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Why actually, are they not around anymore, these wonderful, chrome plated objects which, in the past, were called bumpers. Allegedly, to make place for their own cars, the French drivers used to shunt a whole row of parked cars if their hand-brakes were not pulled up. They were to be had with and without rubber horns (picture 4), mostly they were not glued on and could easily be replaced.

No, they disappeared in the 1990s. Thereby, they could cope with small bumps better than those we have today, which are completely integrated into the design of the bodywork and where perhaps the paint can be attacked or their plastic covering could even crack.

That today's so called aprons, and are better integrated into the bodywork, is only partially true, among other things, for the VW-Beetle. If however, one has a look at e.g., certain American cars from around the same period (pictures 2/3), one does indeed discover shapes that have been adapted to fit in with the bodywork.

There is always a certain amount of tension effect in the mountings. This never occurs simply in a straight line towards the bodywork but at quite an angle and with a certain amount of freedom of movement of the bumper towards the bodywork. In the event of a light bump, these struts can be straightened or replaced.

But watch out if it gets scratched. It then comes off much worse, compared to today's paintwork specialists. By the way, the big changeover in the way of thinking as far as bumpers are concerned, had perhaps been influenced by regulations originating from America. These regulations, which in the meantime had become a plague, had the tendency to disadvantage German- and particularly Japanese cars.

There have been unbelievable stylistic blunders made (picture 7) as a result of the regulations covering the non-deformation of the bodywork. Porsche, shown in picture 8 managed to get around the regulation quite elegantly. It's possible, that the plastic coverings appeared as a result of this.

Thereby, one does today's bumpers an injustice, one has only to point out their resilience as far as pedestrians are concerned. It is now a complete system, designed also to distribute one-sided forces over both lateral frame-rails and possibly only to the connecting strut between the two, without damaging either one. Don't forget, the insurance companies take a very close look before they determine the respective premiums to be paid.

This set-up is called a 'Crashbox' and it has to prove itself in the case a somewhat stronger impact. After all, it is now not necessarily the absolute maximum force to be transferred to the passengers that is important, but perhaps even more important, the time it takes to distribute the force. By the way, in this day and age of 'Tailored Blanks', the question of a deformable front-end is no longer in the foreground. This is mostly replaced e.g., by the two-stage air bags. 02/15

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