I Miss The Little Fangs On Old Truck Bumpers

I Miss The Little Fangs On Old Truck Bumpers

Bumpers are not really bumpers anymore because they no longer offer much protection. They used to be plain, protective parts fixed to the front and rear of a vehicle, but bumpers have been integrated into car design for years now, if not decades. Not only has this made bumpers suck at their job, but it’s also killed off interesting bumper designs, such as those of classic Chevy trucks and SUVs that resembled little fangs, also known as bumper guards.

I miss these bumper fangs, which made Chevy and GMC trucks look charming, almost as if they had an underbite — like a loyal but goofy-looking dog. Indeed, a truck owner’s best friend. More than any other vehicle type, trucks have held on to functional bumpers, with some modern trucks retaining that wonderful chrome finish. But even pickups have lost cool features like the bumper fangs, or guards, which were common for GM models until the late ’90s.

Photo: GMC

General Motors and others officially call them “bumper guards,” which sounds redundant since the bumper itself would guard the body of a vehicle from hits. When I reached out to GMC for information on so-called bumper fangs, here’s what a spokesperson had to say:

After doing a little digging in the archives and double checking with our product information specialists, we can confirm that the black “fangs” found on the front of many Chevrolet and GMC trucks and SUVs in the 1980s are an option called ‘bumper guards.’ Bumper guards are functional, they stand out from the bumper to protect it.

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The optional bumper guards go back to pickups like the Chevy C-10 and C-20, as well as earlier Apache trucks. They were common on many other vehicles, including Dodge Rams and classic Chevy sedans like the Bel-Air and early Corvette models. The Ford F-150 and Bronco also had them at one point, and, later, Ford’s Panther platform vehicles, including the Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car also bore the bumper guards.

Image for article titled I Miss The Little Fangs On Old Truck Bumpers

Photo: Chevrolet

These guards evolved over time, going from chrome nubs to longer appendages that looked like the black fangs I described, then finally coming to the end as shorter, blocky appendages mostly made of black plastic. By then, they had lost their flourish, dispensing with the chrome construction, although it’s easy to see how useful the black bumper guards would be at soaking up low-speed impacts.

The last trucks I could find wearing bumper guards were GMT400 models, like the Chevy C/K Series and GMC Sierra. The bumper guards reached their peak with the second-gen K5 Blazer and Jimmy, but they looked rad on most models regardless of generation.

It’s too bad they’re gone, becoming another casualty of streamlined design, which is somewhat of a misnomer since GM truck designers threw streamlined looks out the window not too long ago. If trucks are going to be overwrought behemoths, at least make them practical again with things like bumper guards.

Image for article titled I Miss The Little Fangs On Old Truck Bumpers

Photo: Chevrolet

Image for article titled I Miss The Little Fangs On Old Truck Bumpers

Photo: Ford

Image for article titled I Miss The Little Fangs On Old Truck Bumpers

Photo: Dodge