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Austin Vert's Grille Makeover Project.

Hi To All,

Just wanted to run through my recent standard grille makeover and maybe give some inspiration to other members.


When it comes to doing up our Mustangs, you have freedom of choice to how you want to go about it. In my case, i had the original standard grille when i bought the car. I know everyone's preferences can be different as to what look they want. I didn't really know what way i wanted to go. Should i buy a Mach 1 grille or keep my standard grille? For me, i really like the big chrome horse emblem that comes with the standard grille in preference to the smaller tri-bar emblem that goes with the Mach 1 grille.The chrome horse makes a big statement to me and stands out. I don't have any objection to the look of the standard grille as well. So i decided to keep it and refurbish it. Given that the convertibles were never released in a Mach 1 format, and i have gone down that road of dressing my car up along the Mach 1 style, i myself take the attitude of not pretending that my car is a Mach 1 and every thing i do to the car must then fall into a strict Mach 1 formula look so to speak. If i vary the theme along the way, that's OK with me. So i had decided to refinish it in the same original color scheme. Dark charcoal metallic and dirty silver metallic for the inside corral and perimeter garnish.I had even gone to the trouble of accurately color matching both metallic colors to the original factory colors.Then at the twelth hour, i had a change of mind, and decided to paint the entire grille matt black instead, because i like the simple look of the Mach 1 grille with the chrome trim to dress it all off. Granted, it's not keeping my car striclty orignal by going that way, but i think i've succeeded in giving the front end a really good alternative appearence. (Sorry Kurt, Kit and Dana! Tongue)


OK, my grille was in fairly good original condition. It was interesting to note that the original factory paints were applied in a thin haze coat with a matt finish. There was no film thickness, and the original paint had worn off in most places because it was so thin to start out with. Prepping up was pretty straight forward.Remove the grille from the car and strip down any hardware, leaving the bare shell to paint. If your grille is faily dirty, give it a blast with the garden hose first to remove bugs or dirt. Next, wet rub the whole grille with 800 grade wet and dry paper. You don't have to be too fussy here. Just lighly sand to smooth down. If there are any stone chips or niks, pop a little bondo in to fill the imperfections, and spot prime where necessary. Sand the primer/ putty with 400 or 800 W/D, clean the grille up with wax and grease remover, blow dry off and your ready to apply the matt black.

If you want to retain the orignal metallic color scheme, i would spray the dirty siver color first to the inner corral and garnish. Once dry, go to the trouble of carefully masking up the entire silver areas and then spray the remaining charcoal areas last. Be warned though, going this way is very time consuming and labour intensive. Definately a lobour of love you might say. I would then say, carefully remove your masking and finish off by spraying the entire grille again with matt clear to protect the metallic finishes. I decided to refinish with matt black, so i did not end up putting myself through that torment.

When it comes to what type of paint to use, i chose a good quality Acrylic Lacquer pre mixed flat black. You could spray in 2Pak for more durability, but i chose Lacquer in case of easy, quick touch ups that may be needed down the track. Also, if i decide to spray the original colors some time later, i dont need to resand the grille, just move in, clean and respray over the black.If i had of used 2Pak, any refinishing will have to be sanded or scuffed so the new paint will stick to the 2Pak paint. That's a major pain. Remember to shoot your lacquer through a 1.8 to 2.0 ml setup whether it's a suction feed or conventional gravity feed gun. Don't use HVLP guns as they are not meant for shooting lacquer. I'd go for about 30 to 40 PSI at the gun head. Thinning ratio would be around 60/40. 60% good quality lacquer thinner and 40% paint.

