In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Car Engine


  • Heavy swirl mark removal and restoration using professional machine polishing compounds
  • The best products for cleaning heavily modified engine bays
  • How to deal with restoration of carbon fibre parts
  • Doubling up gloss and protection by layering hard waxes and paint sealants

Follow along with our big detail as we bring this fresh-off-the-boat HKS demo car to better than showroom condition…

We’ve had some pretty special tuner cars in our bay over the years, but it has to be said that the Kamikaze-86 Super Sonic is right up there with the very best.

Recently imported from Japan by the guys at Harlow Jap Autos, this monster Toyota GT86 was originally put together as a demo and track car by legendary tuners HKS to showcase a whole load of their latest parts. As you’d expect, it’s got all the bells and whistles, too. carbon fibre everything (including the roof) a full Varis GT kit, more wings than Heathrow airport and of course a fully-built HKS FA20-2.2L engine with an extra couple of turbos pushing over 630bhp through the HKS sequential box. Yes, it’s a bit lively this one, and it’s been featured on the cover of many of the Japan’s top tuning magazines.

Being and extensively tuned and modified specialist vehicle though, it does throw up one or two challenges when it comes to detailing. The fact that it’s spent months in storage and then on a ship across the ocean presents a few more. What we’re looking at here is hardly routine maintenance on a daily driver, and that makes some of the processes a little different to, or at least more involved than, the norm.

But that’s exactly where we’re here to help, so let’s check out our full big detail video to see how we took this one from dirty and swirly to having plenty of impeccable showroom shine…

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So you've seen the processes in our HKS GT86 video but it's pretty obvious that the detail took a little longer than 13-mins or so in real life. So, let's get to grips with the full process with an exclusive in-depth guide covering the best detailing products for each task, how we used them, and why they were chosen for this particular detail…

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Car
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Dirty in Bay
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Dirty in Bay
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Car Backside
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Inside of the Car
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Car Wheel
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Car Backside

Engine Bay

There’s no denying that the GT86 is a modern car, and in many cases that would mean we would start the detail with wet cleaning the engine bay. The reason for this is that most modern cars have acres of plastic panels protecting the engine and vital components as standard, so using heavy hitting detailing products like Eradicate Engine Degreaser or a strong dilution of Verso All Purpose Cleaner and carefully misting over a pressure washer to rinse away any grime caught up in the solution isn’t going to pose a problem. In fact, it’s the quickest and most effective way of cleaning most modern engine bays.

We also tend to start our detail here because the under-bonnet area will often be packed with some of the most harmful contamination and oil-based deposits, so cleaning these away first will limit the spread to other cleaner parts of the vehicle. It also means that we won’t go messing up any areas we’ve already cleaned by subjecting them to even harsher contamination. So, in the majority of cases, we can start our big detail by using the wet cleaning process described in our article Clean Your Engine Bay The Easy Way.

The difference this time around of course, is that this particular GT86 is extensively modified. And, as with most heavily tuned cars, there’s plenty of exposed components that will be a little more sensitive and will need extra care when cleaning. In other words, as experienced detailers we know not to go poking our pressure washer around in there and we’ll carefully clean the engine bay by hand later when the car is safely in the detailing bay.

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Car Engine
Detailing Brush Trio Detailing Brush Trio
Detailing Brush Trio

Detailing Brush Set

Eradicate Eradicate

Engine Cleaner & Degreaser

Verso Verso

All-Purpose Cleaner (APC)

Cleaning Wheels and Tyres

With the car in the wash bay we can start the wet work with the wheels. Again, we’re beginning our detail here as a safety measure to prevent the spread of harsh contamination to other more sensitive areas of the car.

Wheels and inner arches are typically exposed to the most harmful types of contaminants, and in the heaviest concentrations. This is why you’ll tend to find the most mud, road salt, heavy grit and metal contamination (derived from brake dust) in these areas – all the large-particle grime that will scratch sensitive surfaces like paintwork and gloss plastics. This is why we’ll start the vast majority of details by eradicating this type of contamination.

As always, the type and concentration of contamination will dictate the products we use for the cleaning processes but it’s also worth considering the type of wheels on the vehicle and the sensitivity of their finish. In some cases, dark gloss finishes and satins can be more susceptible to scratching, and polished and bare metal surfaces may require the choice of different wheel cleaning products. Very often aftermarket wheel finishes aren’t quite as tough as the heavily protected powdercoat finishes you’ll find as standard.

Now, although this car is hardly a daily driver, what with all those horsepowers, and the fact that this monster is a road legal HKS demo car, it stands to reason that these aftermarket Advan wheels have taken quite the hammering over their lifetime. This will inevitably effect the type of contamination present in this particular case.

Continuous extreme braking on the track, as you can imagine, causes even more embedded brake dust than you’ll find on an everyday driver. And, let’s face it, you don’t lap Fuji Speedway in 1:45 (incidentally with Nobuteru Taniguchi at the wheel) without a spot of heavy braking, right? You’ll bound to pick up plenty of tar contamination at the same time – it’s all evident here, and this will reflect in the products we’ll use for the cleaning.

First though we’ll take the wheels off. Obviously, this isn’t necessary for every detail you’ll ever carry out, especially during routine maintenance, but can make a huge difference to a big deep-clean such as this. Not only does this give us much better access to typically neglected areas such as the rear of the spokes on the wheels, but it means we can get right into the arches to clean the inner liners and chassis components.

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Car Wheel

As you can see these aftermarket wheels were pretty heavily contaminated, but we still needed to be mindful of the gloss white finish. This told us that we needed a heavy hitting wheel cleaner capable of breaking down and safely removing large particle grime without scratching the surface. Keeping the cleaning safe is always a priority, even on wheels which are nearly always more resilient to damage than areas such as paintwork. What was also evident was that we needed a detailing product capable of removing a high concentration of embedded brake dust (metal contamination), an important point because this type of contamination can only be fully eradicated through intensive chemical removal.

Most cleaning products are designed for physical grime removal, they work by breaking away particulates on a microscopic level, lifting them from the surface and encapsulating them in the cleaning solution. This allows them to be rinsed away without touching (and hence causing any damage to) the surface. In the case of embedded metal, a specialist product is needed to chemically dissolve the metal into the solution. So, for these wheels we needed a combination of the two cleaning processes.

