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The Last Good Gremlin
06 XLR-V and 96 Eldorado ESC-V -- One day ;)
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2,654 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
O.K. I know it's been awhile since I promised to start a new thread about how to make your own V-grille for 96-2002 Eldorado. First, I specify those years because I have a 96 and after some research found out the grille is quite different on the 92-95s. On the 96 and newer the Center section is removable via 6 snap-in tabs. The pre-96 models have a one piece grille which requires cutting out the center and then creating your own reinforcing for the surround. I had considered doing this because those years had chrome surrounds on some models and that's the look I wanted as opposed to the body color surround that came with my car.

With that as the background, the actual build for my car wasn't that bad.

Parts: Existing 96-2002 grille surround and insert
CTS-V grille
6 stainless steel screws, nuts, & washers

Tools: handheld hydraulic cutting wheel
Large vise
(2) 24" 2x4
rubber mallet
hammer
Screwdriver
Socket Wrench
Open-End Wrench
Electric Sander

The original grille is easily removed by removing the eight bolts (6 along the top, two on arms) inside the surround. Before pulling the grille off the hood, disconnect the hood latch handle. When removing the grille, be careful not to drag the threads on the holes in the hood. Once the complete assembly is off the car, use the screwdriver to unseat the 8 tabs holding the insert in place.

Not unlike LBWD's drawing of the comparison for the two STS grilles, the shapes of the CTS vs Eldo are different enough to require reshaping at least 75% of the grille for it to fit in the Eldo surround. Since my sister has an CTS, I popped out the insert from my Eldo and laid it against her grille to compare the sizes. The CTS grille is only slightly larger (appx 1" top and bottom while 2.8" on the sides) than the opening for the Eldorado. The sweep of the CTS is less than that of the Eldo, so I knew I had to roll it cause the indentation for the wreath and shield wouldn't allow for a crisp bend down the centerline. To determine how much to cut and where to bend I used my insert as a template.

You'll notice on my grille that the wreath and shield are not centered top to bottom. This was done as a conscious decision cause I'm lazy. After removing all the excess CTS hardware from the grille, I noticed the mesh had five small metal plates welded to it for mounting points. One of which was 3" long at the top dead center of the grille. Since I had no intentions of doing any welding, I decided to leave the top center of the grille intact and shape it using as much of the existing top fold as possible. Based on the above assumptions, I laid the CTS grille face down, clamped the Eldo insert tightly against the top centerpoint of the CTS grille and using a black marker drew an outline of the insert directly on the mesh. I then drew another outline 1" outside the original. This gave me my apexes for my bends and an outline for excess to be cut away.

I used the cutting wheel to cut down the CTS grille. Since this was going to be irreversible I took my time, compared my outline to my template several times during my breaks from cutting. The cutting was tough going. Unlike cutting wood or soft solid metal, cutting wire mesh along a line other than perpendicular is a slow process. Go too fast and the metal starts glowing red hot, too slow and the cutting wheel binds. Every two or three inches, I bent the excess away from the cutting area to keep from burning or cutting myself with the freshly cut edges.

Once the cutting was complete, I was ready to begin folding and shaping the mesh to fit my surround. I initially started working the metal just on the vise, but quickly realized the folds would be too sharp. So I cut down a 2x4 into two 24" sections and held the grill in the vise sandwiched between the 2x4s. I quickly realized that if I lined up my marking for the fold line just above one of the 2x4s, I could hammer the fold in a straight line the length of the 2x4 and it made a more rounded fold. In order to make everything match up, I test fit the mesh several times while working the sides and corners with the mallet.

For the surround, I wanted to cut out its 4 verticle bars and all the backplane that held the original insert for a clean opening, but after experimenting with a 94 Eldo grille I realized all of that was necessary for rigidity. So I decided I could paint those sections with a flat black and it would virtually disappear against the black radiator. By using my existing insert as a template when it came time to fit the mesh grille into the surround, I realized it would be a tight fit. This actually worked out well because it forced me to compress the mesh to get it in which made the whole structure stronger, made the mesh stand out more, and masked those areas where the bends in the corners weren't true.

After I assured myself all the folds would fit into the surround I had to go back over some sections to trim the excess and then sanded all the cut wires smooth to prevent cutting into the surround. During the final test fit I marked the surround for my mounting screws. The top center plate that I left intact was easy, the other five holes I located two on the top and three on the bottom. For strength I looked for evenly spaced sections of the grille where the screws would protrude inside a diamond so the washers would press down on at least two wires. Because of the design of the surround the inner wall has just enough room to get a small nut in and hold with an open end wrench. I drilled the six holes just big enough for the screws to fit and with the washers against the grille tightened them down.