Apply 3 to 5 coats of matt black Lacquer, letting each coat flash off to dull appearence. I chose not to prime my grille as i felt i was not gaining anything by doing so. I did not get any reaction (like frying up or wrinkling) when i applied my Lacquer to the original finish thank god, as that can easily happen when there is little to no paint on the suface you're spraying over, or the paint is old or solvent sensitive like some enamels can be. If you do get any reaction, stop spraying, and then consider using a light coat of primer/putty or a special isolator paint to isolate the old paint finish and stop any more reaction from occuring. Then, any more new paint you apply, apply in light coats, not wet, as that might bring on reaction again. I had a big win with no reaction, and my old paint was the original finish from factory. Also, you could use aerosol paint tins to do this job, but i would not reccomend it at all, as i went through a litre tin of Lacquer to do the job. Aerosol tins spray way too thin a paint as well. To finish off the project, i cleaned and sprayed the cream colored plastic back up plates that hold the indicators in place with cream Lacquer.No sanding required there as the plastic is very solvent sensitve. Just clean and dry and you're ready to go. I also refinished the inner silver indicator surrounds, and the outer shells in black Lacquer as well. The headlight surrounds and the indicator bodies were primed with a special one pak primer with good adhesion to all substrates from glass to metal. America should sell a similar paint product. I dry sanded the indicator bodies first for adhesion purposes. Don't sand the headlight surrounds at all with any abrasive, as you may reserve the option to remove the black paint at some stage in the future. Your original finish won't be marred, and will be presentable. If you are buying a new repro grille, you should scuff the whole black plastic grille down with 800 dry first, then spray a special universal plastic clear primer on next for adhesion of your paint to the raw plastic. Let dry off and move straight into your color coats. I metal polished all the stainless steel and chrome trim, assembled everything back together again, and was pleased with the finihed result. All nuts, screws and bolts were put under a wire wheel and shot with matt black lacquer as well. BTW, the original corral surround i kept on the grille, and ended up masking it off as it was a pain to remove. I noted that the quality of the original metal and chrome finish on the surround was very poor. The original headlight surrounds were edged masked off with quarter inch fine line tape, and given a matt black paint treatment as well.( when are we going to get good repro ones?Angry) Quarter inch fineline tape can also be used on masking up the inner indicator surrounds and the corral chrome piece as well. See my pics above.

Many Thanks,

Greg.Smile (Pro painter.)

Very nice Austin! That looks great, a very tasteful mod. I like the larger horse too and made an adapter to mount it to the Mach grille.

Jeff T.

Low buck, touring style, '73 Convertible "rolling restoration", 351c, 2v heads with a shave and a haircut, Performer intake, Holley 650(ish), roller rockers, screw in studs, guideplates, stainless valves, Duraspark / Motorsports MSD, T-5 conversion. 1-1/8" front, 3/4" rear swaybars KYB shocks and some home brewed subframe connectors. Future plans; JGC steering box, Cobra brakes and... paint, interior, etc.

When I die I want to die like grandpa, peacefully in my sleep... not screaming, like his passenger.

[Image: 1_12_09_14_10_15_11.png]
Hi Jeff,

Many thanks. I guess that would have been an option for me as well, but the extra cost of purchasing the Mach 1 grille and setting it all up was not the go for me. I do like the big horse with the corral look for sure. Your setup looks really good as well.



Looks real sharp Greg. Will dont mate

He has all the vices I admire and none of the virtues I despise
Luke;191501 Wrote:Looks real sharp Greg. Will dont mate

Thanks Luke, glad you like it.


Looks very well done, I wouldn't change a thing. You have one fine vert.

351w - Ford racing GT40X 178 cc aluminum heads - Ford racing(crane) 1.7 roller rockers - Comp Cams 280H magnum cam .544" / .544" lift - ARP hardware - hedman longtubes - magnaflow exhaust with X pipe - Duraspark - MSD digital 6al box - MSD TFI coil - optima red top battery - tuff stuff 140 amp alternator - weiand stealth intake  - edelbrock 1406 600 carb  - march pullies and brackets - Be cool fan controller - derale electric fan - FMX trans - motive 4.11 gears - traction lok - lakewood traction bars.                                            

Mikes73;191546 Wrote:Looks very well done, I wouldn't change a thing. You have one fine vert.

Thanks Mike, appreciate your comments. Yes, i think the old girl is shapeing up pretty well these days, if i do say so myself.Smile Hope you're keeping well.


very nice
Awesome work, Brutha! The corral and big pony look extra keen with the complete make over. thumb

Can't wait to see what you come up with next! Big Grin


[Image: mach1sig2.gif]
Mister 4x4;191574 Wrote:Awesome work, Brutha! The corral and big pony look extra keen with the complete make over. thumb

Can't wait to see what you come up with next! Big Grin

Thanks Eric and Nailpounder! Hope your resto is coming along good too Eric.


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