Why do we enjoy and go through so much work to prepare our cars?

  • Personal pride
  • Long term investment
  • Preparation for resale
  • Discovery of worn or damaged parts

What does Concours d'Elegance "Tour" preparation involve?

Tour class preparation involves detailing your car through meticulous and intense hand cleaning and parts replacement to OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers) standards for personal pride, improvement, and investment purposes to produce a near perfect specimen as it originally arrived from the manufacturing plant, no matter the current age or how many miles are on the car.

How often should a Concours participant clean their car?

This depends on several factors:

  • Whether or not the Porsche is regularly garaged or exposed to the elements
  • Use of automated car washes
  • Colors sensitive to exposure (e.g. red/black)
  • Hardness and durability of the wax used

How long does it take to prepare a car for the Tour class?

The full process can take twelve or more hours to complete, but will help to make your car competitive and score reasonably well at any Porsche Club Concours d'Elegance.

What are the basic steps in car preparation?

1. Wash

2. Clean

3. Polish or prep

4. Wax

5. Dress

How should I wash my Porsche?

Use a good quality car shampoo. Wash from the top down. Use a clean white terrycloth face towel - be sure to remove the tag to prevent scratching. If you drop your wash cloth on the ground, don't try to rinse it out - use another one. To help speed drying, sheet rinse water onto the paint rather than spraying. Dry with a towel. Wash wheels and tires separately using sponges, brushes, etc. reserved for use with wheels and tires.

What are some cleaning tips?

After drying the car, walk around looking for contaminants bonded to the paint (e.g. tar, bug jerky, ...) that need to be removed before you start the polish and prep step. Remove adhered contaminants using body solvent (a hazardous chemical item - wear gloves and apply carefully).

What are some polish or prep tips?

Use good quality materials with clean applicators and clean towels to remove residue. As for using a clay bar, note that clay does remove contaminants from paint. However, the problem with clay is that the contaminants you remove end up in the clay and you can end up putting contaminants right back on the paint if you're not careful.

What are some waxing tips?

The choice of wax depends on the normal use of the car. Zymol's Hard Carbon Wax produces a superior shine, but requires more rigorous application effort. For daily drivers, which require more frequent cleaning, prep, and waxing, Meguiars Yellow Carnuba Wax is a good choice, as it produces a good shine, is fairly easy to use, and holds up well under daily use.

What are some dressing tips?

The last step is dressing items like bumper trim, door handles. Use caution when applying the recommended Griot's Garage product as it can stain paint.

Using the right materials is important. That means a clean, good quality cloth or special applicator pads when applying cleaners, polishes, and wax. Always use good quality cloths for removing products, and use a micro-fiber cloth for the final polish and for touch up with detail spray. Always work one small section at a time. Avoid circular motion when applying and removing cleaner, polish or wax - use an aerodynamic front-to-back motion and apply lots of pressure. Be sure to thoroughly remove all residue. One more thing - use the recommended detailing spray with a clean cloth to remove bird droppings from your paint as soon as you can - be a little cautious as some bird droppings can contain gritty material that may scratch your paint if you're not careful.

What are some tips for good results?

1. Avoid circular motions when using cloths - strive to work in aerodynamic front-to-back strokes in keeping with natural air and water flow over the car's surface.

2. The goal is to remove dirt through cleaning before any final dressing can be applied.

3. Work in the correct order - start with the gentlest possible treatment when dealing with problem areas. Work your way up to the strongest/harshest materials only as needed, and always make sure the material you're using won't cause damage.

4. Use your sense of touch avoiding fingerpads to detect contaminants.

5. Always check the area you're working on by looking at it from several angles to make sure you've dealt with all the defects you found in your initial inspection. If at all possible, do this under a sunlit sky, since Concours judging usually occurs outdoors under natural light.

6. Do not over-clean or strip areas beyond OEM grading expectations.

7. Always wear soft clothes, and remove personal jewelery. Ladies with long hair should tie it up in pony tail for safety.

8. Always wear surgical supply or detailer's gloves based on allergy preference and use eye protection when spraying or working with any hazardous chemicals.

9. Store all chemicals in child-proof, non-freezing area above 40 degrees for safety and longevity.

10. Never decant chemicals into odd bottles. Always and only use OSHA-approved containers. Some chemicals may react with soft plastics in unapproved containers and cause damage to local surfaces in contact.

11. Always drape an old bath towel as a fender cloth to protect and pad work surface when working under the hood and in door sill areas.

