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Old 11-13-2013, 06:25 PM   #1
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Default Like to improve van front appearance

My van has the basic GMC cargo van front and it looks dated now.

Base cargo van front (square lights, painted bumper)


The base Chevy front would be an improvement:


and the dressed up front with chrome trim and plastic capped/chrome split front bumper would look even better:


I might not get around to doing this upgrade but figured I'd post the idea anyway.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg gmc plain front.jpg (12.6 KB, 2163 views)
File Type: jpg chevy plain front.jpg (29.7 KB, 2161 views)
File Type: jpg gmc dressed up front.jpg (23.4 KB, 2162 views)
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Old 11-13-2013, 08:11 PM   #2
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Default Re: Like to improve van front appearance

Great idea Marko, I too have been looking at "something" to dress up my Dodge front end. I am not a fan of the factory grill look and have looked at many inserts to replace it, but have found nothing that I have liked. I do have a friend that is a fabricator/welder that may be available. I have also looked at different lower front spoilers that attach to the bottom of the bumper but haven't found a source yet. And yet another idea is a bug guard painted white to help out the look. So many ideas and all winter to "worry" about them! Good luck to you.
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Old 11-14-2013, 02:54 AM   #3
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Default Re: Like to improve van front appearance

Now you guys are talking... I am an old Minnesota hippie. My first van, "The Padded Cell", was a 68 Chev with Micky Thompson 15" L 50s on the back, 14" G 60s on the front and a big mural on the sides depiction a guy in strips behind bars...... Sorry, just going down memory lane. Anyway, I did most of my own custom work back then and one of the hot items was front grills and trim made of wood and brass. I did a '74 van with wood rocker panels, wood bumpers, wood grill with brass tubes and a wooden bi wing air foil on the roof. The grill and trim was a lot of fun. Wound up doing a few of them for others. You guys got me thinking of how a truly custom grill would look on the B. I need to look for some pictures of the old vans now............
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Old 11-14-2013, 03:31 AM   #4
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Default Re: Like to improve van front appearance



Just found this pic online...

OK, I'll take my Jello and got back to my room now.....
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Old 11-15-2013, 06:26 PM   #5
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Default Re: Like to improve van front appearance

This is just some strange idea off the top of my head, but I wonder if one could use a 3D printer and "print" out a decent grille in sections which would be glued/plastic welded together for final assembly. Of course, a CNC machine and an aluminum billet could do the trick as well. The cool thing about aluminum is that one can anodize it, perhaps black, then engrave it to have parts stand out.
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Old 01-28-2014, 01:44 AM   #6
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Default Re: Like to improve van front appearance

One really easy DIY way to spruce up the front of a van is to apply the 3M wrap (available in several designs, we used "Carbon Fiber" in black)... Here is a shot of the hood and also the emblem wrapped:


As a PS...you should do this with three ppl...my wife and i did it alone and well, it was quite the project! We needed two extra hands at times.

The other thing we did was put on a weathertech deflector (it really cuts down on bugs on the hood!) and added a few decals of our favorite sites, PLUS we swapped out the stock 5" x 7" bulbs with Truck Lite LEDs... they are AMAZING!!! Here is a close up:



(and a link to a close up of the LED headlights)

Happy Trails,
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Old 01-28-2014, 03:34 PM   #7
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Default Re: Like to improve van front appearance

Thanks for all the info. Are your LED head lamps the "Truck Lite" brand?

How well is the 3M wrap holding up? Do you think it could be used on parts of the plastic grill? The factory finish on the grill surrounding around my van's headlights is showing wear and tear.

That 3M wrap might look nice on my van's running boards also.... lots to think about.
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Old 01-28-2014, 09:08 PM   #8
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Default Re: Like to improve van front appearance

Greetings. Yes the head lights are the drop in replacement 5" x 7" LED lamps by Truck Lite. You should be able to find them online from ~$180 ish up?? per bulb.

On the wrap. Well three years in and it does appear to be showing some age/exposure related signs IMO. It takes using cleaning products such as the "Black" cleaner(s). Don't know the exact name, it is the stuff you might also apply to tires to shine them up. That seems to do the trick for a few weeks, then clean and reapply. The instructions state that you should remove after about three years and reapply... i really didn't think that would be necessary...but looking at it three years after and there could be some truth to the life-span.

We applied it to the chevy grill emblem, and i thought about doing the headlight housing area, i do think it would apply/wear just fine in that area. The emblem shows no sign of wear and the bugs of course splat on it all the time. We just wash it off and it looks new.