For this reason, we chose Reactive Wheel Cleaner as our primary wheel cleaning product. This solution is chiefly a powerful surfactant-based wheel cleaner that’s safe for use on all painted and powdercoated wheels, but it also contains a chemical fall-out remover (much like the solution you’ll find in our Iron Out Contaminant Remover), specifically designed to tackle sharp metal particles lodged in the wheel surfaces.

As always though, the very first step, is giving the wheels and tyres a good rinse with our pressure washer. This process is vital to prevent wasting your detailing products on loose contamination that can be removed with water pressure alone. In other words, a pre-rinse will always ensure that your products get to work where they’re most needed.

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Screenshot 2024-01-02 at 13.51.14.png
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Wheel Cleaning

Being supplied in a trigger bottle, application of Reactive is extremely easy, simply spray directly and liberally onto each wheel (one at a time) attempting to spread plenty of the solution around all surfaces as much as possible. Don’t worry too much about the spreading though, you’ll be doing more of that during the agitation process - in this case we’re using a combination of Barrel Brush and Ultra Plush Wheel Mitt to make sure the cleaning is effective as possible.

With the exception of those specifically designed for touchless cleaning (such as pre cleaners used in the pre-wash stages) agitation is important for all cleaning products, but it’s perhaps most evident on wheels which come in all sorts of complicated designs. They’re not exactly flat and easy to deal with like paintwork, right?

Agitation in most cases isn’t about physical grime removal, we’re not scrubbing away on the wheels here with any force or stiff brushes. Instead, a spot of light agitation with some suitably soft, scratch-less wash media, does two things:

First agitation ensures that your cleaning solution is getting to every part of the surface, including any tight nooks or recesses. And second, it’s a way of refreshing the solution for more effective cleaning. Think of your cleaning agents as like a microscopic sponge, when any part of the solution has encapsulated or soaked up the maximum amount of grime that it can it’s what’s referred to as ‘spent’ and no longer pulling any more grime away from surfaces. By agitating the solution you’re effectively moving away spent solution and moving in fresh solution to work on any remaining grime. So, you can see why agitation is so important during most cleaning processes inside and out.

One other thing to consider when cleaning wheels is agitating your primary cleaner using a lubricating wash solution. In most cases a little Revolution Wheel Soap in a bucket of water will provide not just extra cleaning power (again this is a powerful surfactant-based cleaner that can be uses as a stand-alone wheel cleaner on the most sensitive finishes) but the suds will act as an extra lubricant, allowing any heavy particles to slip and slide over the surface when you rinse them away.

Detailing Bucket Detailing Bucket
Detailing Bucket

Bucket & Grit Guard

Barrel Brush Barrel Brush
Barrel Brush

Wheel Cleaning Brush

Reactive Reactive

Alloy Wheel Cleaner

Ultra Plush Wheel Mitt Ultra Plush Wheel Mitt
Ultra Plush Wheel Mitt

Microfibre Wash Mitt

Revolution Revolution

Wheel Shampoo

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Reactive Wheel Cleaner
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Wheel Cleaning with Barrel Brush
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - null

Just before rinsing away your spent wheel cleaning solution (and all the grime with it) is the best time to thoroughly clean the tyres. Obviously, these can be physically scrubbed using a stiff brush - such as our Rubber Scrubber Tyre Brush – because unlike the painted wheels you’re not going to cause any damage through physical cleaning. In fact, it pays to scrub your tyres because this will help draw out grime from under the surface.

You’ll also need a suitable cleaner for this job, something tough enough to remove the harshest contamination, here we’re using Tread Tyre Cleaner.

Tread tyre cleaner works in the same way as most surfactant-based cleaners by lifting and encapsulating the heavy grime allowing it to be rinsed away. The difference with Tread as opposed to a traditional APC is that it’s been specifically formulated for repeated use without drying out the rubber underneath. So, while you can use an APC such as Verso periodically, we always recommend using Tread, especially during routine maintenance and larger details on your own car – it’s specially formulated to be safe for the job, after all.

Cleaning your tyres not only looks good and helps to keep them in the best possible condition but it creates the perfect grit and grime-free surface for the bonding of your tyre dressing later. This not only help your dressings look their best, but they will last longer, too. Here we’re cleaning not just the sidewalls front and back, but the treads, too… although obviously we’ll only be dressing the sidewalls. Simply spray-on, scrub and rinse.

Finally, because of the added bonded tar on these particular wheels (they really have been well-used on the track!) we also utilised a little ObliTARate Tar & Glue Remover to melt away any oily deposits. In this case we simply spray onto the affected areas and agitate with a microfibre Polish Pad, before rinsing away the residue.

ObliTARate ObliTARate

Tar & Glue Remover

Polish Pads Polish Pads
Polish Pads

Microfibre Polishing Pads

Rubber Scrubber Rubber Scrubber
Rubber Scrubber

Tyre Brush

Tread Tread

Rubber & Tyre Cleaner

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Tread Rubber & Tyre Cleaner
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Rubber Scrubber Tyre Brush

Before bolting the wheels back on we can tackle the inner arches and brake calipers. Some of these areas may be largely unseen, but it doesn’t mean that they’re not important. The name of the game here is making sure we’re thorough, first by blasting away any loose contamination and then using our cleaning agents to break down and lift any remaining grime. What we don’t want is any of this harsh grit or grime coming out later and affecting the later stages of our detail.

Again, surfaces such as plastic arch liners and suspension components aren’t going to be harmed from a little vigorous scrubbing, so a 1:2 solution of Verso All Purpose Cleaner scrubbed in with a Rubber Scrubber or Arch Blaster Arch Brush is the quickest and most effective way to remove the heaviest grime.

Verso is a powerful dilute-to-suit APC that’s ideal for many cleaning tasks inside and out. It’s supplied as a concentrated solution that you can mix with water in different dilutions to suit different cleaning jobs – say 1:2 for heavy grime removal under your arches or 1:10 for cleaning your car mats. Here we’ve mixed up our Verso in our professional Pressure Sprayer, but it can also be used in any trigger bottle, including our Pro Mixing Bottle. What’s most important here is to get plenty on there and agitate, before rinsing away the grime trapped in the solution.

