With new aftermarket repops, a large part of the semi-serious resto game is handled fairly painlessly. On the other hand, new NOS and premium used stuff can only get thinner every year. While there's still a steady stream of salvaged used items on the market, the rarest and most desirable items, especially those that are not being reproduced, are commanding ever higher prices-if you can find a cherry piece at all. Take a 'Cuda grille for instance. This complex chunk of molded plastic isn't being reproduced, and likely never will. Need one? Would you pay $250 for a battered center grille, sans all the trim? How about $800 for a reasonably clean complete used piece? Want the best? Close to $2000 for a mint NOS three piece set with new trim in the original boxes. We all want the best for our cars, but the reality of affording that luxury is often another matter.

The nose of my own '70 'Cuda was looking pretty shabby. Back in 1988, the missing original grille was replaced with a sweet junkyard find from a '70 Gran Coupe. Looking back at the cost of $45, it's laughable today. Now, all would have been well if I hadn't loaned the car to a well-intentioned brother-in-law while I took an extended job overseas. When the abandoned car was recovered from his ex-girlfriend's garage years later, the nose was smashed, windshield cracked, convertible top slashed, and engine fried. The slashed top, cracked screen and cooked mill were really no problem; but that grille..damn.

The 'Cuda temporarily landed in the hands of a friend who got the abused Mopar running and sent it in to a local body shop for repairs to the damaged nose. The body shop in question slapped some bondo over the cracked grille, hosed it with some Krylon spray-can silver, and called it good enough. Needless to say, things were ugly up front, but what to do? The days of the dream finds are basically long gone; there would be no $45 mint 'Cuda grilles for the picking. Weighed against the costs of finding a suitable replacement, the path was clear-fix it.

Right off, let's be clear: Taking a busted-up piece of anything, be it a fender, door, or grille, and making it presentable isn't easy. Making it look as nice as new is even tougher. Use the wrong materials and techniques, and it's impossible. Personally, I don't fix grilles every day, but I've done my own body and paint for over twenty years. Attempting these kinds of repairs takes skill and, more importantly, patience, neither of which we can provide in this story. What we can do is pass on the methods and materials that we've found successful over the years. Add in your own skill and time, and the results can be outstanding. The repairs to this grille required twenty hours of working time, start to sweet finish, of which only a sampling is covered here. Sure, it takes a while, but the finished product is nothing short of as-new beautiful.

SOURCE
R/T Specialties
4-80/-827-0171
rtspecialties.net/~rtspec