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Old 01-31-2014, 11:40 PM   #9
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Default Re: Like to improve van front appearance

Lipstick on a pig.My first fullsize van was a 95 Dodge.I wanted a Chevy Astro or GMC but my wife said they were ugly.I told my wife "It's a van.They are all ugly ".She won.I bought a Dodge.the beauty is on the inside.I like Accrete's van but mostly for the AWD and clever interior which he needs to show everyone here.Hint,Hint
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Old 02-01-2014, 02:18 PM   #10
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Default Re: Like to improve van front appearance

new topic - Accrete's AWD Chevy Van project - here: http://www.classbforum.com/phpBB2/vi...hp?f=12&t=2942
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Old 02-01-2014, 07:43 PM   #11
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Default Re: Like to improve van front appearance

Thanks Mark! I will spend some time sprucing up that thread you started for me. Much appreciated
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Old 02-27-2014, 02:13 PM   #12
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Default Re: Like to improve van front appearance

I'm getting started on this but have to wait for warmer weather to do the installs.

I bought a AVS Bugflector II Stone/Bug Deflector for the hood. The shop had one for the '96 to '02 Express/Savana vans in stock



Next will be to order the 3M Di-noc carbon fiber wrap for the front bumper and parts of the shroud. I think I'll go with the graphite color.



I'm trying to pick some decals to improve the very plain look of the roof over the windshield. I found some that are light gray and dark gray with the white background not yellowish as shown below in my MS Paint mockup.





Some people want their van to look less like an RV ............ I want to make mine look MORE like an RV
Attached Images
File Type: jpeg bugflector.jpeg (1.4 KB, 691 views)
File Type: jpg no decals.JPG (45.2 KB, 683 views)
File Type: jpg add decals.JPG (50.4 KB, 684 views)
File Type: jpg 3M Di-noc.jpg (27.9 KB, 691 views)
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Old 02-27-2014, 03:40 PM   #13
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Default Re: Like to improve van front appearance

I like the graphics, it looks a little like an "Angry Birds" thing.

It will be interesting to see how the bug deflector works. As was in a previous discussion, we found our Lund deflector to slightly improve steering response (more front downforce?), and also it appeared to decrease mileage by .5-1.0 mpg, but that is a real tough one to analyze and be sure of without many thousands of miles with it on and off.
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Old 09-07-2014, 10:15 PM   #14
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Default Re: Like to improve van front appearance

So far so good with the bug deflector. It does a great job of protecting the hood. The windshield gets as dirty as before.



and I put a strip of carbon fiber look wrap across the roof above the windshield to hide the paint chips



Not fantastic (it looks a bit better than the photo shows) but it is an improvement.

I might cut two parallelograms out of the carbon fiber wrap and apply them on either side above the strip for more detail.

I'm still thinking of wrapping the front bumper. Paint might be better.
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File Type: jpg bug deflector.JPG (276.2 KB, 496 views)
File Type: jpg van front.JPG (93.4 KB, 496 views)
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Old 09-08-2014, 06:06 AM   #15
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Default Re: Like to improve van front appearance

How well do you think it sticks? Could you use the wrap on the bug deflector for a similar look?
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Old 09-08-2014, 10:35 PM   #16
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Default Re: Like to improve van front appearance

It sticks well enough that they warn that it will pull off non-automotive finish paint. It really does seem to adhere well.
The advertising shows lots of things being wrapped so I think the bug deflector could be done.
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Old 10-04-2014, 09:33 PM   #17
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Default Re: Like to improve van front appearance

An "unusual" happening today prompted me to bring this back up to see how it all worked out.

We learned today that ACORNS are heavy enough to destroy an Express van hood! Looks like large hail damage after a day in a campsite in NC. The fender tops, right next to the hood, don't show any damage, so the hood must be very soft and thin.

Seeing how easily it dented kind of makes me very reluctant to fix or replace it, as we surely will hit hail or acorns in or future travels. It does look bad, though.

Remembering this discussion, I figured maybe I could just spot putty the dents, prime with epoxy on the putty, and then use the wrap. The texture and pattern should hide imperfections well, so the fill work could be quick and dirty, I would think. If we got damage again, I could just peel it off and fix/wrap it again.

Big question is if this is one of those products that is worth paying 5 times more for the real 3M version? Use the edge primer?
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Old 10-04-2014, 10:06 PM   #18
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Default Re: Like to improve van front appearance

It sucks that it happened ........... I've had small branches land on the roof at night.

accrete would know better than me how well it lasts (profile: memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&u=3203 ) - you could send him a PM. I think he used the 3M wrap.

I didn't use 3M stuff but think I would on a nice van like yours. There's a warning on the wrap I used about it taking non-automotive paint off with it if you have to remove it.

I just saw a 33pc paintless dent repair kit for $260. I have no idea if it would work or not. A lot of the pieces look like they could create a dent in my hands .......... used to repair dents and hail damage it says in the ad.
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