Finally, those massive Endless brake calipers. Because these are powdercoated, a little Reactive agitated into all the nooks with a soft detailing brush is just the ticket. Another quick rinse down and the wheels can be bolted back on.

Arch Blaster Arch Blaster
Arch Blaster

Wheel Arch Brush

Detailing Brush Trio Detailing Brush Trio
Detailing Brush Trio

Detailing Brush Set

Foaming Pressure Sprayer Foaming Pressure Sprayer
Foaming Pressure Sprayer

2-Litre Pump Sprayer

Verso Verso

All-Purpose Cleaner (APC)

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Pre Wash

Pre-Wash: Pre-cleaning

Every detail requires a pre-wash, it’s arguably the most important part of the whole job. It’s here where we remove the heaviest paintwork contamination (without actually touching the vehicle) in a bid to limit the damage that can be inflicted on the most sensitive surfaces. The basic idea is to get these large, scratchable particles off the car without risking swirls and scratches that will inevitably be caused by dragging them over the surfaces with a wash mitt.

After a full-rinse down (again, to make sure your detailing products get to work where they’re most needed), it’s important to use a suitable pre-cleaner to break down and lift the worst of the grime. Here we’re using Citrus Power Bug & Grime Remover.

While it’s not quite as important here to consider wax, sealant and coating-safe cleaners (there’s no protection yet and we’ll be polishing the car anyway) we’re still using our protection-safe pre-cleaner to cut down the risk of inflicting further damage and essentially causing more work. In other words, Citrus Power is as essential for large details as it is routine maintenance.

The pre-cleaning process with this particular car is no different to any other, except perhaps considering both the type and concentration of the contamination. It’s a little different to a normal detail in that this car has not only been used for track demos and the like but it’s been on a ship for a long voyage from Japan… and possibly stored in a warehouse near the sea for some time. In fact, we don’t know exactly where it’s been, and that can mean that the contamination you see here can contain more corrosive elements such as metal dust from containers, sea salt and other environmental contamination. So, while Citrus Power can easily handle all of that extra muck, we needed to make sure we were extremely thorough along the way.

Citrus Power is supplied ready-to-use and safe for all surfaces so it can be applied to the whole vehicle before rinsing away the heavy contamination from the top to the bottom.

Citrus Power Citrus Power Citrus Power Citrus Power Citrus Power Citrus Power Citrus Power Citrus Power
Citrus Power

Citrus Power bug & grime remover is a versatile citrus pre-wash an essential that no car detailing kit should ever be without. Designed to aid the perfect... See product details More

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Citrus Pre-Wash
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Snow Foam
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Pre Wash - Snow Foam

Pre-Wash: Snow Foam

So, if we’ve already used a pre-cleaner, why do we now always break out the Avalanche Snow Foam as a second stage Pre-Wash? Well, the short of it is that a snow foam is a bit like a powerful pre-cleaner, but it’s a thick foam that also lingers on the surfaces for the longest possible time. All this extra lingering is designed to remove the smaller particles that will be bonded onto the surfaces. Citrus Power pre-cleaner for the large particulates, Avalanche Snow Foam for the stuck-on stuff - it's that simple.

The other advantage of snow foam of course is that it works its way into all the nooks and panel gaps, cleaning out any grit, grime and dust there, too. Again, this will stop any stray contamination from coming back to haunt you later, particularly when you’re drying or polishing. In our case, it has to be said that there’s more than a couple of awkward dirt traps on this car for our Avalanche to get to work on – a Varis kit, along with a whole load of vents and spoilers, will do that.

Anyway, that’s why we always use foam, and so should you. Avalanche is not only wax, sealant and coating safe, but Citrus-infused for the most intensive surfactant-based cleaning available. Avalanche should be applied using a Snow Foam Lance attached to your pressure washer. This is important because this is the professional grade hardware that not only dilutes and activates the cleaning agent, but it also whips up the solution into a foam by forcing it through a special gauze – the only truly effective way of getting that thick, deep cleansing foam you’re looking for.

Apply your snow foam from the top of the vehicle to the bottom, contra to popular belief the other way around may spread heavier soling at the bottom of the vehicle up to relatively cleaner areas. The real trick here is to let the foam linger for as long as possible, but without drying on the surface. A good tip is to keep an eye on the vehicle glass because it’s here where it tends to dry out first. Always rinse away the residue when your snow foam starts to dry, and be aware of the weather conditions, if it’s in the summer it’s going to dry quicker.

In the meantime you can perform a little agitation on areas such as the window rubbers, badges, mirrors and grilles. Unlike the pre-cleaning stage which must be completely contactless, the heavy particles will already be gone, so it’s safe to gently work your Avalanche into the more awkward recesses, just avoid the main paintwork panels. We’re not physically scrubbing here, just utilising a soft Detailing Brush to ensure that the snow foam contacts each area and is refreshed where needed.

Detailing Brush Trio Detailing Brush Trio
Detailing Brush Trio

Detailing Brush Set

Avalanche Avalanche

Snow Foam

Foam Lance Foam Lance
Foam Lance

Snow Foam Lance

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Avalanche Snow Foam
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 1 HKS KAMI-125.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Applying Snow Foam
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Applying Snow Foam
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Car Snow Foam
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Pre Wash - Snow Foam

Contact Wash

Now it’s safe to move onto the contact wash. This is the final stage of the more common cleaning processes and designed to remove any remaining small particle grime.

The most harmful contamination may have been removed in the pre-wash stages, but it’s still important to make contact washing the most sensitive surfaces as safe as possible. Here we not only have paintwork - which can be notoriously soft on Japanese imports - but a whole lot of clear-coated carbon fibre, painted metals and gloss plastics, too. All these are susceptible to scratching and swirling caused by bad wash techniques. To cut down on the risk of inflicting damage there’s a science to contact washing, and a few key safety measures we always employ, no matter how clean the car looks at this stage.

The first safety measure of course, is choosing the correct detailing product for the task. We’ve reached for the Lather Car Shampoo here, and it’s for a couple of very good reasons.

