Blacked-out and Color-matched Emblems

I decided that the chrome emblems didn't really match the rest of the car. While I didn't want to change all the badging to black, I did want to do a little blacking out and color matching.

I started with the front emblem. This was easy to remove. There are three clips on the inside of the front grill that allow the thing to just pop out. Once the embem has been removed from the grill, you can remove the chrome parts by unclipping them from the back of the front emblem. I didn't photograph this since I was in a rush that day. It is very easy to remove the emblem and dismantle it. Once the front emblem is apart, you can follow the same painting steps as I did for the rear emblem and then clip it all back together and re-install it in the grill.

The rear emblem is a little more difficult, but by no means is this a hard mod to complete. The rear emblem is stuck on with double stick tape. If it isn't a hot day when you do this, you might want to use a heat gun to warm up the adhesive on the double stick tape. You can then take 10 pound test fishing line and slide it behind the emblem like dental floss. If your emblem has been on for many years, you can peel up the rubber edging a little and spray some bug/tar/adhesive remover behind the emblem. This will start the unsticking process. The emblem will come right off. It was 95 degrees out the day I removed the emblem and I just peeled mine off without any fishing line or adhesive remover. Remove the rest of the double stick tape with your fingers and then clean the area with the bug/tar/adhesive remover. You can find that at any auto parts store in with the wax and carwash stuff.


Here's what the rear emblem looks like when it is removed.

The chrome part is melt riveted to the black backing. You can see that I have drilled out the melt rivets with a 1/4" drill bit. The one on the right side hasn't been drilled yet. Use very little pressure when you drill, the plastic is pretty soft. It doesn't take a lot for the pin on the chrome part to just pop out. You'll see it when you do drill a little.

Here are the two pieces seperated. I started sanding them with 220 grit sand paper to scuff them up. I then went to 400 grit, then 600 grit and then wet sanded them a little to make sure they were perfectly smooth. I left the rubber ring around the black part since it looked like it would be very difficult to remove and get back on correctly. When it came to painting, I masked off the edge of the rubber. You'll see that below.

Prepped and ready to paint. I cleaned each part with isopropyl alcohol to get rid of any oils on the plastic. That will help the paint stick. I then started with 4 coats of automotive spray primer. I used krylon from a can. I wet snded each part with 600 grit sand paper between coats to get it smooth. I wiped each part with isopropyl alcohol before each coat to make sure they were clean and free of oil and grit.

This is gracie in the spaghetti pot. While this has nothing to do with coloring the emblems, it is kind-of cute and by this time you should take a break and let the paint set-up a little. I let the primer coats cure for 24 hours before I started the color coats.

I did 4 coats of color on each part. For the backing, I used the spray VW touch-up paint. While it isn't a 100% perfect match to the OEM paint on the car, it is really close. I used the clearcoat on the back part of the emblem too. I wet sanded after the first three coats, then let the other coats dry without sanding. They were very smooth since I'd done my prep work well. If you touch the emblem with your fingers before painting, you must wipe it down with isopropyl alcohol. You can see that I've removed the masking above. For the black, I did 4 coats of krylon gloss black. I wet sanded the first three. I used krylon clear coat since the VW paint is not compatable with krylon and will attack the paint and cause it to bubble.

Here's the finished product

I then used 5 minute epoxy to re-assemble the melt rivets. This worked perfectly and was easy to do. I let it cure for the full 4 hours before sticking the emblem back on.

This is the adhesive I used to install the emblem again. I wanted something a bit stronger than the OEM double stick tape. I cleaned the back of the emblem with isopropyl alcohol so that it would take the adhesive better.

This is the fully prepped spot where the emblem goes on the back. I cleaned off all the adhesive with bug/tar/adhesive remover. Once that is done, you need to clean the area with isopropyl alcohol since the bug/tar/adhesive remover is a petrolium distilate and will not help the emblem glue stick. There needs to be no wax, oil, dirt or anything but paint where the emblem will stick.

