CAR STORIES > Entering a Car Show is an Incredible Feeling

Entering a Car Show is an Incredible Feeling

MercedesMy First Classic Car Show

Many years ago – just after I had started my career as an automotive detailer – I had the opportunity to help a customer prepare his beautiful 1958 Cadillac for a car show. It was a concour d’elegance. It was my first one. Finally – a fun auto detailing project. It was an auto detailer’s wet dream!

Mobile Automotive Detailing

At that time I ran a mobile auto detailing service. I had outfitted an old Volkswagen van with water tanks, a generator, pressure washer, vacuum and my power buffer. I had it made. No rent and no employees to babysit. I would come out to your home or office and clean your car right there. I really enjoyed it – and I could bring my dog with me, too. On my way home every afternoon we would stop at the lake and she would swim and chase the old tennis ball. Life was fantastic.

Preparing for the Car Show

So the day before the car event I showed up at the client’s house first thing in the morning. I wanted to have plenty of time with the 1958 Cadillac. Now this Cadillac was a monster. I bet this boat was over 20 feet long. It must have had 500 pounds of chrome on it. The paint job was finished off in a deep lipstick red, and the interior was white. This was a classic. I was really excited to work on it.

The first thing I did was give it a quick wash job. The car was almost spotless to begin with. All I was doing was getting the dust off. Then it was time to get into the real detailing.

I didn’t have to put lipstick on this pig. I just had to make the lipstick-colored paint glow. I used my power buffer and some very gentle polish to bring out the deepest shine possible. I went over the car three times. By now my arms were aching – I needed some Advil! I wanted to make this car look way better than new. I spent a long time hand polishing the car with an even softer car polishing compound. I was using baby diapers to rub the car out. I even used a toothbrush to get the excess polish out of the nooks and crannies. I was having a blast with this beast.

The next step was to wax the paint by hand. I chose a soft paste wax that was nonabrasive. I didn’t want anything to dull the finish. I applied the wax with a soft foam applicator and took it off with even more diapers. I even waxed the insides of the door jambs. I amazed myself. The paint couldn’t have looked better if it was new.

Now it was time to tackle all 500 pounds of chrome. I rubbed out every inch of it with some mild metal polish and yet another diaper. My goal was to make it look like a mirror – and I did. With that much chrome, it took about two and a half hours. The combination of the polishing and waxing along with the sparkling chrome was stunning. I knew this beast would steal the show!

Next, it was time to wipe down the engine. It was very clean to start with, so I only had to go over it with some mild cleaner and polish all of the chrome parts. No problem. From there I polished out the hubcaps and wiped down the tires with some rubber conditioner. Now my dream was coming true.

From here I tackled the interior. It was in good shape to start with. I shampooed the carpets and seats, then vacuumed out the interior. I even shampooed the trunk. The dash and parts of the door panels were painted to match the car, so I waxed those parts as well. Also, there was a great deal of chrome on the interior that got some loving attention. Finally I cleaned all of the glass inside and out. No smudges allowed! Truth be told, I hate doing windows.

Final Inspection – Ready for the Big Classic Car Show

After all of that work I was feeling pretty good – and pretty tired. The customer and I went over the finished product together and I wrapped up the day. He even tipped me. However, I had a surprise for him. I showed up the next morning at the car show. I could hardly sleep that night. But I had a car-crazy dream.

The Day of the Car Show

The next morning I was nervous and wanted to make sure the beast was really ready to show off. Throughout the day I dusted the car down with soft diapers. I made sure it looked its best for the judges. Three of them inspected the Caddy from top to bottom. They kept scribbling notes on their judging forms. All that was left was for them to tally up their votes. I was biting my nails.

In the end the customer won first place in his class. He didn’t win best of show, but he felt very good about it. I was a proud auto detailer. I enjoyed watching the judges look over the cars, and I learned quite a few things that would serve me well in the future. Car shows are fun – and you get to see the results of your work compared to quite a few others. So grab the wax and a hand full of baby diapers – there are shows everywhere.

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