Lather is classed as a pure cleaner which means that, even though it’s kind to any previously applied waxes, sealants or coatings, it doesn’t contain any of these in itself. Lather is simply designed to clean the surface without leaving anything else behind that may interfere with the rest of the detail. It’s is also classed as a lubricant, which means that it allows harmful particles to slip and slide over surfaces without causing damage to the surface underneath.

We do supply other specialist car shampoos, advanced products that contain extra ingredients designed to install protection, add gloss or prolong the life of any ceramic protection present, but they’re not needed here. That said, products such as Wash ‘n’ Gloss Car Shampoo and Caramics Enhancing Shampoo are great for routine maintenance where you’re not going to be polishing.

Other effective safety measures come down to the equipment we use for the actual wash process. First, we utilise use two buckets - one bucket for our shampoo solution and one containing plain water for rinsing out our wash mitt between passes. In fact, the Detailer’s ‘two bucket wash’ continues to be the most effective method for preventing cross contamination of our wash water and ensuring that potentially harmful grit and grime isn’t recirculated back to the vehicle. We always use two of our professional Detailing Buckets for every contact wash. These incorporate a special grit guard to make sure we’re don’t pick up any stray gritty particles from the bottom and an extra-large 20-litre capacity to further help prevent recirculation of grime.

Speaking of wash mitts, these are a vital piece of equipment, too. Professional wash mitts are designed not to scrub surfaces, instead they glide along picking up and locking away the grime particles deep within their pile. This measure keeps it off your paintwork until you rinse your mitt out in your bucket. The choice of mitt is often a case of detailer’s preference, we’ve chosen a Plush Wash Mitt which is ideal this time around.

To prepare our wash solution we add a couple of capfuls of Lather to our wash bucket and froth up the suds with our pressure washer.

Detailing Bucket Detailing Bucket
Detailing Bucket

Bucket & Grit Guard

Lather Lather

Car Shampoo

Noodle Wash Mitt Noodle Wash Mitt
Noodle Wash Mitt

Microfibre Wash Mitt

Plush Wash Mitt Plush Wash Mitt
Plush Wash Mitt

Microfibre Wash Mitt

Ultra Soft Wash Mitt Ultra Soft Wash Mitt
Ultra Soft Wash Mitt

Lambswool Wash Mitt

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 1 HKS KAMI-152.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Detailing Bucket
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Detailing Bucket and Wash Mitt

The specific route that you take around the vehicle is, believe it or not, the last safety measure to consider when contact washing.

Again, there’s a science to the process - the safest possible way of washing any vehicle is to take on the cleaner portions first to prevent spreading contamination from the dirtiest areas to the cleanest. We always start on the roof, before moving onto the windows and upper-sides. With those complete the bonnet and front bumper come next, and we finish up with the lower sides and rear end. Basically, this process ensures that we’re washing the car from top to bottom but also targeting the heaviest soiling first.

Always wash in straight lines, avoiding circular motions that may cause swirl marks and, once you’ve made contact with every area, you can quickly rinse away any residue left behind.

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Cleaning with Wash Mitt
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Car Cleaning with Wash Mitt
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Wash Mitt
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Cleaning with Shampoo


While it’s not a process that’s not usually carried out during routine maintenance, decontamination of paintwork and other exterior surfaces is vital periodically, especially before you polish or perform any correction process. Basically, we’re looking to make sure all surfaces are as clean as they can possibly be and avoid any sharp particles being pulled out on our machine polishing pads later (causing swirling and other unnecessary damage). In other words, we don’t want anything interfering with the later stages of our detail.

A 3-stage decon wash is designed to eradicate any engrained contamination that pre-washing and contact washing alone won’t be able to remove. These types of contamination include sharp metal particles (chiefly derived from brake dust), tar and sticky glue residues, along with environmental contamination such as the mineral or protein deposits often found in rainwater, bug splatter and bird droppings. Each requires a separate stage and a specialist product suited to the removal of that particular type of contamination.

The first decontamination stage is always using Iron Out Contaminant Remover to dissolve any ferrous metal contamination present in the paintwork. As we’ve said, these tiny iron particles can come from many sources (including train tracks and industrial fallout) but they’re mostly derived from brake dust. As we’ve already found on the wheels, there’s plenty of brake dust exposure on this particular car, probably due to heavy use on the track. But it’s also worth remembering that these pieces of hot metal shrapnel are everywhere on the roads, too. They’re literally floating around in the air, and it means that it’s extremely likely that your whole car will be exposed, not just the wheels and lower areas.

This type of contamination can only be removed chemically by dissolving it and allowing it to be rinsed away safely. Which is exactly where Iron Out comes in. This concentrated fallout remover is safe for use on all paintwork and glass, you can even see it react – when metal contamination is present the solution turns blood red, temporarily highlighting the particles while it dissolves them into safe, rinsible solute. Simply spray on, let the Iron Out work for a minute or two (without letting it dry) and rinse away the residue. For any heavily contaminated vehicles, much like this one where a little more bite is advantageous, you can lightly spread and agitate the solution with a Microfibre Applicator, Work Cloth or Polish Pad before you rinse.

Iron Out Iron Out Iron Out Iron Out Iron Out Iron Out Iron Out Iron Out Iron Out Iron Out
Iron Out

Developed as a heavy-hitting ferrous fallout remover, Iron Out is an advanced decontamination remover in a reactive gel, capable of safely and effectively erad... See product details More

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 1 HKS KAMI-178.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 1 HKS KAMI-176.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 1 HKS KAMI-180.jpg

The second stage of our decon wash deals with sticky residues and bonded tar. For this type of contamination, a powerful solvent is needed to soften the contamination, safely melting its bond with the surface. The idea is to promote a chemically reaction, breaking down and encapsulating the contamination in the solvent itself, allowing it to be safely wiped or rinsed away. This process is usually more targeted and only carried out in the areas where the contamination is present. In most cases this type of contamination will be found on the lower sides and bumpers, although in our case it’s all over.

ObliTARate Tar & Glue Remover is our product of choice here. This powerful solvent makes quick work of tar, glue, traffic cone rash and other types of sticky contamination. It can either be applied directly using a microfibre cloth or applicator, or spayed directly on the surface that needs treating. In this case, due to the extensive contamination, we chose the latter, followed by a little agitation with a Microfibre Applicator.

