*Photography by: DJ Randall and the author
It’s been twenty-seven years since the last 1987 turbocharged G-body has rolled off of the Flint assembly line, and in that time, many of the 27,590 produced that year have fallen victim to age, rust, and more commonly, deteriorating bumper fillers; you know, those flexible and flimsy plastic pieces designed to create a bridge between the actual bumper and the rest of the body.
Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, American car companies weren’t exactly at the top of their game, and utilizing a “that’ll do” approach to many components meant to hold the car together simply resulted in them falling apart much quicker. General Motors had decided to outsource the infamous OEM plastic filler pieces, and whoever was charged with engineering and manufacturing those parts did so with the apparent intent to only make them last for about 15 years.
Over the years, there have been several options you can choose from in terms of replacements. You could order either stock OEM versions (which will inevitably disintegrate in a number of years), or you can score a decent set of fiberglass filler replacements from turbo Buick specialists like Kirban Performance, among others.
Although the overall quality of most fiberglass fillers are good, there are the occasional gripes from Buick owners saying that installation isn’t always as easy as they’d like it to be, and that fitment issues potentially arise. Thanks to a very small company in Southern California, however, there’s now a third option.
Enter Spoolfool Productions, and their first entry into the turbo Regal parts realm. Started just a few years ago by ’87 GN owner, Mike Barnard, he offers his solution. “Spoolfool” as he is known on the TurboBuick.com forums, created these very unique, and very attractive-looking fiberglass fillers for the ’84-87 Buick Regal coupe. With our ’87 Grand National, Project Wicked6, our car was suffering just such a fate with its cracked fillers at all four corners.
Thanks to a combination of changing climate (from your author moving all over the country), age, and even a slight nudge in the rear bumper from an ancient Saturn sedan several years ago, our fillers were literally disintegrating right before our very eyes – so bad in fact, that there would be less of them every time we took the car for a spin. Not wanting to waste time (and money) on stock replacements, and wanting to try something a bit different, we gave Mike and the boys at Spoolfool Productions a call.
Mike and Co. do an amazing job with the production of these fillers, using a hand-laid fiberglass design, than ensures indefinite durability for years to come. They took immense measures to ensure a factory fit an finish, although Mike admits that some cars might need an additional amount of finesse when installing these, since not every Regal left the assembly line with spot-on dimensions. However, he’s countered that with a notch that allows flexibility so it should line up with the headlight bezel and grille perfectly. There might be some variations thanks to your particular body panel alignment or the age/quality of your headlight bezel.
The fillers arrived at our door in a gloss black gel-coat finish, and although you could technically install them as-is (if you own a GN, GNX, or a black Regal), Mike usually recommends painting them prior to installation, as they could vary slightly from the paint finish of your car. We did such a thing, and called up our buddy Aldrin at ARE Motorsports in Tampa, Florida for such an endeavor.
Actually, we did one better, because although the focus of this story revolves around the Spoolfool fillers, our bumpers had a few scratches, stone chips, and specs of rust bleeding through the 1997 respray. Plus, with the previously mentioned “nudge” from the Saturn, our rear bumper was slightly pushed-in on the left side of the car, meaning that the bumper shock on the driver’s side was now junk.
We took this as an opportunity to replace them, and it only made sense to install the Kirban bumper brackets, as they offered OEM mounting locations, a 10-lb. drop off of the weight of the car, and unlike the ones installed from the factor on our car, won’t rust with age.
Fresh impact strip bumper cushions on would also get installed on both bumpers since they were both marred with imperfections as well. While we could have easily just ditched them altogether, and filled the holes, in, we prefer to keep the car looking as stock as possible. The front would get a NOS GM piece that has been in our personal inventory since 1991, and the rear would come in the form of a reproduction replacement from our buddy, Pete Hoffman, at Kirban Performance. So follow along as we show you how we gave our car a refresh.
Rick Seitz is the owner and founder of AutoCentric Media, and has a true love and passion for all vehicles; GM, Ford, Dodge, imports, trucks — you name it! When he isn’t clacking away on his keyboard, he’s building, tuning, driving or testing his current crop of personal projects!