I have always wanted the body-color GRIP grille for my CSRT8. Always had a hard time finding a place that had them and never was too excited about the $350+ price tag. So, after a little research, I decided to make my own out of a OEM CSRT8 grille. It will not look EXACTLY like the GRIP grille, but it is pretty close, plus I always love doing things myself, by hand. I have absolutely ZERO experience with automotive body work or painting, so this truly is a job for the average DIYer or car guy. If you follow my steps, your finished product will more than likely not be 'show car' quality, but it will be pretty damn good.
First, here are the items you will need:
-OEM Chrysler 300 grille
-Mini Hacksaw (extra blades!!!)
-2-3 packets of JB Weld Quickset
-Sand paper (350,500,800,1000 grit)
-Automotive body filler
-Body-color spray paint (good stuff is available at automotivetouchup.com)
-SprayMax 2K Urethane Clear Coat
-Gloss white spray paint
-respirator (safety first, plus that 2K clear coat is nasty stuff)
-Dremel multi tool (not required, but saves some time)
-a clean, dry place to work ( i did all this in my garage)
Okay, the first step is to cut out all the vertical sections of the factory grille. This is very tedious and will take quite some time. I found that 24 teeth/inch blades worked the best. You will need to take care not to scuff up the vertical sections of grille too badly or you will just make more work for yourself down the road. I tried to use my dremel, but found it too cumbersome and not precise enough.
This is the original grille with a few vertical pieces cut out (forgot to document intitially)
This is with all the vertical pieces cut out (you can already see the grille taking shape)
Here is a closer look at what you'll have after you cut a section out.
I worked from the outsides in as I was making these cuts so that the grille would maintain its structural integrity for as long as possible.
After you cut out the vertical pieces it's time to start sanding. I used the dremel to even out the left over stumps of vertical grille before switching to a low profile sanding block and smoothing everything out as much as possible. if you have saw blade nicks, don't worry, you'll get to fix those in a little while!!
The next step is to use masking tape and tap over all of those exposed "v" shaped holes that were left from cutting out the vertical pieces.
Don't forget to tape all the "v" top and bottom.
Next mix up some of the JB weld. I used the quick set stuff so the working time is 5-6 minutes before it gets too sticky. You will want to slather this on pretty thick at each "v" making sure to overlap onto the tape and plastic of the grille on either side. I also scuffed up these parts of the grille so the JB Weld had a better surface to bond to. You do not have to be super precise with the application of this stuff, but you want to ensure you get full coverage for all exposed parts of the "v"
Here is waht it will look like after you pull the masking tape off when the JB weld sets up. Don't worry if you have excess Jb weld hanging off the back, that can be sanded down pretty easily.
Next you will want to use your body filler to smooth out all the imperfections from the cutting and JB weld. At this point in the process you can take it to a professional body shop and have them fill, prime and paint if you are uncomfortable with doing those things. Just to see, I was quoted anywhere from $200-$350 to have the work done. So I proceeded on my own. I watched a couple youtube videos about using body filler and pretty much taught myself that way. I don't have any pictures of the body filler being installed. Basically I used premixed stuff for small scratches because there were no major dents or damage to the grille. I spread it on with a plastic spreader tool as smooth as I could. After the body filler sets up, you will need to sand again. I think I went up to the 500 grit paper for this step (like i said no experience so not even sure if that was right!)
After sanding the body filler, and in order to get an even more uniform appearce, I used rattle can filler/primer. It is a thick primer that helps level and fill in any minor imperfections. if you still have visible cut marks or body filler holes, go back and repeat the body filler steps. This filler/primer will NOT fix those kinds of marks.
After the primer has dried, I sanded going up the 800 grit paper, then I used a base coat of gloss white spray paint (my car's color is Silver Steel Metallic)
After sanding again to the 800 grit level, I was prepared for the Silver Steel metallic paint. I got this stuff from Automotivetouchup.com The paint was 12 bucks I beleive and the clear coat was another 20. I ended up using about 5 coats of the Silver steel, until I was happy with the coverage and the color match to my factory paint. After the last coat, I used a light sanding with the 1000 grit paper and let it dry for 24 hours.
The clear coat i got is a two part urethane clear coat in a rattle can. It is nasty stuff and you MUST use a respirator. 3 coats of this stuff and my grille looked just like my factory paint.
Now, this is not a 'show car' quality finish, but it looks damn near perfect next to the rest of my car. Having never done body work or automotive painting before, I am very pleased with my results. However, there are imperfections in my grille....you have to be about 6-10 inches away from the grille and "trying to find them" to see them, but they are there. I already had the dremel and the other tools and grille. My only costs were the paint, primer, clear coat, plastic spreader and sand paper. Altogether, it was less than $50... Here is what it looks like installed.
Like I said a body shop will do the body filler, and painting for you if you are uncomfortable with that, however, at the prices I was quoted, i would have just bought a prepainted GRIP grille!! If you have any questions, feel free to PM me, I would be more than happy to answer them.