so Ive been asked a few times recently to explain how I turned my NA bumpers into 'almost' Euro bumpers by shortening them and some modifications to the bumper brackets. In this DIY, you will see how I did it.
The issue: the NA bumpers are too big. I like to call them "clown shoes" since they look just as ridiculous. The problem with Euro bumpers is they cost too much, and leave the car looking infinished due to the holes left by the scirocco body kit. so if you are going to have to modify the body to make them look good, then you may as well save your money and modify your stock bumpers whiile you are at it.
first things first, you will need NA bumpers with the metal brackets. this diy doesnt cover the hydraulic piston type brackets, so if you dont have a set of these, then source one.
step one: remove the bumpers
four bolts hold each of the bumpers on the rocco. on the front these are accessed from the engine bay, and by removing the front grill. on the rear the bolts are accessed from inside the trunk.
the brackets are the parts that bolt the bumper to the car. the rebar is the metal bar that runs the length of the bumper and hods the plastic skin to the brackets.
once you have the bumpers off the car, you remove the skin by pulling out all the "clips" and a screw on either end.
with the skin removed unbolt the brackets from the rebar.
on the front, first hack off the tow hooks, and then reinstall the brackets on oposite sides of the car. (right side bracket goes on the left, and vice versa) Now hack some of the end of the brackets - enough so you can put the rebar back on them and position it so the rebar is .75" from the body. be sure it is straight right to left, and tack it in place. Check the alignment side to side as well as vertical angle before you fully weld the rebar into place.
Now you will need to cut the skins to shorten them.
BEFORE YOU CUT, REMOVE THE TRIM PIECE! (obviously) no sense having to cut and weld this, when you can just shorten it on the ends. be careful removing this because its old and can snap.
now measure and cut 2.25 inches off the sides of the front skin. (and 2.5 from the rear) we used masking tape to ensure out cuts were just right.
now we had to plastic weld them back together.
tip when plastic welding: use a very powerful iron or hot knife. add tons of extra plastic that you can chop up from the bits of plastic you cut off the bumper. try not to introduce air bubbles and take your time. Ventilation helps here too. heh.
to reinforce the joint, I used part of the inner bumper skin and welded it in place. the result is a very strong bond that will not crack and should be undetectable when the car is finished.
is this any better?
before they were plastic welded on, we had to do a bit of shaping to them to get them to fit right in there new location. the ends of the bumpers were intended to be held in place by brackets and they pushed n the body when they were in there new home. we ground them down and shaped them to fit without rubbing on the body, and that cured the "saggy bumper" issue some people with pulled bumpers have complained about.
once you have the skin welded and shaped, you will want to attach it to the rebar. to do this you will need to drill several holes through the rebar in various placed along the length, on top and bottom. you can also use a bunch of eurethane to glue them together, but screws are smarter. just be sure your screws arent so long that they come straight out the other side of the bumper. use 10-14 screws on each bumper.
note: dont skimp here. I had to take my bumpers off and screw them back on because we thought "just a couple" screws would be enough.
OK, so the rear bumper is slightly different. on here you are going to flip over the rebar as well as the brackets. the rebar is offset vertically quite a bit, so flipping it over makes the bumper sit a lot higher up. - closing the gap that is left by the trim piece being removed. otherwise the operation is the same as the front.
since a picture is worth a thousand words, I will draw a diagram.
look closely to see how the brackets are angled slightly, and how flipping them over lifts the bumper up. by about 3/4".
Phase TWO: Body holes
OK so now that we have the bumpers shortened and raised with the tow hooks removed, we now have presented ourselves with new problems. The scirocco has these really ugly tow hook holes in the front and rear valences, as well as holes on the sides where the hold bumpers used to sit.
in this pic I have drawn a line where the bottom of the bumper sits, so you can see how much of the hole is exposed when looking at the car from behind.
you cannot plastic weld the body panels because they are made of a different kind of plastic. the kind that disolves when you get it hot. the bumpers are made of TEO, which takes well to plastic welding.
so I used some cardboard and some 3m flexible plastic parts repairer.
it was espensive, and in retrospect I think bondo would have been just fine since the part doesnt flex once installed.
next up, the rear side
notice the big hole
in this picture you can see how much of this ugliness shows up when you raise and tuck your NA bumpers.
you will want to fill this in with bondo. I used some of the flexible part repairer on one side and bondo on the other when I ran out. the bondo worked even better here than the expensive stuff. *lol*
skipping ahead, here it is all done
last step, paint and trim.
once you have your skin all welded up and smooth, you are going to need to paint them, as well as your valences and the rear fender skirts. (since I dont know the first thing about painting, you are on your own here.) as for the trim, once you have a couple more coats of paint and clear on these bumpers, you are going to have trouble getting the trim back in so here is what you do:
the side profile of this molding strip looks like the image on the left. the fork holds onto the bumper keeping it in place. the problem is that with the extra paint this old molding cant squeeze into place, so we fix that by cutting off one side of the fork. reducing the amount of space it takes up in the groove.
once you have cut that off the entire length of the molding, trim each end down by 2.25 or 2.5 inches front or back, and then reinstall it. I used a block of wood and a hammer to pound it into place. I actually did the trimming on one side, installed it, and then trimmed off the excess.
here is another shot from the rear, showing the filled holes and lifted bumper
and there you have it. NA bumpers that look like euros and cost you nothing more than the paint.
