Car Grilles


Grilles on automobiles have taken on different designs through the years. This feature first appeared on automobiles in 1903. Several years later, the arch-shaped design became common and became the standard design on automobile grilles for many years. The “split” grille design first appeared in 1923 on the Alfa Romeo sports car. In the 1930s and 1940s, automobile manufacturers became creative with their grille designs. Some of these designs were bell-shaped (Buick, Chevrolet, and Pontiac), split and slightly folded (Silver Arrow, Mercury, 1946 Oldsmobile), cross-shaped (pre-war Studebaker Champion models, 1941 Cadillac, 1942 Ford), while some including Packard, Rolls-Royce, and MG-TC models still followed the older arch-shaped design.  Grilles took on a new look after World War II. Following the introduction of the 1947 Buick, Studebaker, and Kaiser, grilles became shorter and wider to accommodate for the change in design.

A grille or grill is a French word from Latin craticula or meaning a small grill defined as an opening of several slits side by side in a wall or metal sheet or other barrier, usually to let air or water enter and/or leave but keep larger objects including people and animals in or out. Here in the United States, “grille” is used to differentiate the automotive part from the cooking device, called a “grill”.  In automotive engineering, a grille covers an opening in the body of a vehicle to allow air to enter. Most vehicles feature a grille at the front of the vehicle to protect the radiator and engine. Other common grille locations include below the front bumper, in front of the wheels (to cool the brakes), in the cowl for cabin ventilation, or on the rear deck lid (in rear engine vehicles).

The grille is often a distinctive styling element, and many marques use it as their primary brand identifier. For example, Jeep has trademarked its seven-bar grille style.  Rolls-Royce is famous for arranging its grille bars by hand to ensure that they appear perfectly vertical. Other makers known for their grille styling include Bugatti’s horse-collar, BMW’s split kidney, Rover’s chrome “teeth”, Mitsubishi’s forward swept in other words, the grille has been use as a ‘signature’ but some car lovers opt to have customize grilles instead.  A billet grille is an aftermarket part that is used to enhance the style or function of the original OEM grille. They are generally made from solid bar stock aircraft-grade aluminum, although some are CNC machined from one solid sheet of aluminum.  Customizers would alter the grille as a matter of course in personalizing their car, taking the grille bar from another make, for example. Even sheet metal with patterned holes for ventilation grating sold to homeowners for repair has been found filling the grille opening of custom cars.

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