Early Beetle Bumper Quality


I wanted to write about the difference in quality with the 3 major types of bumper available on the market for your VW Beetle. Luckily, John Henry has already done this! His wealth of knowledge on the subject deserves a shining light. I could not agree more with his very last comment:

“If you ever find an old warehouse with a stack or two of German bumpers, guarded by an old 80-year old former VW mechanic who is willing to talk for cash… drop me an e-mail…”

I did want to point out what Wolfsburg West had to say about the bumpers they produce. You can read the full interview I did with them here. Great guys!

Tell me a little about the Wolfsburg West bumpers. How close are they to the original German units?

“This is one of our hallmark items, and one that we are very proud of. Firstly, our bumpers are pressed to the same shape and contour as the original. If you notice other aftermarket bumpers, you will find black plastic wedges placed between the bumper blade and tube. Our bumpers are made as the original German version, in that the tube mates the blade flush. Secondly, our bumpers are plated in the U.S.A. using a 5x plating regimen: 3x layers of nickel, one layer of copper and one layer of chrome. This enhances durability, and makes the chrome shine better than original.”

In summary. When you’re buying parts for your vintage VW Beetle, make sure to do your homework and get quality items. If not, you’re going to be replacing them. Trust me, I learned the hard way when I began work on my ’67.

Photo credit: Wolfsburg West

The Finishing Touches for Your Vintage Volkswagen™
The Finishing Touches for Your Vintage Volkswagen™

Eric Shoemaker

Hello, I'm Eric. I founded and curate 1967beetle.com. I also co-founded Lane Russell with my wife Amanda. I drive a '67 Beetle daily, and love to share vintage Volkswagen stories with the world.

9 Comments

Kevin Morton

about 6 years ago

So true. I learned the hard way. My first 67 Beetle was put together with low quality restoration parts. I had more problems with correct fit and look. Here's an example. I recently purchased a front hood seal for my 67. I bought the $11 dollar Brazilian hood seal. First of all, it was a nightmare to install. It also ripped in two places. The corners at the cowel didnt line up either. So finally, I payed $30 for a German one from Wolfsburg West, It literally took less than 10 minutes to install and worked out great! If I only would of waited for the German seal. Be aware of quality. It pays to do it right. Kevin '67 Beetle-Zenith Blue

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Eric

about 6 years ago

Kevin, I can't agree with you more. I too learned the hard way. The tooling on the aftermarket stuff is probably way off, and worn out. I too purchased the same seal from the good folks at Wolfsburg West. I like knowing the German stuff is going to fit as it should. Thanks for the comment! E

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James p fitzpatrick

about 5 years ago

Hello, I just bought a 1967beetle on e bay and I'm missingh my front and rear bumper override mount tubes front and rear bumpers, was looking for chrome replacements if possible, cant find them only black ones , thank you

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Eric

about 5 years ago

James, Thanks for the comment. You can only get the silver mount tubes NOS or used through The Samba. Good news however! Wolfsburg West sells the correct color silver paint for the brackets. This is by far the best way to go. http://www.wolfsburgwest.com/cart/DetailsList.cfm?ID=PAINTL91. I did this as well. Please let me know if you have more questions.

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John M. Poirier

about 2 years ago

I'm curious as to why only one company can produce replacement parts for the '67 Beetle that of the same quality as the original German parts, such as the rear bumper and the brackets of the correct color. If production costs are the issue, why wouldn't other companies spend the extra money to do it correctly and charge more to absorb those costs? Perhaps the demand for the correct parts isn't high enough to justify production and/or those companies believe that the average restorer is not so particular as to pay a higher price for a better product. For myself, I want the best parts available for my '67. I believe that most people would. What are your thoughts on this?

