March 17, 2001
When I installed my personal license plate, I noticed that the huge plastic backing plate was loose, where it was attached to the long body-colored panel. Upon closer inspection, I saw the the "rivets" were loose.
It was pretty easy to pop off this long body color panel. It's a very flexible soft plastic panel. It's held in place by hook tabs on the bottom. This is where I started to remove it. It simply "popped" off.
Start at one end, get a small flat-bladed scredriver, and find thes tabs.
From underneath, push up *hard*, but not *fast* at this tab location.
It will pop out.
You can work your fingers under this piece of plastic, but don't be too hasty about "popping" them all out at once.
You could break off one or more of these tabs.
When you put it back one, put it in from the top, lining up all the tabs in the top slots, them push in hard at the tabs on the bottom.
They pop back into place.
You will be amazed at how flexible this panel is.
Well, they weren't really rivets. They were simply stuck into the holes, or drilled in place. There was nothing holding these "rivets" in place, behind the valence panel. Sorry, this is not very clear, but you get the idea.
I found a sheet of 3/16 aluminum, at an electronics surplus place, that had been used for some type of fixture base. It had a series of drilled and tapped holes in it, but I thought I could adapt it for my use. I used a 'Sawzall', to cut out the basic shape, and a belt sander, and random orbit sander to finish the panel. Aluminum has many characteristics of wood, it has a grain, and it can be relatively easliy manipulated using standard home shop tools. I drilled holes for the back mounting panel, and tapped them for #12-20 screws. I drilled and tapped the license plate mounting holes for M6 socket head cap screws. I sprayed it flat black, and baked it at 200 degrees, in the home oven for 20 minutes. Then I sprayed it Desert Green, baked it again. This is the result. Some of the holes on the top will be covered by the license plate.
This shows the aluminum plate mounted to the body colored insert panel.
A shot from the rear.
Next, I installed the license plate, a clear plastic cover, and my aluminum frame over the top. I used stainless steel socket head cap screws to complete the install.
A close-up of the screws.
It was then pretty easy to mount the whole assembly back on the car. The top of the long body color panel slips in and pushs up into the slots on the front facia panel. This is the top of the panel.
The bottom of the panel has to be popped into place, pushing on the outer lip where these tabs are located along the bottom of the body color panel. I had to use a flat bladed screwdiver to help the last 2 in place.
Here is the result, mounted on the car.It's an over-all much cleaner look.