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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
While my Esprit was in very good condition when I got it, I am working on small projects to bring it to as-new condition mechanically and cosmetically. I have 80 items on my to-do list, and after 2 months, I am through over 50 of them.

One that I am not sure should be on my list, is to adjust the alignment of the front bumper. I have noticed on many V8 Esprits that a small gap develops in one or both sides between the bumper and the body in the corner.

I have read what a biatch it is to get the front bumper off and back on, so I am wondering if I should quit while I'm ahead.

Has anyone addressed this gap before? Is it even fixable as an alignment adjustment, or would it require a bumper replacement due to the plastic deforming over time.

I don't even want to start taking it apart if someone already knows that it won't get better without changing the bumper -- that falls squarely in the too-much-trouble-for-the-benefit basket.

Below is the side with the problem. The right side is perfect.

Thanks!
 

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The front bumpers on the redesigned Esprits (S4 and on)seem to develop gaps and waves much more easily than the earlier Stevens cars.
The material is sturdy and hard to break but it is quite flexible.
The front bumper has a large foam insert designed in part to fill it out. The insert does not appear to be substantial enough to prevent the development of the wavy appearance.
The gap may be due to this issue or that the fasteners are a little loose or have been bent from minor impact or even someone sitting on the bumper.

We just made a repair of these issues on an S4. It isn't hard it is a PIA. You might just be able to tighten the fasteners. There are nuts attached to studs on the fiberglass flange, there are backing strips that are a little flimsy They are hard to reach. Otherwise anything more would require the removal of the whole front bumper assembly. Not hard but a lot of work.

Randy
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Thanks 89.5!

On my SE, the bumpers were entirely fiberglass while the S4/V8 are the more typical plastic bumpers found on just about any car these days. The all-fiberglass definitely has the downside of cracking on the slightest impact, so it's a trade off.

I want to check those nuts that you mentioned in the studs of the fiberglass body. How do I get access to them?

One thing I noticed is that if I try to lift the bumper up, it won't budge even a little bit. So it seems like other bolts would have to be loosened to allow the adjustment as opposed to just tightening the top bolts.
 

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On the SE the bumper is also ABS, but it appears the square shape and perhaps the foam insert help it to hold it's shape better.

The lower air dam that forms the radiator intake is fiberglas.

The bumper bolts to the fiberglass body lip at the separation you note. The nuts are right at the front edge. They are accessed from the top inside the front hood area. Access to some of the nuts is quite tight because of the ABS system and the AC system components mounted up front.

To get the bumper off you have to pull the air dam and all the associated pieces. You do not have to disturb the radiators.
 

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Wingless Wonder
1988 Esprit Turbo
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Is it possible the imperfection is in the body, not the bumper cover?

The area just above the bumper is the seam where the top and bottom halves of the body were joined. IIRC this was bonded, filled, and "fettled" by hand at the factory.

Seems only natural to me that this would not be a perfect seam.


+++++++++++++

After you are done with that, do you intend to try to align the rear edges of the doors with the leading edges of the rear quarter panel? At LOG 23 we noted that almost 75% of the Stevens Esprits' doors were proud of the rear bodywork.

:panic:


Sorry If I'm keeping you awake at night... :tadts: :sad:
 

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Often in taking off and putting on the front bumper the corner attachments may get short attention - these are the two make studs which are accessed under the car and through the front edge of the foam inserts. It requires a long extension to get to them. It looks like your "droop" is right at that attachment point. Two things seem possible in my view:

1. The last person to work on the front did not put the nut on the stud and therefore the corner radius is unsupported. You can check this by looking with a flashlight.

2. Because these are not so easy to see they can get bent by someone trying to force off the bumper unit before they realize there is still another fastener to go. If it gets bent it may either be difficult to get the nut started on the shaft come re-assembly time. Also if may be that the force has extruded or "bumped" the metal reinforcement piece which anchors the stud.

If the nut is missing, replace it and see if this will pull the lower unit up nice and snug to the upper body line. Or, if it has been pulled out of alignment you can remove the bumper, retrieve the metal strip from the leading edge of the front compartment and replace or straighten it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I doubt the body is warped for the reason you mentioned. It was "fettled" at the factory. So I doubt they would have shipped the car with this gap. And that fiberglass isn't likely to bend out shape.

The doors seem good on my car.

Is it possible the imperfection is in the body, not the bumper cover?

