Selling Custom Grilles

Dec 3, 2009

There’s no better way to make sure a car, truck or SUV is making the best first impression it can than by installing an aftermarket grille.

The front end is the first part most people see of a vehicle. That’s why drivers who want to personalize their rides will look to change it, according to restyling professionals.

Dealers across the nation-and slightly north of the border, as well say installing an aftermarket grille is a quick and easy job, with great profit potential and tons of grins for the customer with a new facelift.

Even someone who already has an aftermarket grille may be interested in an updated version, sources say. Restyling clients are always on the lookout for something new and exciting.

Mesh and billet both hold strong attraction as popular grille styles, and trucks and SUVs are a sure bet-along with modern muscle cars from Dodge and Ford-among popular applications.

There’s apparently no set customer type when it comes to those buying grilles-men and women of all ages and ethnic groups are interested.

If you haven’t checked out some of the latest grilles that are hitting the aftermarket, here are some updates from shops across the continent that are enjoying significant grille sales.

Dan Baron
General manager
Mr. Kustoms

“We’ve been doing this for 30 years. We’re in the heart of Chicago near Wrigley field, and it’s a real hot area for custom vehicles. We have customers from all over Chicago, Wisconsin and Milwaukee. We do a lot of trucks, but also a lot of cars.

“The biggest cars right now seem to be the Chrysler 300, the Mustang and Dodge vehicles like the Charger and Magnum. They are very, very popular right now. As time goes on the market will change, but right now, those are hot for us.

“I think the market for grilles is actually growing. Years ago, the billet grille was the grille that everybody wanted, but now that everybody’s coming out with different styles of grilles and giving people choices, people are getting more excited.

“There are mesh grilles, and grilles that resemble a Rolls Royce. And the cost has come down so people can afford them.

“The more drivers see them on the street and in magazines, the more excited they are to put them on their own vehicle. I think that has the biggest impact on a vehicle, changing the grille. It’s the first thing you see when a car is coming at you.

“Just like window tinting, it’s huge for us. Otherwise, cars all look the same, like you’re in a fishbowl. Those two items-grille and tint-really make a huge difference on a car.

“Mesh is not the hottest grille style, but it’s something that’s really turned around the market. The popularity all depends-right now there are the diamond wire grilles and the Rolls Royce look and vertical grilles, and importers are coming up with different designs.

“People want to be different, so the more that one grille is selling, when something new comes out, everybody wants the new one. People who bought a grille two years ago might come back for a different style. People want to be different; they want to be unique.

“I couldn’t really put grille buyers in any category. We have people who come in who are so diverse. They’re from all different races, and we get people from all over the region. It’s amazing the people who come in, and they all have their own ideas.

“When we build a vehicle it’s almost like art. People come in and express what they want their vehicle to look like, and we do it for them.”

Chad Hartle
Sales and accessory manager
Curtis Custom Wheels
Abbotsford, B.C.

“We sell a lot of truck [grilles], mostly for Ford, Chevy and Dodge pickups. We’ve noticed a lot more dealerships are stepping up to buy them now; they include the price into the lease when the customer buys the vehicle.

“Grille styles have changed. It used to be all billet, but now the wire mesh is slowly coming into style. Grilles are definitely more popular; the end user doesn’t like the factory grille it comes with, and when they see how easy it is to put on an aftermarket grille, they spend the extra money to put it on. It is a very strong product.

“We also sell wheels, so if a dealership puts on the grille on the lot, the customer sees that and wants to put wheels on, too. It’s a great up-sell for other things. People also want to lower the vehicle and put an exhaust on it’-usually when they put wheels on it, they also want to lower it and add the exhaust, window tint and a billet grille.

“As far as who’s buying, usually it’s both-it’s a mix of the younger crowd and older crowd. Most of them like their cars, and they don’t like driving a stock vehicle. They have class and want something that looks good.

“We see a lot of trucks. We see quite a few cars, but it’s mostly trucks. Most of the trucks are lifted, and have aftermarket wheels and a billet grille.”

Manny de Encio
Project manager
714 Motorsports
Westminster, Calif.

“[Grilles] are one of our top three products. A grille just adds an extra touch and personalizes the car a little more-dresses up the front of the vehicle. We probably sell 500 or more per year.

“I would say the most popular grille style today is the Bentley-style mesh grille. Those are hot sellers right now.

“As far as the types of vehicles we see, all of the GM trucks and SUVs are very popular to restyle with a custom grille. Of course, the Escalade and the Range Rover-those would be probably the ones on top of my list.

“Usually, customers do more than just a grille. The grille starts it off, and then there’s a wheel and tire packages, then the audio and video and iPod integration. Bluetooth is a growing thing right now; it’s huge.

“The people who buy aftermarket grilles are really all across the board. We get kids still in high school all the way up to owners of big corporations. The restyling industry is continuing to grow. It’s all about personalizing the car so it doesn’t look like all the other cars in the parking lot. It’s a way to make theirs stand out.”

Dino Stavrinos
Speed and Truck World
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“I’d say we go through at least 500 [grilles] per year. Grilles actually became a little more popular when the Dodge Magnum and Charger came out, and the Chrysler 300.

“After they add a grille, a lot of people add accents to the pillar posts, and things like side vents, chrome door handles and mirror covers. The grille really leads to additional add-ons.

“On some vehicles, like the Magnum, drivers are going for the mesh grille. On trucks, people are still going for billet grilles. Right now, for us it’s about 50/50 cars and trucks.

“I’ve got all different types of people who buy all different types of grilles. They can spend anywhere from $200 right on up to I think the most expensive one is $12,000.

“I hope the market stays strong, and I think it will. As long as the manufacturers don’t start putting them on, we’re in good shape.”