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Body... Talk & Q&A Top Chop, Channel & General Body Q&A

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Old 08-12-2019, 06:51 PM
BigR BigR is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Prescott, AZ
Posts: 15
Default How to unbend aluminum bumper

Hi All,

Looking for bumper options for my 544 Volvo "lead sled". The original ones are old, dented, and too big, especially with the overiders. So far I have tried on Morris Minor front and rear and old (non BMW) Mini bumpers, that were donated to me. They weren't right.

Here is the look I'm going for, see pics. Not my Volvo. The blurb on the car pictured said that the bumpers were VW items that he straightened and adjusted for fit. You can see how much of a curve they have from the pic of the Bug. I can get the VW billet aluminum bumpers from a number of places for about a hundred apiece.

The Briz ribbed aluminum ones look good to me but of course they would be expensive. Also I need to know how the bumper looks on the car, and make adjustments as needed.

Here's my question: How do I take the center arc out of the billet aluminum VW bumpers? The Bug front and rear is curved, while the Volvo has more of a flat face and tail. There must be a way using weight, a floor jack, winch, etc. to take part of the curve out. I'm counting on them to be sort of flimsy anyway. Probably would get bent easily in a parking lot encounter.

Naturally using heat is out of the question, can't control it that well, and aluminum melts instead of glows when it gets too hot.

Looking for a rat rod low buck fix, not interested in the "Take it to so and so's shop, they are experts" answers. This is MY build. Easy to throw money at a problem, not my style. I wanna do it in my garage; the fun is in figgerin' out and fixin' the problem. This is a cut and try operation. I have lots of patience. If I mess it up, then I've learned something.

John in Prescott.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg RIBBED BUMPERS- 2.jpg (40.0 KB, 22 views)
File Type: jpg RIBBED BUMPERS-1.jpg (44.6 KB, 20 views)
File Type: jpg bumper vw bug.jpg (61.3 KB, 22 views)
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Old 08-12-2019, 07:24 PM
kenny c kenny c is offline
Rusty Rat Rodder
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: West Greenwich R.I.
Posts: 2,936

Haven't worked with them but you could try putting them in a press and working them a little at a time. If you don't need the ribs a set of 40 ford bumpers may do. They are steel and you could paint them any color you like.
Tetanus Tornado 49 F6
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Old 08-12-2019, 07:52 PM
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Sam_Fear Sam_Fear is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Dixon, IA
Posts: 12,435

"take it to a shop." BAH! You won't hear that around here to often.

Rolling it might work? But I'd be afraid it would mar the surface. Maybe a wooden jig to press it into shape? Most anything else seems like it would run the risk of bending in one spot.
Not so current build - '29 A Rats-N-Rice. Drivers! - '48 Olds '63 F100. Pile of parts - '30 Tudor.
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Old 08-12-2019, 10:10 PM
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Dr Crankenstein Dr Crankenstein is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: SK CAN
Posts: 6,548

Just a semi-educated thought or three...

It depends a lot on what the bumper is actually made of. ("Billet" doesn't tell you the alloy or grade of the material.)

At $100 each, I suspect they're rolled from a relatively light, soft alloy extrusion. (If that's the case, you can probably bend it over your knee.)

"Harder" alloys require heavier equipment to form. (You're not likely to bend a heavy 6061 or 6063 piece at home without cracking it.)

Anyhow, I wouldn't be afraid to mess with the $100 bumpers. I'll bet they'll bend easy as a coat hanger...

- The distinction between psychological illness and creative thinking is wafer thin -

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Last edited by Dr Crankenstein; 08-12-2019 at 10:22 PM.
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Old 08-12-2019, 10:16 PM
anvil anvil is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: wet side washington
Posts: 364

The way to tell if the temperature is right for forging aluminum. A pice of hard wood slips. Yes it melts before color.
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Old 08-13-2019, 01:34 AM
BigR BigR is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Prescott, AZ
Posts: 15

Well, if I was still in Kalifornia I could probably find a "Cal Look" VW Bug with these bumpers on it. That way one could find out how easy it would be to bend the extruded metal. This would require, of course, someone to distract the owner while the experiment was taking place. I doubt they are made of some strong alloy.

John in Prescott
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