ObiTARate Tar & Glue Remover is quick and easy to use, the only thing to remember is that after wiping or rinsing away any sticky contamination it’s important to rewash the treated areas using your Lather Car Shampoo solution. This process ensures that any leftover solvent is neutralised and won’t make a mess of your clay bar in the next stage.

ObliTARate ObliTARate ObliTARate ObliTARate ObliTARate ObliTARate

Auto Finesse® ObliTARate tar and glue remover, is a solvent-based formula that quickly dissolves stubborn tar and glue residues and contamination on contact ev... See product details More

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 1 HKS KAMI-187.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Spot Pad
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Car Washing

The Clay Bar stage is the final part of our decon wash and designed to tackle any bonded mineral and protein deposits by physically pulling them out of surfaces. The truth is that claying isn’t a difficult process, or some sort of secret art form, but it is extremely effective. It’s one of the few detailing processes where you can actually feel the difference as you work. The surface gets smoother and smoother as you clean away the contamination.

The other misconception about using detailing clay is that it’s only for limited areas such as the bonnet or front bumper. In reality the whole exterior will be exposed to these types of contamination, so it makes sense that you’ll need to clay the whole car. You can even clay glass and wheels, removing contamination from anywhere you’ll be polishing later.

Using our Clay Bar and Glide Clay Lube is an extremely straightforward. First make sure that both the clay and the surface are suitably lubricated with Glide to prevent marring or your clay sticking. And then work a fresh piece of clay back and forth using light pressure.

Periodically folding your clay to reveal a fresh portion as and when it gets dirty, and making sure you cover every part of the paintwork is all you really need to remember. As we said you’ll feel less and less resistance in the clay as you work, and this means there will be less and less bonded contamination on the surface. What you should end up with is a super-smooth, glass-like top layer that’s ready for enhancement or correction through polishing.

Clay Bar Kit Clay Bar Kit
Clay Bar Kit

Detailing Kit

Glide Glide

Clay Lubricant

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 1 HKS KAMI-204.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Glide Clay Lubricant
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Clay Bar


After giving the car one final wash and rinse to remove any lube residue that may be left behind, we can move on to the last stage of the wet work – the drying.

Admittedly it’s a process that’s often seen as less crucial than it really is, but the truth is that you need to dry your paintwork after every detail. Not just prior to polishing or adding protection layers, but after routine maintenance, too.

The reason is that, unlike rainwater which is relatively pure, tap water (the stuff you’ve used to clean your car) is usually packed with a whole load of mineral impurities. Basically, if you leave tap water to dry naturally the water molecules will evaporate and leave the minerals all over on the surface. This is what causes water spots which may require a whole load of polishing to remove. Some harsher deposits can even cause swirl marks and scratching.

The most effective way to remove these deposits is while they’re still dissolved in the tap water and the only way to do this is to absorb them using a suitable Drying Towel. Here we’re using our super speedy Silk Drying Towel, but you can also use a plush Aqua Deluxe Dying Towel and an Ultra Plush Microfibre Towel for smaller areas such as wheels and door jambs. What’s most important here is to make sure you never skip drying on any detail and be extra thorough when mopping up drips (after you move the car) especially if you’re going to be performing any sort of paint correction.

Aqua Deluxe Aqua Deluxe
Aqua Deluxe

Microfibre Drying Towel

Ultra Plush Microfibre Ultra Plush Microfibre
Ultra Plush Microfibre

Microfibre Buffing Towel

Silk Drying Towel Silk Drying Towel
Silk Drying Towel

Microfibre Towel

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Car Drying with Silk Drying Towel

Modified Engine Bay Cleaning

Before we start on the in-depth polishing, we still need to clean that engine bay… and we may as well clean the interior first, too. Completing all this now means that all cleaning processes will be out of the way before we carry out a full inspection and test our machine polishing combos to find out what we’re really dealing with in terms of paint correction.

If we’re describing the cleaning job in this particular engine bay, the word of the day would be ‘carefully’. As we said right at the beginning of this article, this heavily tuned GT86 engine isn’t really suitable for a full wet clean… nor does it need it. So instead, we took a little more time to work our way around the bay utilising a 1:5 dilution of Verso APC. A straightforward case of spritzing on, agitating with a soft Detailing Brush and wiping away the grime using a Microfibre Work Cloth. We even removed the bonnet first to make sure we had the best possible access.

In some areas where the grime was harshest, we used our professional steam cleaner, loaded with Verso, to help break down and lift the contamination. Obviously, this is a specialist detailing tool designed to get the job done quickly, but you can get much the same results at home with a little more Verso and a bit more time on the agitation process.

Detailing Brush Trio Detailing Brush Trio
Detailing Brush Trio

Detailing Brush Set

Verso Verso

All-Purpose Cleaner (APC)

Work Cloth - (Pack of 3) Work Cloth - (Pack of 3)
Work Cloth - (Pack of 3)

Microfibre Cloth

Work Cloth Trio Work Cloth Trio
Work Cloth Trio

Microfibre Cloth

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 1 HKS KAMI-221.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Car Engine
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Verso All-Purpose Cleaner
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 1 HKS KAMI-229.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Car Engine Cleaning

Metal Finishing

In normal circumstances we may finish up the bay at the end of the detail as a part of the finishing stages. But in this case, especially after a good deep clean, there really isn’t a whole lot to do – just a little enhancement. With that in mind we decided to finish up this area before the exterior using a little Mercury Metal Polish.

Mercury is suitable for bringing back the shine on all bare metal surfaces such as exhaust tips, engine parts, wheel lips and brightwork, including alloy and stainless steel… which, as you can see, there’s plenty of here. Aftermarket trinkets aplenty!

This product is classed as a cleaner polish because it not only uses advanced diminishing abrasives to take away a microscopic layer of the top surface to reveal the lustre underneath (that’s what makes it a polish) but it also contains deep-cleansing solvents to cut through muck, greasy films and oxidation. In this particular bay we found plenty of etched-in fingerprints, along with general light scratching and tarnishing on the metallic parts. This makes perfect sense, it’s a tuner car so it stands to reason that it’s suffered from constant contact with the HKS mechanics over the years.

In any case all this can be taken care of with a little Mercury on a microfibre cloth or applicator. Just apply, spread and hand polish to a high-gloss finish.