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Eric Shoemaker

about 2 years ago

John, In my opinion, I'd say it's the return on investment. The '67 Beetle has so many one year only parts. Being a VW business myself, I can understand the challenge. There are not that many companies in this space that truly want to produce these parts. Sure, we all have to make $, but it's also to keep these cars on the road. Not every company has this same vision. Most just want to make as much $ as possible for the least amount of $ spent. I hate to say that, but it's true. I do agree with you, and if we had no financial limitations at all, we'd be making all '67 parts. For example. There are a few parts we restore as well as make. Some, we have to sit on for 2 years to make our $ back from tooling, etc. Now apply that thinking to a larger company that makes bumpers. I doubt they would be in business if they had to sit on anything that long. This is a much larger discussion I'm sure others have opinions on. I've talked to our friends Wolfsburg West many times about this. Some parts they make and sit on for 10 year just to make a small profit. You have to have a long term business strategy to be able to handle that. Otherwise, you're not a business.

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jay salser

about 2 years ago

This is an interesting subject, John. Eric really brings home the key arguments why some companies go for the higher dollar parts and why most companies opt for parts which will bring quick returns. I've done a couple of things that require research and development--the key to producing obsolete parts. One part, which no one, but no one, produces is the rear axle oil slinger washer for '65 into 1968 Beetles and Karmann Ghias. Minimally, research was going to cost over $2K. JUST the research to determine the metallugry involved, etc. Coupled with the extremely limited market, that was enough to stop further talk about development of this necessary part. It was back-to-wrecking-yards to find used parts. This means that for a lot of parts, the interested party must have the capital, to begin with, and the knowledge about marketing, plus shear guts to want to do it! Wolfsburgwest produces the best chromed reproduction bumpers for '67 and earlier Beetles. It must have cost many thousands to tool for this, plus all that goes into the actual production, inventorying, advertising and selling. What seems to us on the buying end of things to be expensive, probably nets very little, once the change has been counted. On the other end of the scale, I reproduce a small part for which a friend and I did the research and development. It's one of those things that's beneficial but never will "make money". Lately a party began producing this same part, albeit rather a crude reproduction of it (which the seller acknowledges in his ads). It really blew me away that someone would look for a part for which someone had sweat over to produce and obviously wasn't going to make money of it--just selling it as a service to the VW public--and begin producing it himself. Why? If he was going to get into a market, why didn't he choose some other necessary part and spend time developing that part for the VW Community instead of competing for pennies. Makes no sense. So, there are two sides to this issue which I see happening. To answer your question as to why some companies produce parts which are inferior or even just the wrong color?--it's usually because some people do not want to spend much on their cars and/or don't have much to spend on them. Some customers actually are looking for the cheap end. I do a little hobby business in my retirement years. Not infrequently people tell me that they don't want the better parts--they are aiming just to have a running vehicle and "whatever" will be okay. Surprisingly, this sector of the VW Community is fairly large! Which brings us back to those companies which spend ba-jillions to reproduce parts that are faithful reproductions which will work and which will last. My hat is off to them. I actually make a point of thanking the representatives of these companies when I place an order. I recommend telling these companies how much we appreciate them. They are helping to keep our wonderful cars on the road! jay

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John M. Poirier

about 2 years ago

Thank you so much Jay and Eric for taking the time to provide me, and probably others, with what I found to be some very sound and well articulated reasons for the scarcity of quality replacement parts for our beloved old Beetles, especially the '67s. It is unfortunate to know that so many are satisfied to opt for low budget instead of high quality. It may be that some may have budgetary constraints, others may not know better, and there may be some who are now dressing these cars up on the cheap to resell for a profit to the unwitting; yes, the days of flipping beetles may be upon us. Thankfully, we have sites such as yours to become more informed and companies like Wolfsburg West to meet the needs and desires of devoted restorers! Thanks again guys!

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Eric Shoemaker

about 2 years ago

John, You've very welcome. It's sad, but you're right with the quality comment. Most are just in it to make a profit. My '67 Beetle has been in my family since day one, and I'm not in this business to rip people off. There is still good in it. Lane Russell, Wolfsburg West and others have their heads pointed in the right direction.

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