Introduction: Make a Custom Mesh Grill for Your Car for $10
This shows how to turn a grill from a Buck Regal GS ('98) into a custom mesh grill that gives the car the look it so very well deserves. There are many different ways to do this, and I picked the way that looked most like the grill I was copying. You could always have the grill farther back, or even just replace the grill entirely with just the mesh. This was just the best way to get the look I wanted. This could be used for any other car too, just adapt the idea behind it.
Now I did take inspiration for this from somewhere. On the extreme end of modding for Buick Regal GS there is version of the GS called the GSX. And they it looks HOT. The easiest way to know one is the unmistakable "GSX" grill. Now, those neato grills go for $100 on ebay, which seemed too much for me. So I set out to make a grill similar in looks, but inexpensive enough that I would not have to sell any blood or extra organs to afford it.
Note that I'm not the first to do this mod, I am just posting how I went about doing it. I'm sure there are other tutorials out there, but none I found really explained much about the process. Hopefully this is clear enough to get you going.
Step 1: Stuff Needed
You'll need a metal screen mesh. The stuff used in this tutorial is rain gutter mesh. I got mine from Menard's hardware store for under $2. Always look around at other stores to see what you can find though. The first place I went (Lowe's) had really terrible looking mesh, and I almost went with it anyways. Thankfully I went for another look. Also, be sure that it is the stiff kind, not the wimpy kind that comes in rolls. That stuff is not nearly tough enough to withstand what a car will encounter on the road.
Buy two so if you mess up on the first you can save yourself some gas money.
A car. With a grill.
Metal sheet cutters. Easily found at hardware store for under $10. Get a permanent marker too.
Dremel tool with cutting wheel and sanding drum attachments.
A lot of patience if your grill was as complex as mine was. Took 3 hours for me. But then I was being extremely careful, because I didn't know if this would work or not :P
Step 2: Take the Grill Off
You'll have to remove the grill on your car. On mine the grill was held in place from the inside with 6 special sheet metal nuts. A 10 mm ratchet got those off fast. Good thing, because it was raining at the time. The way your grill is attached may be different. Just bite it really hard and pull if nothing else works.
Step 3: Dremel Time
First, get an idea of what it will look like by comparing the grill and the mesh to see how you want to attack this.
Once you have that figured out, get out your dremel tool, and make sure you have plenty of time to spare. Also, wear eye protection. I didn't for the first half hour I was messing with this, and got pelted uncountable times in the eye with hot melted plastic before I got smart and grabbed some goggles.
Start out by attaching the cutting wheel to the dremel. Dremel off all the slats on the grill, being careful not to slice up the outside of the grill.
You should now have a rough cut piece that we will attach the mesh to.
Step 4: More Dremel Time....
Now you need to dremel the "walls" that go reach all the way to the back, all the way down to the plastic that is seen from the front. See pictures for reference. Just keep in mind you want to be able to stick mesh behind the final piece and have it lay flat against the plastic.
The way it will work is that the mesh will bent a bit into place, then be kept in place when the plastic piece is screwed on, putting pressure on the mesh between the plastic and the car body.
Use the cutting wheel attachment to get most of the plastic cut off. Then use the sanding drum to get the plastic down to the level you need, along with everything that the wheel couldn't reach. This will take a long time, so get some decent music going really loud and have fun.
Keep in mind you can also cut off a lot near the screw posts so that it will look better behind the mesh, but be sure to leave enough plastic to keep all of them stable and strong.
Step 5: Cut the Screen Mesh (not the Cheese)
Get out those tin snip scissors and lay the mesh flat. Place the plastic piece on top of the mesh. It will be more flexible without the rest of the plastic so that you can press it almost flat onto the mesh. Hold it there with duct tape if needed. Then take a permanent marker and outline the entire shape onto the mesh. Also make marks on the mesh where the screw post plastic sticks out. You'll have to cut about a quarter of an inch extra inwards between those marks, to let the screen mesh go around the screw post plastic.
When you have the main shape, start cutting! Start large and compare frequently, slowly working your way down to the shape you need. Be sure that both sides are cut identical, or it will end up looking weird.
If you mess up, just use that other piece you bought.
Step 6: Join Forces
Bend the mesh onto the plastic frame. Small snip adjustments on the mesh may be needed to keep the shape right. It should fit snugly, and a little awkward, but it will straighten out once it's attached to the car.
Step 7: Check It Out!
Put the grill on and see how it checks out! If it looks good, screw it on and you are done. Nice job! I loved how it looked on my car! It gave it a "this car is fast" feeling, without losing the sleeper look of the car. Definitely worth the time and effort.
Afterthoughts; I'm considering making a better cut piece of mesh. I also might put some bondo putty on the rougher parts of the plastic frame, sand that off to get it universally smooth, then paint it and the screen black with some black epoxy paint. I'll update when/if that happens.
One really neat thing about this design is that you can use different pieces of mesh if you get tired of the first one. I'll probably just stick with this however. It looks great!
And as you can see, it looks pretty similar to the GSX grill. And at under $10, and compared to $100... I really like that dropped digit. That'll buy me a lot of ramen noodles.
Hope you got something from my first instructable. Happy modding!
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