Custom grilles are touchy things since you're dealing with the "face" of the car. There's really very little middle ground on them—they either work to improve the look of the car, or they just feel out of place and distract from the rest of the car. When a custom grille misses the mark, it can be worse than having fugly wheels.
The familiar pseudo-custom horizontal bar billet grilles found on everything from classic cars to modern trucks are usually safe. They're unobtrusive and flow with a wide variety of body lines since many factory grilles also have a horizontal bias. Speed mesh, likewise, has become popular on modern performance cars, and can work too if carefully applied. But neither of those gels with the character of a 1967-68 Cougar with its vertical bar hideaway grille. It's one of the most distinctive and memorable things about the car.
The Cougar grille is cool as-is, and it's actually one of our favorite parts of the car, but other than style it's also known for two things: being extremely difficult to adjust the headlight doors to align with the center, and the unreliable vacuum mechanism. Oh, and the assembly is quite heavy and in the worst place possible place for extra weight. We know we're treading on polarized ground here by altering the Cougar grille, but since Max Effect is function first with style following suit, we needed to address that issue without sacrificing its identity. That's the key there—it still has to look right on the front end.
That's where Wes Adkins (or Wild Wes, as he's known) of Wild Wes Paintworks comes in. We first met Adkins at the 2013 Goodguys Columbus event with his own Cougar project in bare metal at the TorqStorm Supercharger booth. It's an extremely slick, subtly modified car that we promise you'll see more of in PHR once it's finished, but the one mod that really caught our attention was the custom grille. Using individual stainless pieces, Adkins constructed a grille that not only addressed all of our issues, but also looked slick and absolutely appropriate on a Cougar. We were sold and convinced Adkins that Max Effort needed one as well. Here's how it happened, and yes, Adkins can build you one that fits a stock Cougar, or invent something different to perform a "face-lift" for pretty much any car out there.