Billet Grilles can lead to an obsession for good looks
May 1, 2006
Before you begin sifting through an extensive stock of premium billet grilles, take a moment to learn a little about the basics of their construction, installation and other important characteristics. Use this resource as a guide for picking your perfect billet grille.
The vehicles we drive are a reflection of our own identities. That's why hunting for a new set of wheels is not simply a matter of choosing any vehicle that's on sale down at the lot. On the contrary, we all have our own complex list of criteria that guides us through the decision making process. For some, nothing is more important than engine size and transmission type. For others, it's all about trunk space.
However, the one unifying criterion that is at the top of everyone's list is style. There is something about the unique design of certain cars, trucks and SUVs that attracts us, often in very primal, inexplicable ways. Like moths to the warming glow of a light bulb, we are drawn in by the curves, lines and contours of certain vehicles. And, once they catch our eye, we are driven to acquire them, or at least another vehicle that looks quite similar.
Even after our thirst for the right automobile is quenched, we still want to project our own unique personality into its design. While there are superficial ways of doing this (e.g. a pair of fuzzy-dice dangling from the rear view mirror, or a personalized license plate frame that often reads, "I'd rather be golfing"), there are more substantial ways of modifying the attitude of your vehicle.
A simple yet significant way of customizing your vehicle's presence is by upgrading the stock grille to a more powerful, more expressive billet grille. Before you begin sifting through an extensive stock of premium billet grilles, take a moment to learn a little about the basics of their construction, installation and other important characteristics. Use this resource as a guide for picking your perfect billet grille.
Fundamentals of Billet Grille Style
Aluminum Billet Grilles
The material most widely used in the billet grille industry is aluminum, for good reasons, too. Aluminum is known for its strength, versatility, low-density, durability and resistance to corrosion. Because of its malleability, aluminum can easily be rolled, stamped, drawn, spun, hammered or forged into almost any shape, making it the ideal metal for the automotive and aerospace industries. While there are 7 different types of aluminum alloy, billet grille manufacturers use either the 5xxx or 6xxx series. The difference between these two types is that they are wrought from different alloy components. 5xxx series aluminum uses magnesium as its principle alloy, which makes it mild to moderately strong, and resistant to corrosion. In the 6xxx series, a mixture of magnesium and silicon are used, producing a higher-strength aluminum with excellent corrosion resistance.
Stainless Steel Billet Grilles
Known the world over for its strength and corrosion resistance, stainless steel is a popular metal used for crafting billet grilles. The reason that it resists rust so successfully is that it has a high chromium content. In fact, for steel to be considered stainless, it needs to have at least a 10.5% chromium content. Plus, stainless steel is incredibly tough, resilient and easily fashioned into a multitude of forms and shapes.
Just like the aluminum, there are two types of stainless steel used in billet grilles. The more economical of the two, 409 series stainless steel, is commonly used for many different automotive accessories because of its sturdiness. The other type of stainless steel, 304, is another popular automotive metal. It has a higher chromium content for the ultimate in corrosion resistance.
ABS Plastic Billet Grilles
The most cost effective billet grille material available is the ABS Plastic. Widely used across the entire automobile accessories spectrum, ABS Plastic is a lightweight, rigid and durable thermoplastic material. While it is not as strong as stainless steel or aluminum, ABS Plastic still makes an excellent medium for building billet grilles because the plastic is impervious to rust and quite durable. For added customization, it can usually be painted to match or accent your stock paint.
To Billet or Not to Billet
After deciding what materials you would like you grille to be made out of, billet grilles can be divided into two camps based on their installation type: bolt over billet grilles and replacement billet grilles. Their installation is quick and easy. In fact my 8 year old son installed our bolt over grille on our ‘02 Ford F150 in nearly 5 minutes! :)
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