Mercury Mercury Mercury Mercury Mercury Mercury

Mercury Metal Polish is an advanced abrasive compound developed specifically for restoring bare metal to a factory fresh finish. Suitable for use on all types... See product details More

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Mercury Metal Polish
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Metal Cleaning
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Metal Cleaning

Interior Cleaning

There’s no denying that the interior on this car is pretty sparse, it’s a stripped-out racer after all. There aren’t even any carpets! That doesn’t mean it can’t be detailed though – it’s just not the huge undertaking you’re used to seeing on most of our other big details. Far from being extremally dirty and mouldy, all we have here is a little dust and debris along with a few greasy films, all of which can be taken care of quickly and effectively using Total Interior Cleaner.

Total works in the same way as other surfactant-based cleaners. The powerful solution breaks down and encapsulates grime, allowing it to be wiped away safely using a microfibre cloth. The difference between Total and a traditional APC though - apart from the fact that it’s supplied ready-to-use - is that we’ve specially formulated this product to be gentle enough for regular use on all the surfaces and materials you’ll find inside your car. It doesn’t matter if it’s plastics, carpets, cloth and leather upholstery or rubber trim, this versatile cleaner does it all, you can safely use it time and time again, and all it leaves behind is a fresh lime scent.

The first stage of any interior detail (including this one) is using a vacuum to remove as much loose debris as possible. Think of this as like the pre-rinse on the outside – we’re removing what we can to let our detailing products get to work where they’re most needed – on the bonded, ingrained grime.

Total is used in different ways depending on the area you’re cleaning. Let’s say you’re cleaning cloth or carpet, you can spritz on Total directly, agitate with an Upholstery Brush and wipe away the residue. For hard surfaces you can either apply directly or use a microfibre cloth or Detailing Brush. As with all cleaners, agitation gets you the deepest clean possible, but it’s not designed to physically scrub, it’s merely to make sure the solution makes contact with every tiny recess and is refreshed when needed. Obviously, we can’t demonstrate all this here, because all that’s needed is a quick once over on all surfaces. In fact, the only really dirty part here was the steering wheel – but again that’s nothing a little Total and a Microfibre Work Cloth couldn’t handle.

You can learn more about the full range of interior cleaning products, the processes involved and the types of contamination you’ll usually find inside your car in our Interior Car Cleaning Guide.

Total Total Total Total Total Total Total

Auto Finesse Total is a ready to use car interior cleaner which is safe to use on all interior car surfaces. Whether you are cleaning plastic, vinyl rubber, cl... See product details More

Detailing Brush Trio Detailing Brush Trio
Detailing Brush Trio

Detailing Brush Set

Feather Tip Brushes Feather Tip Brushes
Feather Tip Brushes

Detailing Brush

Interior Detail Brush Interior Detail Brush
Interior Detail Brush

Detailing Brush

Work Cloth - (Pack of 3) Work Cloth - (Pack of 3)
Work Cloth - (Pack of 3)

Microfibre Cloth

Work Cloth Trio Work Cloth Trio
Work Cloth Trio

Microfibre Cloth

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 1 HKS KAMI-237.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 1 HKS KAMI-245.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Interior Cleaning
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 1 HKS KAMI-240.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Interior Cleaning

Paintwork Inspection

Now we can get on with the paint correction and, as always, we start with a full visual inspection. The idea here is to gauge the extent of correction or restoration that may be needed to remove defects and to look out for any areas that shouldn’t be polished such as repairs. On a car of this type, it’s particularly important because, as we know, this one has been used on the road as well as the track, it may well have picked up some battle scars that have been repaired along the way. When you don’t know the history of the vehicle this kind of inspection is always important as you don’t want to polish away any smart repairs or paintwork blending to reveal hard edges that have been masked by the bodyshop.

Because we’re working indoors, we switch off the main lights and inspect each panel using a Swirl Spotter Detailing Light. Using this kind of intense light source imitates direct sunshine to highlight any defects that may be present. What we’re looking for is blemishes in the paintwork such as swirl marks and light scratching that are possible to correct through polishing. The worst of these defects always dictates the product needed to level down the surface for removal.

Using a detailing light for inspection (and periodically during your polishing) helps us to see the kind of blemishes that may be invisible to the eye in normal conditions but will show up outside in the sun or under streetlights. The inspection process is where we map out the car to make a note of what kind of correction may be required for each area.

In our case the defects are reasonably consistent with what we’d expect from a company race/demo car that has been shipped halfway across the world. Show cars and demo cars are pretty similar in this respect, they are exposed to much more physical contact than most normal cars, not only when it comes to the modifying side (where tuners spend plenty of time pawing over every part) but in the general cleaning, too. It makes sense that this type of vehicle will be constantly wiped down and washed for events or between track sessions, and the wash processes may not be quite as safe as the ones we perform as professional detailers. The result, as we can see here, is a lot of heavy swirling and light scratching, and that’s only made more obvious on a dark paintjob.

Dealing with carbon fibre is also another important note here. Like most of the aftermarket parts you’ll find out there, the type of carbon fibre we have here isn’t ‘bare’ carbon. Instead, the surfaces are clear coated for protection. This means that they can be treated in the same way as paintwork, all we’re looking to achieve is to correct the top layer of lacquer, not polish the actual carbon underneath. It’s the same with most modern paintjobs, with 2-stage paintwork the lacquer on top is the bit being polished, not the colour coat underneath. We will of course test or compounds on the carbon fibre separately, but as we can see the same level of defects as the paintwork, it's extremely likely that the same combo of compound and machine polishing pad will be needed, even if the machine speed needs to be slowed down a little to suit. If you’re worried about the polishing process when it comes to carbon parts, check out our full guide – How To Restore And Protect Carbon Fibre.