Modified by JonnyPhenomenon at 2:38 PM 1-10-2010
ahhh that would work. i think id probably weld them back on the other sides now that i think about it. or cut out some new ones and weld them on.... too bad i dont have a welder right now...
great info tho. very detailed. great pics, dare i say put it in the FAQ list?
Thanks a million man I haggle with this for about 9 hours yesterday and running in all kind of issues, now that the flip is clarified I think I should have everything set. Once again thanks a million.
Let me just say, this is great!
I understand that this could also be done with the piston type mounts by drilling, compressing, cutting and welding.
Anyone know how much was taken off the mounts? From the pics, I'd guess ~2". (front)
A little too late for the pics as I get started and don't take a break. I would; however, like to hijack your thread and add some extra points that could make this a little easier for the next people who take this on.
The rear braces need to be shortened ~1".
The front braces need to be shortened ~1.75"
I'm currently in the process of removing the under light trim from the valance that originally fit on top of the front bumper. (the 2-piece trim that filled the body/bumper gap) I'll weld that to the upper cover to fill the gap left in the upper corners. It probably wouldn't be needed with US turns but I can see straight to the ground with the Euros and their curved bottoms.
I'll explain later with pics.
lets see if this shows in enough detail.
I should also state that we could probably all agree that most 20+ year-old vehicles are NOT going to be factory straight. I know for a fact that this car has had minor front and rear damage prior to my ownership and very little was properly repaired. I thought about how I could do this same mod for a friend of mine but quickly realized, I would need HIS car for mock up to get everything properly aligned.
In short, you can see the gap below the turn signals? Cutting that little lip off the top of the "bumper gap cover" and welding it into place seems to have taken care of my issue. I have it welded into place now (not like in the pic) but weather kept me from finishing it off today. Keep you fingers crossed for me tomorrow!
EDIT: You can also see where the bumper meets the body to the left? That alignment was my gauge for the overall bracket cuts.
Last edited by OneSixV; 08-22-2010 at 12:05 AM.
oooh.. I see now....
well up till a week ago, I had NA turns. I finaly got a decent set of euro turns and polished when up a while back, and finally got around to installing them the other day. I had not noticed the little gap at the bottom there. my bumpers really are wedged right up in there tho so the gap is very slight.
here are some pics of mine... I wouldnt have noticed it if you hadnt pointed it out. p.s. thanks alot jerk!
OK, I got a little "artsy" but here is the finished product.
and here, in the inset you can see the added material under the turn signal.
I gave thanks to you and added a link to this from my crummy little page.
Last edited by OneSixV; 08-31-2010 at 01:05 AM.
Looks great man! I am so happy to see another texer shortening NA bumpers using my method. it really looks friggin fantastic on these cars, and I would even go so far as to say that it looks even better than euro bumpers, but I will probably have to duck from the fruit about to be thrown at me.
I like how your attention to detail took care of the little gaps under the euro turns, judging from your finished product, Im guessing it looks factory too.
and one thing that makes me grin is how it looks like your rear bumper is a little crooked... just like MINE was
its hard to get that to mount up straight the first time you put it on. mine is still not perfect, but its better than it was.
I attributed my crooked bumper to the damage from before I owned the car. I tacked the drivers side in place and then used a 3' pry bar to tweak the other side as I tacked it into place. I put the cover on and everything was perfect. I removed the entire rear assembly (unbolted) and added some screws from the back side then reinstalled. NO AMOUNT OF ADJUSTMENT WOULD STRAIGHTEN THAT BUMPER!
I gave up and it is what it is...a race car.
I'm about to jump into this, but I had a question regarding plastic welders.
Do you have a recommendation as far as air or airless, type of rod used (guess there's plenty of donor material from the removed chunk of bumper skin anyway though).
And lastly would there be anyway to keep the oem textured finish intact or am I best off smoothing the entire bumper?
Here's the HF ones I'm looking at
http://www.harborfreight.com/plastic...ure-96464.html (yes I have a compressor)
"If I had all the money I've spent on cars, I'd spend it on cars"
Multi-Era Foreign and Domestic Afficionado
I did it with a combo of welders. I have a heat-gun style I bought YEARS ago and I went through 5-6 soldering iron type. Exactly like the first one you have listed from HF. They kept breaking because I'm such a brute!
I cut the strips from the discarded bumper bits once I wire wheeled the original paint off.
The heat gun was used after I tacked a few spots with the iron and I really needed the strength of a uniform weld. The heat gun gets the surrounding area up to temp and I feel that bonds everything a little better. Once that was done, the iron went back to work on the finer filling details.
Expect to lose ALL texture around the welds and the heat gun will slightly alter the texture it comes in close proximity to. There is a spray product that "fixes" lost texture. SEM 39853
It's not exact but it may do the trick.
EDIT: Looks like my old heat gun welder was replaced by this less expensive model.
...a very handy tool to have around. You can heat shrink an entire wiring harness in no time!
Last edited by OneSixV; 02-18-2011 at 03:01 AM.
Onesix, thanks for your contribution to this DIY. as you mentioned that the texture of the bumper will indeed be erased around the weld area. I didnt like the texture so I smoothed the entire bumpers out. now they are glossy smooth throughout.