What is a grille? To answer that one only needs to think back to the Edsel of the Studebaker. Those cars were distinctive for one reason and one reason only: they had very recognizable grilles.
Other than being a part of the appearance of a car, the grille actually serves a purpose. It allows air to flow into the engine compartment, thus cooling down the radiator and engine. You might also find grilles below the front bumper, in front of the wheels or in the cowl to provide ventilation in the cabin of the automobile.
The other purpose that grilles have is to provide a custom look to the vehicle. There are two types of grilles, the OEM grille, which is a replica of the one that comes from the manufacturer when the vehicle is built and the Custom grille which is different from the one offered on the original models. Both are considered aftermarket parts and almost all are made from aluminum.
Grilles are usually bolted onto the front end assembly and as such are reasonably easy to replace. The replacement cost, however, is not so easy on the pocketbook and as such it is always recommended that you buy a replacement grille at a salvage yard to save money.
Today one really only needs to see the grille of many cars to tell what brand of car it is. The Mercedes has a very recognizable grille as do the Rolls Royce, the Ford Fusion and the Cadillac. In fact, name a car and chances are that the grille is one of the first things people think of when describing that car.
The first grille appeared on a vehicle in 1907 and early on they were simply a means of circulating air. They did not become a significant cosmetic car part until after World War II.
Other famous grilles are the Bugatti’s horse-collar design, the Mitsubishi sweep, the Lances which looked like a jet fighter and the Alfa Romeo with six bars.
Replacing a grille, as stated earlier, is a very simple project. There are so many repairs and replacements that can be done by most people that one really needs to consider salvage yards as a viable alternative. In today’s economy very few people can afford to pay for labor fees on car repair. It just seems silly to do so when it is so easy to make some of these repairs.