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"People ask me how I do research for my science fiction. The answer is, I never do any research. I just enjoy reading the stuff, and some of it sticks in my mind and fits into the stories."
- Frederik Pohl

Pneumatic Bumpers  
  An inflatable bumper system for ground-based motor vehicles.  

On the satellite of the tenth planet, gravity is double that of the Earth. Automobiles can hold the road much better and the natives drive like maniacs. They need really good bumpers.

Terruns stabbed viciously at a red button on the panel that formed the front of the car. Something in the box at the rear muttered faintly, and began throbbing furiously. Rapidly, from the sides, a pinkish mass protruded, until inside of ten seconds a pneumatic bumper fully two feet thick had pushed out all about, front, side and rear.
From The Brain Pirates, by John W. Campbell.
Published by Thrilling Wonder Stories in 1938
Additional resources -

In the 1930's, bumpers on cars were made of heavy steel; a variety of after-market products were also available at that time to add protection to a vehicle.

I found a patent filing for a "bumper-like member for a vehicle that surrounds the vehicle is formed of a closed flexible, hollow container with a tube or bladder filled with compressed air." Obviously, this guy is about fifty years too late.

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