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1934 Cadillac 355D Sedan Radiator Grille Re-Manufacture

Started by David Matousek, September 27, 2022, 11:59:53 PM

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David Matousek

I'm an independent fabrication engineer and CNC machinist doing work at a high-quality pre-WWII classic car restoration shop Castle Rock, Colorado. My role is to repair, engineer and re-manufacture parts that are either unavailable, excessively expensive to purchase or available but often in worse condition than the part we're trying to replace.

One of my current projects, which I thought this forum might be interested in, is the re-manufacturing of the upper and lower radiator grille sections for a 1934 Cadillac 355D V8 Series 10 4-Door Sedan. Besides being heavily rusted and corroded the grille took a catastrophic blow to the lower curved grille section breaking the original single casted pot metal frame into several pieces. If it wasn't for the curved spars, holding those broken pieces together, I would have had far less of the original casting to work with to re-engineer it. The original grille was primarily fabricated from sheet metal stampings, chromed then requiring a fair amount of labor to complete the assembly. Disassembly of the upper vertical grille is very difficult and even if I did disassemble it a quote from our chrome plater would have been $50 per spar (grille has 56 straight upper and 46 lower curved spars), due to the heavy rust and corrosion. So instead of going the chrome plating route I'm fabricating and welding, where necessary, the pieces for the entire grille using polished 303/304 stainless steel. I fabricated a fixture to hold what was still present from the original grille as well as adding features to the fixture to support where there were missing pieces.

For reference I've attached a few photos of where I started and the progress I've made so far. I plan to update this post periodically as I progress to a completed grille assembly. Please post a reply if you have any questions or comments.

I do have one question for the forum. I've seen a number of photos of 1934 Cadillac 355D models and have seen grilles that have the lower individual chromed curved spar assembly, like the one I'm fabricating, and others that have a formed curved sheet metal panel in its place, painted the body color. Were both types available in 1934 or is the sheet metal panel the results of a damaged unsalvageable lower grille assembly fabricated during a restoration? It's easy to see why this assembly didn't survive long, as it hangs lower than the bumper putting it in harm's way of high curbs or parking stop blocks.

David Matousek

Attaching photos


Wow!  I have a '35, same grille, fortunately my grille is in good shape.  Do not think I would ever want to attempt its disassembly and reconstruction.  Beautiful work.
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