Swirl Spotter Swirl Spotter Swirl Spotter Swirl Spotter Swirl Spotter Swirl Spotter
Swirl Spotter

The ultimate professional detailing light, the Auto Finesse Swirl Spotter is an indispensable tool for taking your paint enhancement and correction processes t... See product details More

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 1 HKS KAMI-247.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Swirl Spotter
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 1 HKS KAMI-252.jpg

Paint Depth

After our thorough visual inspection, we also use a paint depth gauge to give us an indication of how much physical paint there is on the vehicle. This is another process used by professionals (when the full history of the vehicle isn’t clear) to determine how much clearcoat - or topcoat on older single-stage paintjobs - is left to polish. This process also helps to further highlight any repairs or thin edge areas that should be avoided. Any disproportionally thick areas could mean a repair is present, and any extremely thin areas will mean there’s not enough paint to polish, in both cases we’ll avoid these areas as much as possible. If we’re dealing with an older car or show car for example, one that may have had regular rounds of machine polishing over the course of its life, we’ll need to check that the thickness of the paint overall is sufficient for polishing. We don’t have that particular problem here, but modern and modified cars come with their own challenges, the reason why we always multiple readings on each panel.

In our case it’s also extremely likely that the whole car has been repainted, so there will be plenty there to polish… but then again it could have just been the kit that’s colour coded, right? So, that’s why we check all the panels, the edges, and the lacquered carbon parts to make sure the process is safe.

It all sounds very scary of course, but don’t forget that we’re only taking away a few microns for any paint correction process and on the vast majority of vehicles will have more than clearcoat or paint to polish. In fact, it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll ever find a problem on your own car that you don’t already know about. But as professionals we always check. As expected, there’s no problems with this one.

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Paint Depth
Masking Tape Masking Tape Masking Tape Masking Tape Masking Tape Masking Tape
Masking Tape

A good quality masking tape is a must have when using a car polisher on paint work and carrying out paint correction. The Auto Finesse® masking tape is perfect... See product details More

Masking and Preparation

The last step is to identify any vulnerable edges and trim that we need to avoid contact with. Here we’re not just looking to protect the thinner paint typically found on panel edges, along with vehicle parts such as plastic trim, window rubbers, headlights, roof rails and grilles that may suffer from compound staining. But we also mask these areas to protect our polishing pads from catching and being damaged during the polishing process. Areas that we can’t mask - such as those covered in decals that we don’t want to remove we’ll simply have to avoid.

In this case, to make our life a little easier and protect from dust when we’re polishing, we fully masked the windows, took off the wheels and removed a few parts (such as the huge splitter) to polish separately. It also gives us the chance to clean up and paint a few rusty bolts and other bits and pieces so they don't detract from the overall results - not a job for every single detail of course, but here it pays to go the extra mile.

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 1 HKS KAMI-246.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 2 HKS KAMI-2.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 1 HKS KAMI-256.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 3 HKS KAMI-4.jpg

Compound Testing

Now onto the polishing part, and the first stage is to perform a few tests over the various areas of paintwork and carbon to determine the correct compound and pad combo to use to correct the defects.

As with all polishing process we’re looking for the finest possible compound and pad to cut through the blemishes, while preserving the top layer as much as possible. Taking away just enough of the clear coat to cut away the defects and refine the surface to flawless is the aim here, we don’t want to take any more than is needed.

We’ll start by testing the finest compound and, if that doesn’t cut away the defects, step up to a coarser compound and so on until the defects are removed. We can then determine if the surface needs further refinement by working back through finer and finer compounds. If we’re dealing with light defects that can be removed with a fine compound, and the surface is suitably refined when finished, often a single-stage (one grade of polish and pad) enhancement is all that’s needed. If however the defects require coarser compounds to cut through and the resulting surface needs more refinement to achieve the best finish, what we’re looking at is a multi-stage correction. In other words, it's the testing part (backed up by a little experience) that determines the level of the correction.

The other reason we always test is because, even with experience, it’s difficult to determine the hardness of the paintwork. Softer paintwork will require less polishing to cut than harder paintwork, and this can vary from car to car according to the age, manufacturer, where it’s come from and if it’s been resprayed. Testing is the only way to know for sure what effect your combo will have on the surface. You can learn more about how compounds work in our full article - The Basic Guide To Machine Polishing.

Finally in most cases we’ll use the same combos over the majority of the vehicle to tackle the worst of the common defects, but you may find isolated areas with harder paint or more extreme defects where you’ll need to step up to a coarser compound to achieve the best results.

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Car Polishing

We’re using our Professional Series Compounds for the best results here, and that’s for a couple of reasons. These took us years to develop, and they use the most advanced diminishing abrasives available for a wider range of cut and better finishing down than can be achieved with traditional products. Often, you’ll find more refinement and gloss in the finish than you’d would with any other equivalent compound. Second, these compounds contain no waxes or fillers so they wont block the chemical surface bonded needed when you’re applying a ceramic coating for protection in the later stages of your detail. Of course, we may not be using a coating at the end of ours, and it’s not a problem with a wax or sealant that physically bonds (or clings on to) the surface, but it gives up the option when we decide what protection we’ll be using here.

As for the defects themselves? Well, after our testing and as we suspected, we found that the heavy swirling on the paintwork required our No.36 Heavy Cutting Compound (with a No.36 Heavy Cutting Pad) to level down the surface effectively. From here we found that we could refine the paint to near flawless using our No.23 Medium Polishing Compound and a No.23 Medium Polishing Pad, and then finish down to flawless with the best possible gloss level using our No.15 Fine Finishing Compound and a No.15 Fine Finishing Pad. So, in short, the paintwork would require a 3-stage correction process. Not a small job but one that was expected for this level of surface damage.

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Screenshot 2024-01-03 at 17.00.57.png
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Car Polishing
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 3 HKS KAMI-6.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Car Polisher
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 2 HKS KAMI-22.jpg

Machine Polishing

Of course, our testing took place on large panels, over the worst defects, using our 5-inch Professional Series Machine Polishing Pads on our full bodied DPX Dual Action Machine Polisher. But during the real-life polishing process over the whole car other aspects will always have to be considered.

For smaller areas where space was tight – areas such as the pillars and taillights - we used the same Pro compounds but with smaller machines and corresponding pads for practicality. These included our MPX Dual Action Polisher and firm, medium or soft 3-inch Revitalise Spot Pads, which were all ideal for various parts of the job here. Detailing is about adapting to the task in hand, and that’s exactly what we expected to do over the many parts and materials used on the exterior of this car.

