The Chrome Bumper era began fading out around 1980 when manufacturers cottoned onto the idea that piles of money could be saved if the expensive chrome plated front and rear bumper bars on their cars were replaced with ones made from recycled ice-cream buckets from the staff canteen. By making bumpers flimsy, sacrificial items that could be damaged in a head-on with an overweight bumble bee , the Replacement Parts Department suddenly became the goose that laid the golden egg; panel shops, paint suppliers and insurance companies shared in the windfall whilst some drivers had to re-learn their parking techniques.
Cars were simpler back then – not only did we have functional bumper bars, but headlights were round (either a pair of 7” or a brace of 5”) and they could be purchased at your local service station for the price of a stamp! It was also, many believe, an era of form following function and the birth of many iconic designs.
Lardner Park’s annual ‘Last of the Chrome Bumpers’ event is steadily becoming what must be one of the biggest and most impressive classic car shows in the State. Hundreds of vehicles from all eras -except plastic bumpers, flood into the site and park in neat, tidy rows on the lush green glass. There are military vehicles, hot rods, caravans, stationary engines, motor bikes, trucks, tractors, sports cars, competition vehicles and family cars. Inside the pavilion are purveyors of automobilia, and at the other end of the massive site there are the swap-meet stalls selling everything from trinkets to tungsten-tipped tools.
The Sporting Register was well represented on the day with members’ cars and trucks scattered throughout the venue. Of special interest was the debut of Richard Rowley’s recently imported Studebaker Hawk coupe and the incredible range of Mustangs which were there to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Marque. Over the years there has been a pleasing increase in the number of English and European classics on display, but by far the majority of vehicles are still either home-grown or American. This year there were several Japanese classics amongst the gathering – a very tidy 240Z, as well as a somewhat unexpected Datsun 180B. But then again, it’s the variety of vehicles and this type of unpredictability that makes the ‘Last of the Chrome Bumpers’ such an interesting and enjoyable event to be part of .
PLEASE NOTE – Your correspondent will be interstate next Sunday and therefore unable to attend the Sporting Register’s monthly Breakfast Club gathering in Warragul. I’m hoping that given this much lead-time, somebody attending this event might be able to take some photos of the assemblage and send them to me with a few sentences that could be published on our website and in the next edition of IDLE CHATTER.
Your contribution would be greatly appreciated.
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