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#1: 08-23-2009, 04:13 PM
08/09 DIY LGT STI Grill
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I had always wanted the JDM STI grill to fit the 08/09 USDM bumper, and since the Group Buy never seemed like it'd happen, I decided to make my own. First, I should give complete credit to StopLightAssasin (I think he was the first to recommend it) for suggesting the Crown Victoria honeycomb grill. I'll also give credit to GroceryGetter for selling me his stock grill to hack-up.

For reference, here is a picture of the grill I was trying to replicate.

Here are the materials I used for this:
- 01 Crown Victoria Honeycomb Police Grill (eBay special for $40).
- 08 stock grill (not needed, if you trust your DIY skills)
- Tear-drop rubber weather strip (I could only find it in 20' lengths for $20 )
- Quick-set Hard Plastic Epoxy
- Jigsaw or other cutting implement of destruction
- Dremel with several cut-off wheels
- Zip ties... lots and lots of zip-ties

Before starting the steps, let me go through some of the logic for some of my choices. I spent ~10 hours on this project, but a lot of that time was with some trial-and-error getting the grill to fit just right, and finding the right materials. I wanted that black rim around the honeycomb portion like the actual STI grill contains. I tried several different materials (from hardplastic bathroom trim, to 4 different rubber weatherstrip trims). I think the bathroom trim would have looked the best, but I couldn't get it to cleanly bend around the corners. When I tried using a heat-gun, it would melt too much. and just didn't look good. And thus, the use of the tear-drop weather stripping (which in the end, I think looks great). You can see a picture of the stripping later in the post. Next, the Crown Victoria grill will NOT completely fit in the 08/09 grills, so if you don't want to mess with the trim, you'll need to upgrade to the F-150 honeycomb grills. The CV grill is tall and wide enough, but it slopes along the top, and thus you'll be about 1/4" short on the upper two corners. I didn't mind since I wanted the trim, but I would have been SOL if that wasn't the case.

Here is a picture of the stock grill and the CV grill:

1 - Start by disassembling the stock Legacy grill. This is done through a set of screws and clips from the back.

2 - Cut out the CV honeycomb grill. I used a jigsaw, since trying to get in there with a dremel would have been hard. In addition, I quickly found out that this hard plastic will eat cut-off wheels (I think it's because the plastic doesn't offer any heat dissipation like a normal metal surface). Make sure you go as close to the rim as possible on the top and bottom. You'll end up trimming off a lot of the sides, so you can use the chrome portion of the Legacy grill if you want to see the cut-off area for the sides.

3 - Cut out the back of the Legacy grill. I really tried to avoid this. My original plan was to just attach the honeycomb to the chrome trim, and slap it back onto the grill backing. Sadly, I could not get this to work. Fear not! After everything is said and done, you really can't tell that the back is all hacked apart - unless you are making a show-car, I would not worry about filling in the holes. Just go for as smooth as possible for all the cuts so that you don't get any shadow effects. I used a dremel for all of this work.

Here is a picture with my original fitment (pre-fine-trimming)

4 - I suggest re-attaching the chrome grill to the Legacy back at this point. After acidently cutting off too much on one of my cuts, I regret not doing this myself. You can actually see in the picture above that I originally shaped it to fit the back black-plastic lip, but didn't like that, so I ended up moving it forward when I started cutting for the trim pieces.

5 - Start shaping the CV honeycomb. Not much to describe here, just start cutting! If you are wanting to do the trim method, you'll want to angle the cuts so that there is a 1/8" to 1/4" gap at the front, but is touching at the back (so that you have some glue attachment points). Be careful not to cut too much - I had to re-glue together one of the bottom corner spars due to cutting off too much (I cut off 3/4" too much!). If you can spot it in the picture, you'll win a prize.

6 - Once you have the grill to the shape you think you need, try to fit the trim and make sure it fits cleanly all the way around. Do NOT attempt to do all the trim at the same time. Since I had 20' of the stuff, I just cut off a one foot section and did a fit check all the way around. Do not bother to stick it down at this point. I used zip-ties on the hold the CV grill in place while I did this. Since I had to pull the grill off sereral times to trim extra plastic, I ended up going through a LOT of zip ties. I also originally planned to fill the black weather stripping (since it's hollow) with silicone sealant - however, this just led to a huge mess and no gain. In the end, I gave up on that idea and just went with leaving it hollow.

7 - Once you are happy with the fitment, pull the CV grill out. Now is the time to lay down the trim piece. If you used the same stuff I did, it had a sticky backing. This actually came in quite handy for getting it layed just right. Do NOT rely on this to hold the trim, however. I highly recommend gluing this down before the next step. I did not, and I had some of it shift after attaching the grill (if you look close, you'll see my top right side is too far forward). I found out the hard way that you really can't reposition the rubber stripping once you've glued the CV grill, so make sure you are happy before that point! I had my two ends meet at the very top - I figured this would be the least visable spot on the grill. I used a dab of epoxy to hold the two ends together.

8 - Put back in the CV grill, and epoxy away. I highly recommend the quick-set hard-plastic epoxy. I tried some regular epoxy, and it didn't bond well. Same with Epoxy Putty - they just don't stick to the hard plastic very well. But the hard plastic epoxy made a VERY solid bond - I'm not concerned about the grill falling out. I did take some of my scrap plastic spars from trimming and used those to create extra bracers in various non-visable places around the back for added strength.
9 - Remove the badge from the old Legacy grill, and stick it to the new one! If you leave the trim around the badge, it's a perfect fit over the CV badge spot. However, it took about 7 layers of double-sided sticky tape to build-up enough pad to get it to stick. If I have one concern about my grill, it's that my badge is going to fall off. I keep checking it every week to make sure it's still fastened. As for removing the old badge, I have no recommendations other than a lot of brute strength. Do NOT try to pry from the front of the grill - you'll damage the trim. I spanned the grill across two boards face-down, and used a good portion of my weight pushing on the alignment pins poking through the back - Subaru uses REALLY good sticky tape for those badges!

10 - Put it on the car, stand back, and admire the end result!


Last edited by Squiden; 08-23-2009 at 04:16 PM..
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