Finding, then mounting, a correct front grille for our 1965 Corvette

As original as our 1965 Corvette was, it did not have the correct grille. Along the way, most likely during a minor shunt in the late ’70s, we’re guessing, the grille had been replaced with one from a 1963 or 1964 Corvette.

Why go with the earlier one? This was an autocross car, so maybe the previous owner was trying to save some weight as the earlier grilles were significantly lighter.

Whatever the reason, we wanted to fix this. Then add in the fact that this incorrect grille was improperly installed so it was flapping around a bit.

We are finding C2 Corvette parts in an unlikely place: Facebook Marketplace. We found a very serviceable grille an hour away for $200 plus another $20 for the two mounting brackets.

A new one would have set us back close to $1000. Plus, once you start putting brand-new parts on an older, original car, they will stick out. We’re pretty sure we can get $200 for our incorrect grille, so we listed it on Marketplace.

Upon referring to our NCRS restoration manual, we realized that the center of a 1965 Corvette grille should be painted black and surrounded by a bright ring.

[What if the factory could tell you how to restore its cars?]

After cleaning the grille and painting it with Eastwood Chassis Black paint, we started to mount it–and that’s where we found out that the 1965 Corvette uses different center bumper brackets than the earlier ones that someone fitted to our car when replacing the grille.

After doing a bit of research, we learned that there are six brackets that hold a C2 Corvette bumper onto the chassis. There are lower brackets that reach under the frame, outer brackets that attach to the outside of the fender, and then two inner, upper, center brackets that go from the frame rail through the grille to the inner side of the bumpers.

While the rest of the bumper brackets fit all C2 Corvettes from 1963-’67, these inner, upper center brackets are particular to either 1963-’64 or 1965-’67 Corvettes.

Fortunately, almost every Corvette parts supplier stocks these brackets, so we had them for about $130 per pair in less than a week.

So, with a few hours of work, and research, and about $400, including the center support rod that the later-style grille also uses, we had the front end of our Corvette cleaned up and sporting the correct grille.

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6/11/24 10:51 a.m.
Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher Emeritus
6/11/24 12:32 p.m.

Let me check on that. It sure looks like the grille in the NCRS manual. 

tstohner New Reader
6/17/24 4:33 p.m.

Not to beat a dead horse but see photo 29 of 132 for the correct '65 Vette grille:


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