In this low cost conversion, we used the existing bumper shock
holes to fasten the angle iron brackets. This allows you to place the
original big bumper front shock covers over the brackets holding the bumper
on to cover up the original square shock hole badness. They need to be
shortened, and in upcoming pictures we'll show how you do it.
COME NEXT MONTH.