All-wheel-drive "cross-over" cars such as the were classified as multi-purpose vehicle or trucks, and thus exempt from the passenger car bumper standards.
In 1971, the US (NHTSA) issued the country's first regulation applicable to passenger car bumpers. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 215 (FMVSS 215), "Exterior Protection," took effect on 1 September 1972—when most automakers would begin producing their 1973 vehicles. The standard prohibited functional damage to specified safety-related components such as and fuel system components when the vehicle is subjected to barrier crash tests at 5 miles per hour (8 km/h) for front and 2.5 mph (4 km/h) for rear bumper systems. The requirements effectively eliminated automobile bumpers designs that featured integral components such as tail lamps.
Of course, the bumper sticker is another industry that has grown up around car bumpers. More usually it is the back bumper, rather than the front bumper that is used, but stickers are often seen on the front as well. They are usually witty in nature, or funny. Occasionally they can be political, inspirational, or designed to shock.
The first cars barely had a front bumper. Then it was discovered that cars could bump into objects and cause damage to themselves and to other objects. The front bumper was born. In the early days it was little more than a sturdy strap of iron that folded across the front of the vehicle. It was the car component in the most forward position, so it took the brunt of any impact, though it didn’t help very much usually.