Friday, June 28, 2019

1975-1979 C3 Corvette Rear Bumper Cover Removal

Although some of the steps and/or fasteners may differ between model years, the procedure is pretty much the same for rubber-bumper C3s, which may also apply to models all the way up to 1982.

The procedure is not difficult, per se, but it is challenging, and you may end up with a bunch of little cuts thanks to the tight spaces behind the bumper. If nothing else, you'll skin your knuckles. I was going to wear gloves but, again, space is at a premium, and in some cases, you have to work by feel, something that's hard, if not impossible to do while wearing gloves.

The good news is that you will not need a lift to do this job. I had lifted my car with the QuickJack but it made things worse as I was unable to comfortably reach the nuts on the top edge.

The bumper cover is held securely in place by eighteen nuts that sandwich the skin to the body via retainer strips with studs attached to them.

You will need a 3/8" deep-well socket, a small ratchet (1/4" will work best for this job), and a box-end wrench, ideally a ratcheting one.

It took me roughly one hour to remove all the nuts and there was no way to spray anything on the studs at the top edge in order to make this task easier.

I was fortunate that all eighteen came out without much of a fight, although after 40+ years the exposed stud threads had enough surface rust which slowed down the process.

Since my car has aftermarket bubble taillights, I had to remove them. Not sure if that would be necessary if your Corvette has factory taillights. Also, you will need to unplug the bulbs from behind to gain a bit more room and to remove the bumper skin assembly.

The license plate light will have to be removed or at least unplugged. Since I want to clean and repaint the assembly, and also clean the screws and washers, I chose the former.

And speaking of license plates...

You will need to remove the license plate to gain access to the three bolts that secure the bottom center of the cover to the bumper itself.

When all of the above steps are complete, you can carefully start separating the bumper cover from the body.

As a side observation, notice how rough and dull the paint is in this area. Not sure why they didn't pay better attention when the car was repainted, so I'm assuming it was a budget job. Strange though, because from the old Polaroids® the previous owner gave me, they did remove the doors to paint the door jambs.

Additional proof of the color-change repaint as you can see the original Metallic Silver paint on the body flange, which shows that whoever painted the car chose to do so with the cover in place.

Once the cover is off of the car, you can set it in a safe area to protect the paint. And even though mine will be repainted, I still exercised caution to avoid additional damage.

The three photos below show the dirt accumulated over four decades. Needless to say, I detailed the whole area and brushed Loctite's Rust Neutralizer wherever I saw surface rust. This product turns rust into a black, paintable surface. I will not paint mine, but neutralizing the rust ensures a longer life for the treated metal.

I am working on another post covering the complete detailing procedure of the rear bumper area that hides behind the bumper cover, so stay tuned for that article.

Thank you for following my '76 Vette Blog!

Product Links... (#sponsored)

Corvette Bubble Taillight Conversion Kit

1976 Corvette Service Manual
1976 Corvette Assembly Manual
Loctite Extend Rust Neutralizer
Rust-Oleum Rubberized Undercoating
Red Auto-Mechanic Shop Towels
How to Restore Your Corvette: 68-82
1968-1982 Corvette Restoration Guide


  1. Getting to the top studs and nuts looks like a tight fit; how do you get access?

  2. There's just enough room in that area for one hand and a small wrench. If the flange studs and nuts are rusted, spraying them with PB Blaster is recommended.

  3. I’ve just spent the afternoon mud wrestling with the rear bumper cover. I'm not complaining. I knew the job was dangerous when I took it. This procedure is not for the feint-of-heart. One must be committed. One must be patient. One must be prepared for creative socketing. A very small power wrench would be worth investing in. It helps to be somewhat nuts about one’s Corvette. The very important tip in the article bears repeating. Do not jack your car up to do this unless you have arms like an orangutan.

    The two screws at the top can also be accessed through the flip-up gas cap cover door hole, if door & frame are removed. I’m tearing the car down to bare bones so I removed all the gasoline & removed the tank sending unit assembly as well. There’s room to get at those two while standing.


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