My nephew’s Chrysler Crossfire found its way back to my garage recently, right after a fresh respray. While the original paint job was not terrible, and in general I find the quality of the paint used for the Crossfires to be very good, my nephew’s car had been dinged up. Before purchasing it there was some sort of accident that we couldn’t get a clear history on. In a nutshell, the passenger side front fender and door had been repainted… poorly. While it matched, the paint was dull and full of orange peel. As such, he really did need a paint job.
Since the car was going to go in the paint booth we made a small handful of alterations to clean her up. The door handles were removed so they could be color matched with the body, as well as the windshield trim. My personal choice would have been to make everything red and give it a nice monochromatic look. My nephew though wanted the roof in black (granted it’s not a horrible fad, but a fad just the same). To match the roof we went ahead and painted the fender spears black as well. All in all the car looked pretty hot.
While the car looked great, there was a significant eyesore that we couldn’t ignore. The emblems. The front one was… okay, and the rear one was slightly more cracked. The real killer was the wheel emblems as they were just horrendous. After looking up the cost of replacement emblems, which is rather prohibitive, we decided to cheat a bit. What we went with was a full set of vinyl decal emblems off of the Crossfire Forum (see the link here). I know, I know… not an OEM type of choice. But you know, they look nice and if they can last a couple of years I’ll be more than happy.
The trick to installing these vinyl emblems, or any vinyl for that matter is two-fold. First, cleanliness. The surface you are adhering to must be perfectly clean. Secondly, the installation method. Whenever I’ve done vinyl I’ve gone in one of two ways. You can either line up the vinyl perfectly and roll it on dry making sure to eliminate any bubbles as you roll the material forward. Or you can moisten the area ever so slightly to allow you some wiggle room when installing the vinyl. This second method works particularly well on smaller pieces that might need some adjusting.
Given the size of the emblems being installed, we went with option two. When doing this I like to take a couple extra steps. Aside front installing the vinyl in the shade so that you have more time to work, I also like to use distilled water. My assumption here is that the fewer minerals the water has, the easier it will be to squeegee it out or allow it to evaporate. Speaking of evaporation, a heat gun is very helpful when installing vinyl, but you can make do with a good blow-dryer.
We tackled the center caps first as they can be removed and as such are easier to work with. After a thorough cleaning, a quick spritz of water prepped the area. Since the emblem is small I went ahead and placed the entire piece of vinyl on the center cap. The vinyl is slightly smaller than the original opening, so I took my time and slid it around a bit until I felt comfortable with the location. From there I pressed in the center of the vinyl first and then made my way outward, trying to push out as much water and air bubbles as possible. Once the emblem has been pressed firmly against the center cap you’ll notice that the cap has a slight curve to it. As such the vinyl cannot be installed perfectly flush around the edges.
To eliminate the small rippling effect found around the edge of the vinyl you’ll want to use the heat gun. A word of caution would be to apply the heat sparingly. Just go heating the edge of the vinyl up bit by bit. You’ll see some more water come out from within the emblem and you’ll see the vinyl start to shrink slowly. As the vinyl continues to shrink the ripples will slowly disappear leaving a perfectly flat, flush center cap emblem. Finally, I like to give the entire vinyl piece a quick once-over with the heat gun. This helps to eliminate any water that might have been left behind as well as firmly attaching the vinyl.
That’s essentially the entire process. We followed the same procedure for the remaining wheel caps, the front and rear emblems, and the key fob emblem. We ended up mixing and matching the colors a bit, using silver emblems for the wheels and black emblems for the car. All in all, it looks really good. While I would have preferred pristine brand new factory emblems, at around $40 it did the trick.
Since we did this mod I was able to find a different company (beststickers.net) that produces “3D domed” resin emblems which look cool. I’ve used resin emblems before on my GTO and they not only look the part, they’ve lasted 12-years and going. If any issues pop up with the current vinyl emblems we’ll go ahead and order the resin ones. (Those look so nice I’m kinda hoping we do get an excuse to change them! 😉 )
Installing vinyl anything can be a little tricky at first, so I like to get an extra piece to play with. Overall though this was very straight forward and a nice little visual touch for only a couple of bucks.
Useful Parts & Tools to Help you with this DIY Project: