Moparts Tech Archive
Body And Paint
Repro "CUDA" GrilleIT'S FINALLY HERE!!
It's for a 1971 Barracuda. It came via DHL today, 01-10-05 & arrived without any damages. This is good news because Steve at Premiere Plastics has had some damage issues in the past with UPS & FedEx. I've been using DHL for over a year & never had a problem yet. There's no size restrictions, & they're cheaper by 20% or more.
About the grille, I bought the grille on eBay 10-31-04 & sent the crate I made to make sure it was packaged the way I wanted it, & safe from the shipping gorrillas. The grille was advertised with a "Buy It Now" price of $599 & needing prep & finishing before it's painted.
There are minor blemishes & marks from the molding process & not severe, so the grille is exactly as I expected it, & exactly as advertised. There are no inserts (cheese graters) mouldings, or brackets included. These are not being made & originals must be used.
I won't get into it right now in detail, but customer service is NOT one of their finer assets. Constant delays, & total lack of communication were a big problem. If I was informed of the problem up front, I would be okay with it. It was in stock & I had paid for this the first week in November. I had been promised many times it will be sent in a couple of days, but just got it today. (You do the math.)
I have yet to test fit the grille & will try this week to see if there are any problems & post back. If it fits well, even with the delays I may consider another grille from Premiere. Steve did an excellent job on packing as I had asked him to. (I included all the packing materials inside the crate when I shipped it to him.)
I have more photos I will post, & will try answer any questions anyone may have, but not tonight. I'll try to get the contact info together & post again tomorrow. Enough babbling, here's some pics:
The grille is injection molded, & I was told it was a mold made from aluminum. I'm not familiar with the process, or type of plastic used. It does seem more flexible than the original materials & may withstand wear & tear better. There is minor finishing needed on this grille, but once it's painted I don't think it will be an issue. I can't say for sure how accurate it is, because I don't have an original grille to compare to. If someone wants to come by my place with an original one to do a side by side comarison, I'm all for it, but definitely not this week, I'm buried with things to do.
The company is called "Premiere Plastics" & based in CA, & the guy's name is Steve Sexton. Other grilles & parts are supposed to become available, like B-Body consoles molded in "COLORS" & not painted or dyed. Charger grilles for '68 & '69 are also possible this year, but nothing scheduled with a date yet.
I will take more pics this week as I install some trim & the 6 inserts (cheese graters) for a test fit. The only trim I don't have is the 4 outer surrounding pieces. I'll also place it into the front of the car to see how it lines up, but I don't have the 2 large brackets to mount it yet.
I decided to go with the repro for a couple of reasons. First is the cost. This one was $599 as opposed to a bare, cracked, original that was almost $1500 on eBay last week. It's brand new plastic & not something that's 35 years old & damaged from UV rays, vibration or impact. I'm not assembling a 100 point show car & not worried about originality, just a decent looking driver.
Don't want to leave evryone hanging, but progress is slow. I unpacked the crate again to bring the grille inside where it's warmer to work on it. (Been single digits here in NY lately) At the very least, I'll try to fit the 6 inserts tonight or tomorrow morning, & let everyone know how they fit. The only trim pieces I have, are the 6 "C" shaped ones that surround the inserts. The outer 4 pieces of trim will have to wait until I get lucky on eBay probably.
Hey Scott, the info I got on the injection mold process, was only what was told to me by Steve Sexton at Premiere Plastics. He said the molds were made from aluminum, & that there was over $100K invested into this. I don't know where it's made, here in the US, China or elsewhere, but for my use I'll have to make the best of it. I just won't shell out 2 or 3 times the money for a hunk of plastic, original or otherwise.
I paid $599 for the repro grille shell, & have yet to see an original for anything less than $1200 that wasn't cracked or missing sections of it. If the price difference was 10% to even 30% higher, I would go original instead. When I see a 100% higher price for a 35 year old piece of plastic, I can't justify it. Damaged or not, there is absolutely NO WAY the integrity of the original plastic grille that has been outdoors, on the road & subjected to all the conditions a car has seen, & is going to be as good as a new part.
I'm not after complete originality or a 100 point show car, just a presentable driver. If the trim doesn't fit well, I'll be annoyed & let Premiere know about it. We'll see how concerned he is after that. I had been in touch with a couple of others who had purchased a grille & were okay with it. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find out from anyone if the trim fits. Everyone is in the same position as myself, working on projects, & not in the reassembly stages.
I hate to be someone who falls into the catagory of "just settling" for what's available, (most of the time I won't) but as a lot of others know already, E-Body stuff has been way overpriced, & much worse presently.Okay, any drum rolls? I wish I did have an original grille for comparison purposes, but since I don't, I won't be able to say if the repro has some areas that are worse, the same, or better than a Mopar grille. The parts I test fit onto the grille are originals & not repros.
Scott Smith noted shrinkage as a possible problem, but since the parts I put on are small, there wasn't any great distance that would affect them. The biggest chance for error will be the upper & lower, horizontal, stainless steel pieces. Unfortunately, I don't have these 2 yet & can't check. I would imagine if anything will have a fit problem, it could be these.
All I had time for today was the 6 grille inserts & the 4 headlight rings. These parts are mint originals without any damage. The 6 inserts have all the studs on the back, & line up perfectly with the holes molded into the grille. They all fit nicely into each cavity with NO rocking, tilted, or odd looking fit.
The 4 headlight rings are also in perfect shape, & the two, small, 1/8" alignment studs on the back of each ring are also there. These studs line up with the openings in the grille, but since they are small, they only grab the grille very slightly, but enough to keep them aligned. (I believe that was the intention for these studs.)
The outer rings fit nicer than the inner rings, & that may be due to the fact the inner rings sit against a small lip on the front surface of the grille, & not a flat surface like the outer rings. The screw holes on the rings line up with the screw holes molded into the grille, but not 100% perfectly.
I'm almost positive that once I spend some time prepping, sanding & finishing the areas on the grille that need attention, there won't be any problem mounting them. The alignment of the holes appear close enough to work well, but the grille is still in a slightly rough stage. (Some excess plastic at holes to be removed or trimmed.) It was never advertised as a ready to bolt in piece, so I knew there was some work involved.
I'll add a link shortly with the rest of the pics, but don't want to have this page take 20 minutes to download. Here is an overall view of the grille with the parts resting in place & not fastened.
If anyone has any qestions, or needs more info & pics, I'll be glad to try to help. I will be calling or emailing Steve Sexton at Premiere Plastics to get his updated contact info on the grille & other products that are supposed to be out in the near future. I'll post back with what I get.
Okay, the holes in the grille shell where the ends of these mouldings go, need to be either trimmed a bit, or opened up completely. These areas are some of the places that need some minor prep. The 6 mouldings do fit into the channel quite well, but without opening the holes it won't fit all the way. I'll place them back into the grille tonight & snap a few pics. I may even open up the holes since at some point I'll have to do that anyway.
Glad you like the brackets, they should work fine (exactly as OEMs did).
BTW, just an FYI, after scrutinizing those pics a bit I've come to the conclusion that they are not an injection molded part but rather a cast resin part. One tip off is the surface texture. They cast the Urethane mold from an original grill that still had argent paint on it, (hence the rough surface texture) all original grills were originally (injection molded smooth, then painted) also some original mold flaws are reflected in the part, something that would not show in a duplicate hard steel tool or subsequent part.
So, I feel secure in saying that regardless of what they are telling you, it's not an injection molded ABS plastic reproduction part from a steel tool (as originals were made) but rather a cast liquid resin part produced from a flexible silicone mold.
Let us know how the final trim fitting goes!