12. Never work or spray chemicals into heated engines.

13. Use caution and do not oversaturate delicate or aged engine parts with excess liquid.

14. Work in a 6-12 inch square foot area of attention at all times and do not jump around work area; mind all tools used and return to carrier promptly.

What are some materials and equipment tips?

Dirty towels and cloths may be washed and dried as you would wash similar items that you use in your household with one exception - never use fabric softener! Also, never put your cleaning towels and rags away dirty - toss them in the wash so they're ready for your next session. For those who prefer a little help with prep, polishing, and waxing, you may consider purchasing a good quality random-orbital buffer (Porter-Cable or equivalent). These machines are somewhat expensive, but a random-orbital buffer will help you avoid burns and other problems that can happen all too easily with standard sanders/buffers. When using a buffer, be sure to use the appropriate applicator and polishing pads.

What are some tips for cleaning around the engine bay?

Start with about a gallon of water in a bucket. Add a capful of car shampoo and a dash of Murphy's Oil Soap. Use a small, clean terry towel (facecloth) and start near the front. Work your way around the engine bay, cleaning one area at a time. Use Griot's Engine Cleaner as needed. For baked-on grease and dried oil, Meguiars sells a commercial-grade degreaser, but this is a hazardous material, so you should wear gloves and use extreme caution in applying it, as it can damage paint. In general, it's not a good idea to try and remove cosmoline (a waxy yellowish substance) on engine parts - its presence won't hurt during judging, and it's really difficult to completly remove. For corroded parts (fasteners, fittings, etc.) use 0000 steel wool to remove the corrosion, as polished parts look good to concours judges. Don't forget to clean inside the fan shroud and other areas which the judges may be able to reach into during their search for less-than-showroom clean surfaces. Replace small soft parts that are hard to clean or that have deteriorated. Don't use dressing on hoses.

How should I clean the upholstery and carpeting?

Use good quality cleaning products such as Lexol products. Apply cleaners and preservatives by spraying them on a good, clean cloth. Wipe surfaces clean. Buff treated surfaces with a separate clean cloth.

Use Lexol's Vinlyex on non-leather surfaces such as dashboards. Do not use ArmorAll because it contains silicon, which produces a quick shine but can react with, and degrade, plastics over time. So, if you plan to keep your car a long time, avoid using ArmorAll.

When spot-cleaning carpeting, apply the cleaning product carefully, and blot the spot; do not rub it, as rubbing may just spread the dirt or stain around and just make things worse. Deep cleaning all of the carpeting is best done with an (expensive) Automotive Carpet Extractor - leave this to a professional.

How should I clean glass surfaces?

Use a good quality, clear cleaner such as Window Cleaner available from Griot's Garage. Use only lint-free, high-fiber content paper products or cloth towels.

What are some reccomended supplies for a serious Concours participant?

  • Plastic Carrier
  • Nitrile Gloves
  • Baby Wipes (for cleaning hands)
  • Fabric shop towel roll
  • Blue Window Wipes
  • Grey Mircrofiber Cloth
  • Pastel Cotton Wiping Terrycloth
  • Beige Textured Cotton Terrycloth for wax seal breakage
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Cotton Dressing Pads
  • 3 professional touch-up paint applicators
  • Set 4 Nylon Toothbrushes
  • Set 3 Detailing Brushes (nylon & metal)
  • Goo Gone adhesive remover
  • Spot Shot Carpet Cleaner
  • 35 oz. Engine Cleaner & Sprayer
  • Body Solvent for tar removal (Hazardous material; Use gloves!)
  • Super Degreaser for dried oil, etc (Hazardous material; Use gloves!)
  • 35 oz. Window Cleaner & Sprayer
  • Grade 0000 steel wool
  • Tire protectant gel sample

What are some reccomended products to use?

These always vary by participant, but here's a good start:

  • Meguiars Scratch-X
  • Meguiars Fine Cut Cleaner
  • Meguiars Medium Cut Cleaner
  • Meguiars All Wheel Cleaner
  • Meguiars NXT Generation Metal Polish
  • Meguiars Yellow Carnuba Wax
  • Meguiars Detail Spray (the newest version)
  • Simichrome Polish
  • Griot's Trim Reconditioner
  • Murphy's Wood Oil Soap
  • Meguiars Car Shampoo
  • Lexol Leather Cleaner
  • Lexol Leather Protectant
  • Lexol Vinylex
  • Zymol Protectant
  • Zymol Hard Carbon Wax