Detailing your car for a show
Many of us take great pride in our cars, which is awesome! Some of us even like to share our passion with the rest of the community and allow the pride and joy that we spend to so much time, not to mention money maintaining, by entering it in various shows.
It pains me to see, every time I go to a show the errors that many people do. Recently I was asked what the best approach is to prepping your car to a show.
I'll outline a few things that you can do and that you should avoid doing! I have a bit of experience in this, with at one show 9 cars I had detailed entered, 7 came back with a trophy and the remainder were runner ups! I regularly detail cars for shows. Some are dedicated show cars, others are daily drivers or weekenders that enter shows.
1. Detailing is Optional
I'll make this very clear for you guys - your car does not need to be immaculate to enter or even win the show. It does not need to be paint corrected to the nth degree. Paint correction is there to make the paint flawless enough to allow all the protective coatings to fully bond. I even entered a car that was just prepped by myself and the owner the night before and it won its category. No paint correction was involved (although it needed it badly).
2. Take it easy with the cleaning
If your car is paint corrected and protected, just give it a wash the night before, wax it up with some soft wax and you are good to go. Don't go crazy rubbing and buffing, you'll do more damage than you think. Clean the wheels, engine bay and whatever you like, but do this for yourself not the judges. This will become clear later.
3. Use the correct products
If your car is not paint corrected you'll spend some more time, just be careful you do not induce any more damage. Maybe give it a light hand polish with something like Duragloss 101. Then wax it up and enjoy. If you have any questions, troll some forums and ask questions. Even feel free to contact me.
4. At the show
Grab some MF towels and get them really wet, them wring them out so they are damp. Place them in a ziplock bag and grab a full water bottle. This is to clean the wheels, exhaust, engine, chrome all that stuff on the day if you so desire.
5. DO NOT TOUCH THE PAINT!!!!!!
This is something I see all the time, people rubbing and rubbing and rubbing with quick detailer on the day. Just don't. In the sun the panels get warm, the paint will soften and you'll be setting yourself up for pretty intense swirls and then a 30 hour job from me to get it back to where it was.
If you drive the through a dusty road or something - too bad! Everyone has that layer of dust on their car so you're all equal. If you crawl through, you're unlikely to lift any up - keep your distance from the car in front.
Soft waxes can go soft in the sun. If you start wiping and you'll smear it making your car look unfinished and stained. Just leave it! Put a little thing on your windscreen politely saying do not touch. People love to touch Ferraris and other exotics. Damage from rings on the front guards is the most common. Kids like to touch shit and then they love to touch your car. You cant avoid it, but if it matters to you, just put a little sign up. 99% of people will respect it.
6. Judging is simply a formality.
I was judge in a few shows. Not just Alfas but a collection of other marques too. I always tried to be fair, but struggled to look past paint defects. It isn't fair in my eyes that detailed cars should always win show and shines, for a show and shine is about passion and effort. Some of us do not have the funds to pay someone like me to maintain the finish. I found it difficult and prefer not to judge anymore.
I once saw a flawless Alfa Romeo GT get the once over by judges, for them to only look at the grill water stains, the door jambs and the carpet....which was weird given the car had the most perfect paint! It 'lost'. If you're a judge, please have courtesy and don't start rubbing dirty paint and pointing stuff out. You have no idea how far this person has driven to show their car off, so be mindful.
Judges have a personal preference too - so sometimes you're stuffed either way. I had a client with a modified car enter a show - this car was immaculate. We spent days on it! It lost to another car which was modified more according to the taste of the judge.
7. If you look after your car, you're already a winner.
These shows are about sharing the passion, don't sacrifice the 30 seconds of glory you get when someone looks at your car to do extensive damage to your paint by trying to make it look perfect. Enjoy your car for what it is, hang out with your buddies and enjoy the show!
8. Please, again I urge you, don't touch your paint on the day - especially if it is sunny.
Happy to answer any questions on this, just give me a yell!
P.S. I have refrained from recommending any products, I have the products I like and use but often then can be expensive and tricky to apply. Everyone one has a preferred type of product Any protection is better than none at all.