Billet grilles and aftermarket grilles in general, are a dominant fixture in the automotive accessory community. This is no coincidence. While wheels, LED lighting, and performance tuners can sometimes be too much of an acquired taste for the older generation, drivers of all age groups and backgrounds can relate to the importance they place on the front of their vehicles. After all, who could blame them? The grille on a car or truck is the face of the vehicle. It is often how it is identified. Certain drivers may upgrade over their original for just plain style, while others prefer an aftermarket job for further protection. But it wasn’t always this way. In the past, grilles (or grills, depending on preference) were afterthoughts. Some might have spent more time than others maintaining a decent shine on theirs, but decades ago they were just something that came with the ride and protected the radiator. Cliche to say, but those days are obviously gone. Today, grilles are among the most sought-after automotive accessories on the planet, bringing forth a trend that is seemingly growing stronger by the minute.
Protection Versus the Elements
The more meat-and-potatoes type of driver craves an aftermarket grille as much as the fashion-enthused tuner. But their mode of selection obviously differs. Occupations and geographical locations all play a big part in why a driver purchases a certain type of grille. One of the most common reasons is to enact a line of defense between the contents under the hood and the outside conditions. Grilles are designed to modulate the airflow from the outside to the radiator and engine. But deflecting rocks, pebbles, sand, and other types of debris from reaching the inner workings has proven to be perhaps the grille’s most valuable feature, especially for those drivers who live in climates where the wind plays a big role in their daily travels.
There are manufacturers that focus on developing aftermarket grills marketed towards these types of drivers. E&G Classics and T-Rex Billet Grilles are two highly-respected names that churn out stylish options for trucks and SUVs. E&G Classics’ products have surged in popularity as of recent, as their truck grills have become an ever-growing presence on the market. T-Rex Billet Grilles is also a brand you can trust, as their line of grills are widely lauded for their versatility and dependable construction. But these principles do not change from company to company. Car or truck owners will always want a touch of fashion without shoving away additional front-end security. Many grille-shoppers still merit protection over flash if their lifestyles demand consistent contact with potentially harmful elements, but that hasn’t stopped most from finding the style that suits them best.
Improvement for Improvement’s Sake
Automobile manufacturers do place a requisite amount of value to a grille in regards to model design. However, most sedans from domestic marques are often armed with ABS plastic grilles molded or fastened to the front. While ABS plastic is certainly not flimsy and is virtually rust-proof, it is also unquestionably not as durable and long-lasting compared to the stainless steel or high-grade aluminum options that most aftermarket grilles can offer. In many cases, OEM grilles reach a stage where they are inadequate and require heavy maintenance, if not downright replacement. Many drivers eventually find out that they are not as “in love” with their factory grille as much as the entire vehicle, prompting a change. This is where the introduction to the vast world of billet grilles usually commences.
Billet grilles are the bread and butter of aftermarket grilles. The term ‘billet’ refers to the design that normally displays lines crafted from a source of metal. Many times, this features an overlapping of horizontal and vertical lines for added aesthetic value and durability. Billet grilles can be constructed out of aluminum, stainless steel, and of course, ABS plastic. Aluminum is the most common material used due to its cost-effectiveness, underestimated durability, and propensity to shine. Stainless steel on the other hand, is the most popular material. A host of grille manufacturers offer stainless steel versions coated in chrome or with chrome-plating, allowing the grille to possess a high-gloss appeal that is also nearly impenetrable.
Mesh is another kind of grille design that is also quite prevalent. Mesh grills are often a preferred choice due to their departure in style from the more common billet milieu. The mesh design is just that- mesh. It is similar to billet in that it features straight lines. The difference is that with mesh grilles, the lines intersect at a 45 degree angle, as opposed to the more uniform right-angles that billet grilles demonstrate. Upper-echelon companies boast of “steel-woven” mesh, and by and large is the style of the most esteem. Truck grills can be seen more and more sporting a glittering yet fortified mesh design begging for attention. But drivers are not limited to billet and mesh anymore. Currently, there are a myriad of style patterns for grilles, and are growing increasingly eclectic all the time. Everything from hole-punch to cut-outs of figures, logos, and anything else you can imagine. Although emerging in number, the more radical styles still take a distant second-place to billet and mesh.
Enter the Luxury Zone
With the rebirth of America’s fixation on luxury automobiles, the auto accessory industry acted accordingly, as scores of manufacturers claim to produce grilles that fit this category. While there are undeniably many that do, only a few really stand out the most. Asanti® is without dispute one of the leaders in all luxury automotive accessories. Asanti® grilles are to this industry what Nike is to premier basketball sneakers. Asanti® also produces wheels and rims that command a similar level of kudos, but it’s the Asanti® grills are often the most talked-about. Lexani is another manufacturer that many drivers have become acquainted with. Lexani is very similar to Asanti® in that they both produce high-quality grilles that promote elegance and status, thus marketing their inventory in this light. Precision® represents a desirable combination of elite quality grilles that express versatile style for a wide range of models. And that is the biggest asset the above names have in spades: the ability to transcend the type of consumer. Making it possible for all drivers, whether they own a luxury automobile or not, to be able to upgrade with luxurious grilles and accessories is what has fueled the fire and prompted such a dramatic spike in this arena. No one feels left out, whether they drive a fifteen year old Chevy or a brand-new Mercedes. It is hard to find any product, let alone auto accessory, that holds this kind of power.
Who To Trust When It Comes Time To Purchase
Chances are that if you have a car and a computer, you’ve at least browsed through a few websites where an aftermarket grille is ready and waiting for your index finger on the mouse to give it a “look-see.” Make no mistake about it, there are plenty of places that advertise grilles all over their pages, promising high-quality, express shipping, and custom fitment. Unfortunately, some companies do not have the resources they claim to possess, and often fail to deliver the part in a reasonable amount of time, if at all. This occurs far too frequently, and those looking for the right grille have to be vigilante when searching for one.
If you are looking into finding that special grille that further illustrates your own style and taste, here are a few tips that may help:
1) Get to know your vehicle better. Conduct a fair amount of research to find a few styles and designs that not only match your personality, but also your vehicle’s demeanor.
2) Once you have narrowed down a few selections, envision what the grilles will look like on the front of your car, truck, or SUV. This may sound a bit funny, but it will really help with making a logical and exciting choice.
3) Do NOT settle! A grille is an important addition to your ride. Cheaper is not always better. You need high-quality material that you can rely on. In some cases, it is better to seek a professional point of view and do appropriate research. Once you order your grille, the next step is installation. Installation for an aftermarket grille is not as daunting as you may think. Many grilles come with the components and simple instructions you need to install it yourself, regardless of your automotive expertise. And in many cases, grilles come as overlays which can be inserted right over your original.
The right grill can really lift your vehicle’s spirits. The fun is finding the one that’s right for you! Some grilles offer flashy style, while more refined pieces drip luxury top to bottom. Others offer the rugged protection you need to roll with authority. It all depends on how you view the entire automotive experience. Just remember: your vehicle isn’t just a mode of transportation, it is an extension of who you are and what you’re about. If you’re going to say something with your ride, why not say it with fashion and personality?
Timothy J. Hands is a Writer/Editor for CARiD.com, the fastest-growing automotive accessories store on the net. Take a look at their enormous selection of Billet Grills, Mesh Grilles, and other types of Truck Grills that style up your vehicle with a whole new world of expression!