The area just above the bumper is the seam where the top and bottom halves of the body were joined. IIRC this was bonded, filled, and "fettled" by hand at the factory.

Seems only natural to me that this would not be a perfect seam.


+++++++++++++

After you are done with that, do you intend to try to align the rear edges of the doors with the leading edges of the rear quarter panel? At LOG 23 we noted that almost 75% of the Stevens Esprits' doors were proud of the rear bodywork.

:panic:


Sorry If I'm keeping you awake at night... :tadts: :sad:
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Does anyone have pictures of the car in pieces that would show what is being described below? I have looked around and under the bumper and tried to look inside the front trunk, and I can't see where these bolts are on the corner. I can see the bolts in the middle, but the corner attachments are elusive to me.


Often in taking off and putting on the front bumper the corner attachments may get short attention - these are the two make studs which are accessed under the car and through the front edge of the foam inserts. It requires a long extension to get to them. It looks like your "droop" is right at that attachment point. Two things seem possible in my view:

1. The last person to work on the front did not put the nut on the stud and therefore the corner radius is unsupported. You can check this by looking with a flashlight.

2. Because these are not so easy to see they can get bent by someone trying to force off the bumper unit before they realize there is still another fastener to go. If it gets bent it may either be difficult to get the nut started on the shaft come re-assembly time. Also if may be that the force has extruded or "bumped" the metal reinforcement piece which anchors the stud.

If the nut is missing, replace it and see if this will pull the lower unit up nice and snug to the upper body line. Or, if it has been pulled out of alignment you can remove the bumper, retrieve the metal strip from the leading edge of the front compartment and replace or straighten it.
 

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The bumper is ABS. Fiberglass does not sag - it cracks. The sag you see is coming from the lower unit. That unit is ABS. The reason Lotus uses metal strips in all the fiberglass/ABS joints is to prevent the sag you are seeing in the joint.
 

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Here are some pictures. Two pictures of the front bumper assembly with an arrow pointing to the hole in the upper edge where the stud (which is on the main fiberglass body structure) will articulate with the bumper. The arrows point to the location on both sides of the bumper unit. The picture of the front (with the bumper removed) has an arrow which shows the location of the stud which will mate to the hole in the bumper. Once the bumper is in place a washer and nut is tightened over the stud and draws the bumper up to and flush with the fiberglass body unit.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks Tom!

So it sounds like on my 2 piece V8 bumper that I would have to remove the lower valence before I could see or get to these bolts?
 

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I can't tell you that as I have never taken apart a V8 body. But if you can't see the stud and nut when looking up with a flashlight I would guess you may have to remove something. I have always relied on the parts manual, which has great exploded drawings, to figure out how things are fastened when it wasn't obvious to me. If you have a copy of the V8 parts manual take a look at the illustration for the front bumper and attaching hardware. That should be sufficient for you to figure out how to access the various attaching hardware.
 

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Wingless Wonder
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I can't tell you that as I have never taken apart a V8 body.
I know that newer Esprits have covers under the bumper "corners" (where Tom's red factory air horns reside). Inside that are the fog lamps and mounts. These are the S4 and newer cars, with the thin turn signal lenses.
 

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It might help to tighten the mounting bolts but I wouldn't count on it unless the bumper has been off before and then wasn't secured again properly.

I think to solve the problem you'd need to disassemble the lower valance and bumper and fabricate a new stud plate to fit at the corner. The problem is there is no mounting bolt right at the corner but a few inches either side of it so over time the bumper sags there.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
That sounds like the only good solution to me right now. Thanks!

A project that big to solve that small of a problem will probably have to wait until something else goes wrong that I need to remove the bumper.
 

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Jim's suggestion is an excellent one. We recently had to do this on an S4 we are refurbishing. The front driver's side had a low-speed impact of some sort. When we removed the front valence and bumper to do some paint work the impact was enough to have actually torn the ABS material right at the stud hole at the radius. Furthermore it had bent the studs slightly aft along the driver's side of the bumper, and in two spots the studs (the ones mounted in the bumper) had been pulled/stressed resulting in "bumps" at the base of the studs and thus gaps in the seam. The solution was to fabricate new "straight plates" for the bumper and studs mounted on that side as well as a little grinding to eliminated the "bumps" from the stretched ABS. We also made a curved corner bracket and drilled it to receive the body-mounted stud for the radius corner. It sounds like a lot of work but it is not as much as appears to be the case. And it will make the seam factory-new.
 
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