Ah, the joy of cutting into a vehicle that isn't yours.  I finally convinced one of the actual Jeep owners in our outfit (Jared), to allow me to desecrate their perfectly good Jeep hood.  There are plenty of things you can do to make a Jeep look more aggressive, large knobby tires, black rims, big scary bumpers, and all kinds of body armor to name a few.  But there's something about hood vents that adds a certain bad aceness to the look of a hood.  Grand Cherokees, for a time, were even offered with a trim package that included custom hood louvers.  Many other Jeepers have customized their hoods as well, with other vent styles borrowed from various vehicles, Pontiac GTP's for instance.  Wanting to do the same thing but still remain original, we looked around at many different kinds of vents that were out there.

While looking, we included in our search, vents that may have never been intended for hood placement, like the Land Rover style side vents.  That's when we saw how the H2 vents looked and decided we would try to make them work for our application.  Not wanting to spend too much money we checked Ebay, but found mostly only billet ones going for upwards of $200.  However, we found one set of stock plastic ones for $9 and went with them because we still didn't know if we could even make them work.

When they arrived, it turned out that they indeed need some modification because they were curved along one side and in one other spot.  We figured since they were made of hard plastic, all it would take was some heat and pressure and we could flatten then out to suit our needs.  So not wanting to give up, we made a way too overly intricate wooden jig that we could fit the vent in and then cook in the oven, tightening it down all the while.  I know the homemade press looks totally ghetto, but we managed to make it with what we had laying around instead of going out and buying things.  As a bonus, now whenever we cook something in the oven it has a nice wood kilned aroma.

Well after cooking the vents at 320, we were able to tighten down all the butterfly screws as far as they would go.  After letting them cool for a good hour, we removed the vents to find the mounting area perfectly flat just the way we had wanted.  Oh, and the jig worked for both vents, we just flipped the 2 sides and inserted the bolts the opposite way.

It was finally time to get down to the destruction part of the job.  Jared decided to opt out of the surgery and turned over the keys, and possibly, he warned, the title to his baby.  I decided to employ the help and eyes of our good friend Steve for the job.  We made a cutting template and then began the toughest part of the job, the measuring.  We spent so much more time surveying than we did cutting, wanting to make sure of no unforeseen problems.  We began with laying down some tape to protect the paint and to make marking our lines easier.  We measured from a bunch of different points on his Jeep, and every time one of us measured, the other measured again.  After we thought we had the cut lines laid perfectly out we checked one more thing: underneath the hood.  It turns out at our current marked out positions, we would be cutting through the hood support, so we re-measured and moved the vent holes up 3/4 of an inch.  We also laid a metal sign underneath the cuts to prevent us hitting any engine components with the drill and blade and to keep shavings out of the picture to.



It was finally time to do the deed.  I called J one last time to see if it was still a go.  He confirmed it and I got the drill ready.  I started timidly with a small bit, but after a little hesitation, I found the metal extremely easy to puncture.  And thus the point of no return had come upon us.  I said screw it, threw caution to the wind and got a bigger drill bit and went to work drilling holes in the corners of the hole to be.  You can see in the picture how close we got to the hood support.

After the drilling on the one side was done, I switched out for the jig saw.  I was a little scared to use the saw on the hood, but we had read that a grinder will just heat up the metal too much and ruin the paint.  So we got a nice metal cutting blade for Steve's Bosch.

I must say I was surprised at how easy the blade cut through the metal.  Maintaining a straight cut line was a nonplus.  The cutting was done almost before I had started, and when it was done, we had what we wanted, a great big hole in Jared's hood.  The hole had turned out so perfect that the vent fit in nice and snuggly.  We went ahead and kept and used the mounting clips that were already on one of the vent sides.

The vents also had countersunk mount holes that were going to have to be dealt with.  Instead of cutting a nice pretty hole for them to sit in, we just cut a notch out for each one since no one would be seeing it anyway.  We were going to mount the vents with 3M tape, but we figured we'd still fill the mounting holes with screws for aesthetic appeal.

Pretty soon we had the other side all cut out and it was time to finally remove the tape.  When we did we were pretty amazed that the paint showed no signs of duress around our cuts; it was still in perfect condition.  We did take a couple q-tips and some rustoleum and touched up around the cuts to prevent any future rust.

All we had to do now was put some 3M tape around all the edges and we were ready to go.  We measured again and checked the placement from the roof to make sure they were exactly where we wanted them.  Then we traced around them with a Crayola marker.  It was tricky, but we managed to insert the clip side first and stick the vents right where they needed to be.