Classic Corvette Grille Replacement

This 1954 Shows Off Its Shiny New Mouth

Tom Rounds Jun 1, 2000 0 Comment(s)

Step By Step

The complete Grille Assembly and Oval Kit contains everything you need. All of the mounting hardware for the teeth, grille bar, and grille oval are included, and all of the nuts and bolts.

You can see why we replaced the old grille. The oval’s seams were no longer holding together...

...and the chrome quality had deteriorated.

Taking the old grille apart presented a challenge. With so little room to work, putting a hand and the necessary tools to the retaining nut on the backside was nearly impossible. Here, you can see that only a few fingers fit.

Unbolt and remove the support brackets.

We learned fast that removing one of the grille teeth on each end allows easier access to all of the retaining nuts on the backside of the grille. In this photo, the unbolted tooth is removed.

Once the retaining bolts securing the grille-mounting brackets are removed, the center section comes out in one piece.

Before the grille oval can be removed, 14 nuts and retaining plates spreading around the inner side must be taken off. The retaining plates can get wedged in place. Use a small flat-head screwdriver to gently pop them out, being careful not to damage the fiberglass.

Remove the old grille oval.

In an attempt to save money, the owner had some repair work done to the old grille oval. As you can see, he did not achieve the desired result.

When assembling the new grille, pay special attention to the arrangement of the teeth. There are five different sizes, and each has its own spot. Each side of the tooth’s cutout is contoured differently to fit the angle of the grille bar. This means you must install each tooth so it stays parallel with the others.

We installed all of the new studs on the teeth before mounting them onto the grille bar.

Here, a grille-tooth backing plate is bolted in place.

A grille-mounting bracket must be attached on the center and end teeth, and on the third tooth from each end. Here, the backing plate was put on, then the grille-mounting bracket.

We installed all 14 studs on the back of the grille oval. The new studs are made to accept an Allen wrench.

There are two different grille oval retaining plates--2 curved, double-hole plates for the ends, and 10 straight, single-hole plates for the top and bottom.

The fiberglass opening needed filing in a couple of spots so the grille oval would fit properly. Once filed, the grille oval slid easily into place.

Once we got the grille oval to fit properly, we could install all of the retaining plates and tighten the nuts.

Removing the front vertical bumpers makes installing the grille-teeth assembly easier. Here, the grille-teeth assembly is put into place.

Once again, removing one tooth on each end makes bolting the assembly easy. Here, we tighten the grille-mounting brackets to complete our installation. Dig the snazzy new grin.

Our 1954 had a set of rotten teeth--the old grille had seen its day. The chrome had lost its sparkle, and the scratches were really showing. Pitting was evident in spots, and the fit wasn’t what it should be. The outer oval broke apart at the top center seam and rattled.

How could we let this nice 1954 be seen in public like that? Working with Corvette Central, we ordered a new complete Grille Assembly and Oval Kit (PN 421003) to bring the front back to its original glory.

Follow along with us while we remove the old parts and install new ones.

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