Although I went against my wife's wishes, I am installing a baseplate myself on a 2002 Pontiac Grand Am (she wanted a dealer to do it). I ordered a Blue Ox BX1648 baseplate kit, which "fits" a 199-03 Oldsmobile Alero, 1999-2002 Pontiac Grand Am, 1997-05 Chevy Malibu, and a 1998-03 Oldsmobile Cutlass.
Well, "fits" is a relative word.
The baseplate installation is supposed to take 3 hours...
I am 7 hours into it, and about half done.
The installation instructions - at least the photos are for the Chevy Malibu, and while the cars are similar - and probably on the same chassis, they are not identical.
So, after step 1, the instructions did not agree with the dis assembly. I ended up having to poke around and see what comes apart in order to remove the front fascia, and that took a lot longer than 3 hours.
Also, there was a few rusty bolts, some which broke off. And the front fascia had been removed once already in the car's life to fix a collision with a deer, so some of the bolts were metric and some were SAE. My guess is the body shop replaced rusted bolts which broke off during the first fix with SAE hardware.
And I found some bolts were stripped. For example, the horn (which has to be temporarily removed) is attached to the frame with one bolt, which was stripped - so that took some time to remove.
And on the other side, there was an air dam and windshield washer bottle that just took forever to figure out how to remove.
After I got all of the superfluous stuff off the car, I found the baseplate more or less fit, but the frame was too close for comfort to the lower transmission cooler hose going into the radiator. There was only about 1/16" clearance, and since it is a solid tube, I think eventually it would rub against the baseplate and fail.
So I had to move the entire baseplate forward 1/4", which meant removing the baseplate, grinding into both sides of the vehicle's frame to remove a dimply, and grinding a clearance slot for the other part of the transmission tube, as sliding the frame forward 1/4" would make a different part of the tube contact the baseplate.
After all of that, I got one hole drilled into the vehicle's frame and bolted the baseplate on.
After replacing the fascia, I found out the baseplate was not really built for this vehicle specifically as there is not enough clearance for the safety chain tab nor the electrical connector tabs. As well, they are too short.
I think this is because the baseplate is used on 4 different GM models, so it is more or less a generic baseplate for the model lines.
The dealer I bought the baseplate from assures me it was specifically designed for my car, but I say that is BS. And yes, I confirmed this is the correct baseplate from Blue Ox.
So I think I can bend the tubes up a bit for the connector, but for the safety chain, I am not sure what I am going to do. I am sort of waiting for Blue Ox to return my call to see what they suggest. They will probably tell me to just cut off part of the grill - but that would make the installation very ugly.
If I could bend the safety chain tabs up a bit that would work, but they are pretty hefty, so I am not sure if I can bend them without damaging something else.
Options are to cut the ends of the tabs off a bit shorter and drill a new hole for the chain, cut the backside of the grill off so the safety chain link goes through both the tabs and the grill, or some other idea I have not yet thought of.
The silver tabs for the tow bar are exactly correct, and exit the grill perfectly. I could not ask for a better fit.
Unfortunately, the connector tabs (left) and the safety chain tabs (right) are far from perfect. Given there is a 2" gap in the grill, there was sufficient room for both of the tabs - so my conjecture is that this baseplate is a generic one for several sister model vehicles and not specifically for my vehicle.
Tomorrow I will finish the job. Probably another 4~5 hours. I have to drill the rest of the holes to mount the baseplate, then basically button it up.
I keep telling my wife that had we had it done by a dealer, they would not have taken the time to do the job correctly, and we would have ended up with the center grill part cut off... which would destroy the look of the car.
More to come.