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Submitted by Tinkerbell too



So, this started as a simple way to tone down the overall brightness of the billet in the front grilles. We finally got the black chrome rims we wanted. This lead to light smoked headlights that looked like black chrome. Now in comparison, the polished billet was just way too bright for the car.

As with everything else, there is no source for black billet grilles, so this was going to be another do it yourself project. I called around to see what I could find in aftermarket chroming. Could anyone actually black chrome? Well it was way too pricey and way too hard to find someone who could do it. Definitely no one local.

So then the idea was to get it powder coated with transparent black. As I called around, I found most said they did not do it. The ones that did, said it would not match true black chrome, it was more green and sometimes even blue. They suggested transparent black paint. I called my local paint vendor. I told him I was told to see if he could tint some clear with black to make transparent black. He said anything he had or could mix would end up cloudy. So it was back to looking.

I looked online for transparent black paint. I found some spray paints. I knew about Niteshade for tail ights. Testors had a version they made for painting window tint on models. Then I happened upon Duplicolors new product... black chrome paint. Its called shadow. I was not sure what would work best.


I decided to do a test of everything I could find. I tried NiteShades, Duplicolors transparent smoke anodizing, and Duplicolor's Shadow paint. I did not want to chance anything on my parts. Best thing I had to mimic chrome/polished finish was a mirror that was broken into pieces. I used a different piece to test each. The idea was to see which one looked the most "black chrome".

Duplicolor's Anodized smoke: I had high hopes for this. I had used their red anodized transparent red and loved it. I worked wonders on some yellow rear marker lights I wanted red. The red dried perfectly clear, just tinted red. Well this was not the case with the smoke. It muddied up horribly. The clouding was so thick you could not pick up any reflectivity. Definitely no where near black chrome!

VHT Night Shades (transparent black): I had bought this long ago. I was toying with some ideas, but never used it. I did however use their red anodized paint on another set of tail lights and on a set of rotors. The transparency was amazing! Well the night shades spayed on VERY spotty and uneven. In an attempt to even it out I sprayed a bit more... Not a good decision... the mirror blacked out to the point of pure black paint. Tells me be careful when you tint your lights!

Here is a shot showing how the mirrors reflectivity was lost..

Testors Transparent black: Ok I'm gonna be honest here. We did not find it in our local Wal-Mart like I had hoped. So it meant Hobby Lobby or Michaels. None near no test on the Testors. I went based on my experience with their transparent candy red. This was what I had used when I was first attempting to fix some amber red lights. It was awful. Very cloudy and it did not like to be clear coated. It would darken horribly over time. I had also used it on some engine pieces and later replaced them with ones panted with the VHT Anodized red paint. So I figured why waste the money.

Duplicolor's Shadow: Shadow won hands down. It is a two step kit. the black tint followed by their included clear. Not sure if there is anything special about that clear over any other clear coat. It still allowed the mirror to be reflective & shiny looking, just tinted darker. It was the closest you were gonna get without tint. This is the one we went with. Read down to see us use it!

My only disappointment... I would not recommend it for a large areas. It seems to spit and does not lay even, but for a simple billet tone down... PERFECT! If the spray paint would just lay more evenly, it might really work for some cool applications.

Here is a shot showing it reflecting my fingers.... pay special attention to the tips (enlarge pic) where you can see the uneven (orange peel like) finish...

Everyone together to show I was not manipulating the picture taking to make one better then the other...




It definitely gives the car a more aggressive look! Now the info on how we did it...


You do NOT sand the part. It must stay perfectly reflective for the effect of chrome to remain. You simply clean it well with alcohol and paint prep. The first shot of the paint is VERY light and works as a bonding coat. When spraying our hood grille, I left the grille installed. I had too hard of a time getting this grille on. So rather then remove the whole hood scoop and chance screwing up our paint, it was a paint in place project! I taped the car up and draped it well to prevent any over spray. Since the paint was a rattle can paint, the drift is not too bad.

Pay no attention to the Pontiac banner or the Fiero in the background :lol

Here you see the grille with and without the flash. The flash shot clearly shows the grille has retained it's reflectivity even with the tint.

I had to be careful to get just enough. Too much and it could go black or be too dark to match the rims. A quick headlight match up on the left. The headlights were darn close to the black chrome rims. The picture is deceiving. The light was reflecting off the headlight more then the grille. The bottom picture is showing the billet is still shiny and reflective like it was originally.

Here is a shot of the tape we masked the car with. This piece was directly against the grille as we sprayed the black chrome paint. It's overspray should show you just how little paint you actually spray. A little goes a long way!

All unveiled! Again, the idea is to tint the metal, not to lay it on so thick that it goes black and loses reflectivity.


The upper & lower grilles were easy to take out and paint out of the car.

Again, clean with alcohol or paint prep... NO sanding. Very light first coat for bonding... then just a light tinting to match the black chrome. A little goes a long way! I did not tape the grille up to protect the black paint on the top sides of the bars. I figured it was too much work for paint that would not show up on the black anyway.

Back installed on the Stang and in the sun!

Nice shot with the headlight...

Another with the pony...

Chrome polished front versus painted and black chrome...

Again, the Shadow tint still allows for the reflective nature of the metal to remain... simulating black chrome...

All 3 together...

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