The grille & Surround then mount back on the hood, reconnect the hood latch and then you're done.
 

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The Last Good Gremlin
06 XLR-V and 96 Eldorado ESC-V -- One day ;)
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2,654 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)

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The Last Good Gremlin
06 XLR-V and 96 Eldorado ESC-V -- One day ;)
Joined
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2,654 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
As far as chroming the surround, I tried to do it myself at first. How hard could it be to rough the original surface and spray on a few coats of paint. Boy was I wrong! NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE TELLS YOU THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CHROME PAINT!!!!!! I tried three times with three different products, all with the same result - the "chrome" paint dulled as soon as you put on the clearcoat. The last product I got directly from the Dupli-color regional rep (complete with prep instructions and all tools and equipment, same result). So I had to do a lotta searching to find someone to chrome the plastic surround. There are probably four places in the US that can do it. I contacted Ron Burnette at Metal Essense (WWW.Metalessenceinc.com) since he was closest to me. And he did an outstanding job (especially since he had to clean up after my screw-ups with all the paint and the price was more than reasonable).
 

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The Last Good Gremlin
06 XLR-V and 96 Eldorado ESC-V -- One day ;)
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2,654 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
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The Last Good Gremlin
06 XLR-V and 96 Eldorado ESC-V -- One day ;)
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2,654 Posts
Discussion Starter #6

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Registered
2004 Escalade, 07 Road King, 08 Challenger SRT8
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712 Posts
I like the grille, man.... nice job.

On the spoiler, why the Trans Am GTA spoiler???

Go to TexasDAR.com and order the right spoiler...

But the grille... Nice job.
 

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02 Seville, 04 SRX
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1,343 Posts
That looks awesome! Great job! Personally, I'd not add the wing. I love the lines on the Eldorado as is, the wing may ruin it.
 

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90 Eldo -SOLD-, 98 ETC -SOLD-, 86 XR4Ti Track Car, 07 Ranger
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963 Posts
Nice job GizmoQ, need some measurements if you would be so kind, can you measure the spacing between wires (open square size) and the thickness of the wire?

Thanks!
 

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The Last Good Gremlin
06 XLR-V and 96 Eldorado ESC-V -- One day ;)
Joined
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2,654 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Nice job GizmoQ, need some measurements if you would be so kind, can you measure the spacing between wires (open square size) and the thickness of the wire?

Thanks!
Thanx,

O.K. This is not an exact micrometer measure and my grille is OEM GM part so you could get the measurement at any dealership. Looks like the box is just under 3/8 of an inch or 8mm and the wire is about 1.5mm.
 

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Sedan de Ville, CTS
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4,764 Posts
Send pics of fuzzy dice, curb feelers, continental kit, skirts, moon hub caps, and cat with lighted eyes on rear shelf.

Don't worry about fox tails on antenna; they are now illegal.

Just think of all the beer and pizza you coulda bought!!

(Grill looks good.)
 

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90 Eldo -SOLD-, 98 ETC -SOLD-, 86 XR4Ti Track Car, 07 Ranger
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963 Posts
I think I've found a way to do this for less than $100 with a bit of extra labor :) Wouldn't be chrome, but polished stainless, could prolly get it chromed for cheap though...
 

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The Last Good Gremlin
06 XLR-V and 96 Eldorado ESC-V -- One day ;)
Joined
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2,654 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
I think I've found a way to do this for less than $100 with a bit of extra labor :) Wouldn't be chrome, but polished stainless, could prolly get it chromed for cheap though...
This reminds me of something I forgot to mention. For those of you interested in the Sports Grille look, you can buy the CTS grille screen off ebay and install it behind your grille insert. Don't know how that would look, but I'm sure it would be easier and cheaper mod than mine.
 

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90 Eldo -SOLD-, 98 ETC -SOLD-, 86 XR4Ti Track Car, 07 Ranger
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963 Posts
I was thinking of getting wire mesh from mcmaster car comparable in wire size/opening to the V-Grille and just fabbing my own one up, just need to polish the stainless steel...
 

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1996 Eldorado Sport Coupe, 2009 Black Navigator
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5,032 Posts
The grill looks great. You have skills. I only wish you could have taken picks of the entire process.

Edit: I agree dump that spoiler.
 

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The Last Good Gremlin
06 XLR-V and 96 Eldorado ESC-V -- One day ;)
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2,654 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
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