A large proportion of the detailing jobs I carry out in Hampshire & West Sussex are on older or classic cars. These vehicles may have been through many owners with varying levels of care throughout their lifetime. In this week’s post, I want to outline some of the important things to think about when dealing with these vehicles. I’ve concentrated on just four main points for this article. But, it’s important to remember that detailing classic cars always needs a professional eye and expert tools.
Detailing Classic Cars – My Top Considerations:
Single Stage Paint – Residue Control
Possibly one of the biggest things to consider for classic car detailing is single stage paint. This finish can be a dream to work on… If you use the right technique paired with the right machine, pad and liquid.
With single-stage paint comes the increased likelihood of running into paint defects. These defects can include heavy staining, etching and the most common of all, oxidation (faded paint). Single-stage paint also tends to be quite a bit softer than a modern clear coated finish (although this isn’t always the case). So, paint defects such as scratches and swirls marks are likely to be deeper set into the finish.
Always consider residue control when working on single-stage paintwork. You’ll have a lot more old, “dead” paint coming off and contaminating your polishing pad. So, make sure you clean out the pad regularly with compressed air. Additionally, use a compound or polish that can deal with the high amounts of residue. I’d also advise that you use a polishing pad that can deal with the residue while continuing to work the abrasives. Foam pads tend to work best in these instances.
Different paint types across the car
When working on older or classic cars, it is usually the case that at some point during their life they will have had some bodywork repairs. This raises the unique challenge of having to work on multiple different types of paint across one vehicle.
Not all paint is created equal! So, when it comes to detailing classic cars, you should consider the technique, pad and liquid combination you’ll need to get the desired results. What you use will vary across the vehicle. This is because different paints respond to machine polishing in different ways. Some might mar more than others during the cutting stages. Other finishes might be on the slightly “sticky” side, giving off more residue. Across the vehicle, you’ll find some paintwork might be harder or softer, thicker or thinner than in other places.
There are so many variations with paint that you can see why having different types of paint on the same car can be challenging. You’ll have to adjust your technique, pad and liquid on the fly. I recently completed a full paint correction on a vehicle that had both clear coated finishes and multiple different types of single-stage paint across different panels. It felt gratifying once the job was complete, with a night and day difference to the paint.
Paint that has been previously worked on many times and at different points in time
When it comes to classic car detailing, I’m not always the first to work on a vehicle. It may have seen some machine polishing or wet sanding in the past at a body shop, garage or even a detailing company.
Each time machine polishing and especially sanding is undertaken, paint is removed. The amount may be small, but it can cause issues. If the vehicle has seen machine polishing or sanding once before, or even multiple times, there may not be enough paint left in situ to work on further safely. This is often the case if an inexperienced worker completed the work. There may already be areas where the paint has compromised and have been burnt through. Of course, these are areas that you’ll want to have repainted or at the very least avoid altogether.
Areas to avoid (rust, paint bubbling, paint peeling, loose trims, bad seals)
Speaking of areas to avoid leads me quite nicely on to my final point. Due to their age, classic cars will often have some damage or weathering that creates an area of the car that cannot withstand polishing or even washing.
Areas might include rust spots, flaking body filler, paint peeling or bubbling, loose trims and badges or seals that no longer function. There are cases where a car cannot be washed with a hose let alone a pressure washer (which should be used with extreme caution on a classic car) due to failed weather seals around the windows and doors leading to the car having to be washed with a waterless method, which if you’re in the unfortunate circumstances where this is required then the only waterless wash system I will use on both my own cars or clients cars (only if necessary) is AMMO Frothe Hose-less Lift.
When it comes to detailing classic cars, it’s really important to have both a professional eye and expert tools. I have both and work throughout Hampshire & West Sussex. Contact me here.