I followed the instructions on the 3m adhesive. Since the emblem is vertical, I held it in place for 10 minutes, then taped it with 3m masking tape. Don't use cheap stuff, the adhesive will come off on your paint and you'll have the fun of cleaning that off. I let it stay like this while the adhesive cured. It takes about 30 minutes. That emblem adhesive is REALLY tough stuff. It shouldn't come off unless you use 3m adhesive remover.

Here's the final product

and another view.

Same photo with measurements.

Front Emblem:

Please pardon the photos. These were taken when I took the emblem out to refresh the paint. My front emblem is already black with a Imola Yellow backing. I did a road trip through the desert and that chipped the paint on the embem. I spent 6 weeks in the desert, so it isn't surpising that it didn't hold up. I'm going to clear coat the second round and see if that works better. Sometimes thicker paint jobs chip easier. We'll see.

Remove your front grill from the car. There is one pop fitting on the right and left side, and a third one in the middle (right in front of the hood latch) Gently pull the grill forward (toward the front of the car) at the right and left side. I then stick a small flathead screwdriver in the groove where the pop fitting is to release it. The grill will come right off.

Left Pop Fitting

Right Pop Fitting

Center Pop Fitting

There are 3 hooked tabs that hold the emblem into the grill. As you look at the back of the grill. One is at the top (12 o'clock), one is at 4 o'clock and one is at 7 o'clock. For me the one at the top is the easiest to remove. It wants to come off all by itself. I start with that one. I use a small flathead screwdriver wrapped with masking tape to pry it gently open. I then move on to the other two tabs. The emblem will just fall right out of the front.

This is the back of the emblem.

Hook at 12 O'clock

Hook at 4 O'clock

Hook at 7 O'clock

Now comes the hard part.... maybe. I wanted to color match the backing and then black out the VW emblem. It is hard to separate the silver emblem from the backing. There are six small clips around the back of the VW front that hold it to the black backing. I used needle nose pliers to squeeze these gently and release them. When all the outer tabs are released, the middle one just pops out. Don't worry if you break a tab or two, you can use a hot glue gun or epoxy to glue it back together when you're done painting.

This is the back of my enblem. You can see the 4 holes for the clips at the top, two at the bottom and one in the middle.

This is the back of the silver part of the emblem.

This may be a better view of the back of the silver part of the emblem.

Once the emblem is apart, the hard work is done. You sand and prep the emblems as you did the rear emblem. I spend a lot of time sanding and getting everything scuffed and smooth so the paint sticks very well. Sanding the backing was hard because there are so many small, narrow areas. I just cut 3/4" strips of sand paper and threaded them through to sand down everything.

One tip that I have when working with anything that you're painting is to wear latex gloves while you do all of this. The oil on your skin will make it so that paint doesn't want to stick. Even if you clean the thing you're painting really well, you'll still have some oil on there. Do yourself a favor and just wear the gloves. They cost $10 a box at the auto parts store. I get the ones that have grippers on them so I can use them for working on the motor too.

Once it is all sanded, I wash the emblems very well and dry them off with a lint-free cloth. I have a few microfiber clothes that I have retired from waxing duty that work well. I then wipe them down with alcohol to make sure that they've got absolutely nothing on them that will make the paint not stick.

At that point I am ready to paint. Start with really thin coats... especially on the backing. It is hard to get paint deep into those holes. I used an airbrush instead of a spray can to get it right. That made it easier, but it isn't absolutely necessary. I did three thin coats of paint with about two hours of drying between. I then let it sit over night to really dry. I then wet sanded the front emblem with 600 grit sand paper to get it perfectly smooth. I cleaned it a second time and then did two more thin coats. At that point mine was perfectly shiny. If you used a spray can, you might have a tiny bit of texture. That is okay. I'd wet sand it with 600 grit then 1000 grit sand paper and then buff it with some car wax. It will shine up nicely.

Eblem painted and not assembled yet.

Reassembly is easy. Just put it all back together the way it came apart. They go drive around and enjoy the look of your new emblems.

Here it is installed on the car.


If you've got any questions, drop me an e-mail.

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