The parts need some massaging

March 1, 2010 | By Richard Prince


The vinyl fillers between the rear bumper and body have cracked on the 1978 Buick Skylark which I have owned since new. I ordered replacements from Replica Plastics of Dotham, Alabama. Upon arrival of the parts it was obvious that they were not correct and could not be modified to fit. They did refund my money after I returned the parts.

This filler is used exclusively on the 1975-79 Buick Apollo and Skylark, and it has been stated that Replica Plastics is the only company making these reproductions. Someone should be manufacturing exact reproductions for this era of several cars that are noted for having broken bumper fillers. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.


Replica Plastics ( is the only source for new reproduction rear bumper filler pieces for your 1978 Skylark. After reading your letter I did some research to determine whether there were significant design changes for the filler piece during model year 1978 and as far as I could determine there were not. Normally, a significant design change would necessitate a different part number but I could find no reference to more than one part number for the filler panels.

I called Replica Plastics and spoke with the owner about your situation. Based on his long experience (he’s been doing body, paint, general repair and restoration work continuously since 1957) he believes that his reproduction is correct for your car. He said, however, that because of a seemingly endless array of variations from one car to the next these parts very rarely fall into place and fit perfectly right out of the box. Most of the time the installer needs to make adjustments to the car and/or the part to get an excellent fit.

After many years in the restoration business and the hobby as well, I can say from my own experience that most body and trim parts need some massaging to get a nice fit.

So, choice one is to give Replica Plastics another try and have a good body guy do the installation. You state, “Someone should be manufacturing exact reproductions for this era of several cars that are noted for having broken bumper fillers.” The unfortunate reality is that the filler pieces for your car, like nearly every other part of your car, are not available from multiple sources. If you had a Mustang, Camaro, Corvette or tri-five Chevy you could get just about anything you need from several different manufacturers. But when it comes to the vast array of vehicles ever made, reproduction parts are few and far between. The harsh reality is that 1978 Skylarks are not nearly as popular with collectors and that seriously diminishes the financial incentive for people to invest in the manufacture of repro parts.

If you disagree, and think that there are enough 1975-79 Buick Apollo and Skylark owners who will buy them, then choice two is for you to invest in reproducing correct filler pieces.