Since acquiring my Golf R, I’ve slowly been finding things I’d like to do the car. With the Tornado Red exterior, and black capped mirrors I’ve been coming to the conclusion that it might not be a bad thing to convert any chrome or non black-red components to either black or red. So far I’ve switched out the rear hatch release an “R” badge as well as the front “VW” badge. What’s left to do? Black out the grille!
Disassembling the grille is the next step to cover the VW bezel and two chromed strips on the grille. How hard can that be? Umm, difficult it you have 1) little patience and 2) no idea of how fond VW is of using multiple clips to connect multiple assemblies to make one grille. So given those two items it was a huge time suck for me. I was thrown off by how easy it was to remove the entire grill assembly from the body. 2 screws, that’s it.
I was filled with confidence easy on after just 45 seconds was needed to remove the Torx fasteners connecting the grille to the body. This confidence would prove unfounded as I discovered the grille is comprised of 7 separate components/assemblies connected by 30 fasteners and latches. Sure it looks simple from the front view.
And this is where it starts to get interesting…
And poof, thanks to the power of magic…
I used 3M 1080 vinyl in matte black to wrap the two chrome strips and badge bezel. I learned a lot about working vinyl, my limits with respect to detail work and focus as well as what you need to consider when trying to cover anything shiny, that’s anything that isn’t 100% covered shines the brightest. I will probably take it all apart again, and redo a few pieces that didn’t turn out to my satisfaction, and to replace 2 components that have some road scars and could use to be freshened up. In all honesty you could have done the wrap with the grille on, but knowing my limits it was better to have the 3 key pieces, 2 chrome slats and bezel, off the grille to layout the vinyl and trim around.
Time from start to finish: 5 hours. That was before checking a procedure set up by a fellow VW enthusiast, JettaELI on VW Vortex HERE.
Time from start to finish AFTER using the procedure: 3 hours. The biggest time suck is removing the 24 clips, three tabs, and two Torx fasteners.
- Plastic membership cards-luggage tags-thick business cards (review JettaELI’s procedure)
- Exacto trim knife or a hobbyist trim tool that allows fine movement
- Plastic trim removal tools (Schwaben trim kit – not essential but made my life much easier). VW plastic badges and clips do not always work well with screwdrivers. Just saying.
- Painters-masking tape: Protects any area you need to trim or nearby areas.
- vinyl – this seems self evident
- T25 Torx socket
- Towels to buffer the trim-grille while resting on the work bench (I found out the hard way when I scratched by VW badge within minutes of laying it on the bench)
- Patience-Time: Hard to put enough of an emphasis on this tool. If you are super efficient and proficient with applying-trimming decals then this won’t be an issue, but with the size of paws that I have and the attention span of a gnat I need to budget a solid afternoon, and prepared to walk away and cool down if progress is not as fast as hoped to prevent overworking any of the somewhat brittle plastic pieces. Better to take a break or walk away for a spell before breaking something important. The good news for the impatient, a new grille assembly can be had for only $200 dollars or so.
- Spare pieces of trim or fasteners – this is more of just a “what-if” if you’re prone to losing parts or heavy handed. Better to have additional Torx fasteners on hand than having to go to the store without your grille attached to the car. Also, there is one torx fastener holding the”R” onto the grille, and mine sort of stripped out when I tried reattaching it at the end of the wrapping process. I think this fastener is plastic versus the metal ones used for attaching the grille to the body.
- Final quality and coverage check before reassembling the 6-7 sub sections, remember any piece that is not black needs to be covered, and any small amount left unwrapped will shine brightest against the newly wrapped pieces. Check twice, and reassemble once.
Using JettaELI’s procedures, utilizing plastic cards listed above, I found I only had 3-4 cards on hand which is 8-9 short of the recommended amount, but I discovered you could trim the cards to double or quadruple the amount since you only need 1-2″ of width to keep the clips held open. Also, thick business cards or luggage tags also work quite well. To prevent damaging the fragile badges as well as the fickle tabs that are prone to breaking simply after gazing upon them I recommend using plastic trim tools to “gently” work behind pieces and when prying or working a piece is required. I used a Schwaben trim removal set sold by ECS Tuning. A link to that set can be found HERE.
I hope this has been helpful, and wish you all the best with any of your modifications-repairs!