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Grille and Headlight Restoration

John Folz

Well-Known Member
Local time
10:40 PM
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Jun 7, 2021
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Location
Willmar Minnesota
This weekends project was to tackle the full grille and headlight bucket restoration for my 66 Charger. I read a couple threads on this subject before attempting the process myself. VERY VERY tedious and time consuming but well worth it in the end. Fingers crossed it holds up.

1.Cleaned up all the parts before hand. 2.Took a scuff pad to all the areas previously painted black from the factory. 3.Ran all of the chrome edges through the buffing wheel. 4.Cleaned all the parts again to be ready for paint. 5.Ended up using both methods of taping and lacquer on a cloth to clean up the chrome after painting. Each method has its benefits. Taping was easiest on the buckets and grille but not the easiest around the headlight openings. 2 coats of etch prime and 2 coats on paint over top. Came back after an hour or so of baking in the sun with a Q-tip dipped in lacquer to clean up any missed spot or over spray.


For argument or debate conversation the grille medallion definitely was gold from the factory on this 66


Pictures Below

Parking Light R.jpg




Taped Bucket.jpg


Grille Emblem.jpg


Finished Parts.jpg


Headlight Cover.jpg
 
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Very nice!! Whatever time it takes is well worth it. Nicest grill out there. Now, the fun part is adjusting and shimming to get everything nicely aligned. That is what will make your car stand out against the next one. It's a patience deal. Some holes may need to be slotted a bit.
And the center medallion... I always believed there was gold ones adamantly.. but they were red, then faded.
 
This weekends project was to tackle the full grille and headlight bucket restoration for my 66 Charger. I read a couple threads on this subject before attempting the process myself. VERY VERY tedious and time consuming but well worth it in the end. Fingers crossed it holds up.

1.Cleaned up all the parts before hand. 2.Took a scuff pad to all the areas previously painted black from the factory. 3.Ran all of the chrome edges through the buffing wheel. 4.Cleaned all the parts again to be ready for paint. 5.Ended up using both methods of taping and lacquer on a cloth to clean up the chrome after painting. Each method has its benefits. Taping was easiest on the buckets and grille but not the easiest around the headlight openings. 2 coats of etch prime and 2 coats on paint over top. Came back after an hour or so of baking in the sun with a Q-tip dipped in lacquer to clean up any missed spot or over spray.


For argument or debate conversation the grille medallion definitely was gold from the factory on this 66


Pictures Below

View attachment 1659045

View attachment 1659053

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View attachment 1659055

View attachment 1659057

View attachment 1659058
Mega NICE!!!
 
Very nice!! Whatever time it takes is well worth it. Nicest grill out there. Now, the fun part is adjusting and shimming to get everything nicely aligned. That is what will make your car stand out against the next one. It's a patience deal. Some holes may need to be slotted a bit.
And the center medallion... I always believed there was gold ones adamantly.. but they were red, then faded.
Thank you!

I was never sure what the believe either but I believe there was a run of gold emblems. Maybe Early Ones??? Who knows. I do not believe this was ever red before just doesn't seem like it I guess. Because on the other hand the emblem on my 67 is very clearly red that has faded some over time

Front End.jpg
 
Very nice!! Whatever time it takes is well worth it. Nicest grill out there. Now, the fun part is adjusting and shimming to get everything nicely aligned. That is what will make your car stand out against the next one. It's a patience deal. Some holes may need to be slotted a bit.
And the center medallion... I always believed there was gold ones adamantly.. but they were red, then faded.
In 2006 we attended the TDC Meet in Jefferson City Missouri, which was the 40th Anniversary of the Charger.
Carl Cameron came along while I was replacing my gauges which failed the morning we left on the trip. I asked him about gold medallions. He said ( there were only red ones). He went on to say there were a few suppliers. Some medallions just faded with age.
I certainly wish I had asked him to write that down.
 
It's my opinion that they were all red as well.
Furthermore, I didn’t have any reason to disbelieve him. Unfortunately he died a few months later from a heart attack.
He was in the process of having a 66 or 67 hatchback made for one of his cars. He showed me his sketches and drawings.
Not sure but he may have been working with Dean Yeargen(sp) on this.
 
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Many years ago I had this same conversation at a couple of (now gone) dealerships. Brought it up to Jim Rodebaugh in the past as well.

Even in the late eighties you saw gold medallions, hence my curiosity.

Anyway, the answer was always the same...they were all red, but some faded gold.

I have an N.O.S. one (still in the box) that hasn't seen the light of day. FWIW, it's still red.

I am not an expert, just sharing my experience.
 
Even in the late eighties you saw gold medallions, hence my curiosity.
My original grille was gold way in the late 80's and the car had sat in a barn for 10 years or more.
The one on the car is red. I saw it on E-bay years ago and noticed it was red but had 2 broken chrome ribs.
I bought it immediately for like $70 or something like that if I remember correctly.
My guess is that it was broken when the car was fairly new probably replaced and then put on a shelf for a long time.
 
Here's one that I thought was gold.. but if you spin it in the right light you can see red tones ( from shadow by the fratzog I assume)
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I put this pic on Friday frontends as well
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Waiting for the new grille and bucket hardware kit to finish the buckets. Decided to stay with the gold emblem. Understand factory was more than likely red but this should go nicely with the ZZ1 paint

20240507_185811.jpg
 
It looks to me like the red was applied over gold sorta like a candy paint. Red pigments don't fare well in the sunlight. I painted mine gold on purpose .

Your grille parts look nice! Did you get a new set of bushings for the buckets?
 
Same as the hood ornament on my '66 Belvedere II...318 call-out looked gold/ tan when I got the car. My uncle (original owner) said it started life red, but faded in it's 1st couple years of ownership. The repop I replaced it with came in red. They likely used the same metal (foil) decal material in your grille medallion as my hood ornament.
 
Waiting for the new grille and bucket hardware kit to finish the buckets. Decided to stay with the gold emblem. Understand factory was more than likely red but this should go nicely with the ZZ1 paint

View attachment 1659801
I have a great good looking gold one. Would like to see your finished front grille in place.
 
It looks to me like the red was applied over gold sorta like a candy paint. Red pigments don't fare well in the sunlight. I painted mine gold on purpose .

Your grille parts look nice! Did you get a new set of bushings for the buckets?

Thanks!

I have not yet. I will need them eventually but we are a ways from that sadly
 
I did the same to mine but have yet to put it back together. My medallion at first looked gold but the edges were ever so lightly red. I think they were painted candy/Translucent red with a gold background to make it metallic. Red paint does not hold up to sunlight the photons of sunlight end up stripping the red away. How many red cars have you seen with horribly faded paint? This is because the color that's most susceptible to fading in the sunlight is red. This is especially true of intense red colors which may fade even faster. My 2 cents.
 
Closest she is going to be to being assembled for at least a year or 2. Just starting the body work stage on the shell

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