As for the polishing route? Well, as long as you complete the whole car, that’s largely down to personal preference. We tend to go one panel at the time, periodically checking the results with our Swirl Spotter. The results speak for themselves here.

MPX Dual Action Polisher MPX Dual Action Polisher
MPX Dual Action Polisher

Car Polishing Machine

Revitalise Spot Pads Revitalise Spot Pads
Revitalise Spot Pads

Polishing Pads

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Spot Pad
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Car Polishing
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 2 HKS KAMI-25.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Polished Car
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Polished Car Headlight
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Polished Car
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Finished HKS KAMI-6.jpg

Wheel Finishing & Protection

It’s not a task we have to carry out on every single detail but in this case it was obvious that the wheels could benefit from an intensive machine polish, too.

Wheel polishing and enhancement can be carried out by hand or machine, much the same as your paintwork, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the powdercoat or lacquer finish on most wheels will be designed to be tougher than other paint, but it can actually be harder OR softer. Because the defects on these aftermarket Advan rims was reasonably extensive we opted for the machine polishing route using our No.23 Medium Polishing Compound to cut defects and refine to a great finish in a single stage. On the vast majority of details, we’d usually opt for a little Tripple All-in-One Polish on a Microfibre Applicator or Polish Pad instead of a full machine polish. This product is infused with carnauba wax, so it not only cleans and refines and shines in one easy-to-use package, but it leaves a little protection from the elements along the way.

Speaking of protection, with the rest of the car finished we’d soon able to choose our exterior protection product. But with the wheels off for the best access to the barrels and rear of the spokes we started the process of adding protection right here on the wheels, an area that’s often forgotten during routine details.

Now, being essentially connected to the brakes, wheels have to endure extreme temperatures, especially as it turns out, on a car like this. That’s just one of the reasons why we’re using our Mint Rims Wheel Wax. This synthetic sealant is designed just for wheels, and it leaves behind the most durable protection with acres of shine. Not only does this product protect your wheels with extreme water beading though, being designed to resist high temperatures it offers the kind of glossy protection that lasts and lasts.

Mint Rims is also extremely straightforward to apply using a Foam or Microfibre Applicator. A little goes a long way with this one so just apply a very thin layer over the whole wheel - inside and out - and then buff to a high shine with a Microfibre Work Cloth. You even can top up and add more layers after any maintenance washes in the future. A true kitbag essential for the world’s wheel lovers!

Mint Rims Mint Rims Mint Rims Mint Rims Mint Rims Mint Rims
Mint Rims

The Auto Finesse® Mint Rims alloy wheel wax is the ultimate protection for alloy wheels, with durable synthetic waxes, designed to withstand the extreme temper... See product details More

Polish Pads Polish Pads
Polish Pads

Microfibre Polishing Pads

Tripple Tripple

Cleaner Wax (All In One Car Polish)

Work Cloth - (Pack of 3) Work Cloth - (Pack of 3)
Work Cloth - (Pack of 3)

Microfibre Cloth

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 2 HKS KAMI-37.jpg

Tyre Dressing & Protection

Finally, we can apply our chosen tyre dressing – Satin Tyre Creme. Admittedly it’s a finishing job that we usually leave for right at the end of most details, but it’s also a task that we can carry out even more effectively before we bolt the wheels back on… and on both sides of the tyres, too.

Aside from a physical barrier to the elements, this water-based dressing adds a subtle satin sheen along with UV protection to prevent fading and browning in the future. It also nourishes your tyres, even below the surface, and all that’s with just a single application. You see, Satin comes with the advantage that you can also build up a few more layers if you prefer more of a wet-look gloss. So, with Satin you get to choose your finish for every detail.

Here we’re utilising a contoured Tyre and Trim Applicator to make sure we cover the whole sidewall, a process that takes a matter of seconds but will make a huge difference to the overall impact of the job.

Satin Satin Satin Satin Satin Satin Satin Satin

Satin tyre dressing is a cutting-edge innovation in the world of finishing products, simply because it allows you to decide on exactly the level of gloss you r... See product details More

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Screenshot 2024-01-03 at 18.03.34.png
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 2 HKS KAMI-40.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Car Wheel

Exterior Protection

For the paintwork and carbon fibre parts we’re actually carrying out a two-stage protection process for this detail, first with Graphene Filler Wax Liquid and then a coat of Illusion Show Car Wax over the top. The reason for this is that we looking to add a super hard and durable surface protection layer from the Graphene but, although this product will quickly and easily add a whole load of jaw-dropping wet-look gloss, we’re also looking for the warm glow and extra-deep gloss that only a top-end natural show wax like Illusion can provide.

First the Graphene, and as the name would suggest, this product actually contains graphene, a chemical form of carbon that, on a molecular level, is harder than steel. This easy-to-apply liquid sealant bonds to the clearcoat instantly, essentially forming a tough honeycomb surface made up of a single layer of carbon atoms. This characteristic gives the top layer the ultimate in toughness and flexibility all at the same time. In fact, a layer of graphene is significantly harder than the clearcoat underneath. And if you think that all sounds a little scientific, rest assured that it is.

We’ve also developed this high-performance sealant to be extremely easy to use like a liquid wax - just apply a small amount to each panel using a Foam Applicator and then spread and buff to a high shine using a clean microfibre cloth. When used for the task we’ve primarily designed it for - as a stand-alone protection product - Graphene will offer up to 8-months of protection and the most extreme water beading and repellence. This is what makes Graphene one of our most popular finishers ever.

Graphene Graphene Graphene Graphene Graphene Graphene

An advanced liquid paintwork sealant developed to add extreme gloss and durable, ultra-hydrophobic protection that lasts for up to 12-months, Graphene Filler L... See product details More

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Screenshot 2024-01-03 at 18.58.56.png

But as we said, that’s not the whole story here. We love the look of a natural wax, especially on carbon fibre and dark paintwork. So, as obtaining the best look has a slight edge over durability and performance in protection, we also added a coat of one of our favourite hard waxes - Illusion Show Wax.

When it comes to the protection you use, how the vehicle is used and the look of the finish you’re trying to achieve will always dictate the products you choose. If it's a daily driver you may opt for a 12-month durable ceramic coating like our Caramics Paintwork Protection Kit, or just leave it right here with the Graphene, both will give a slick, shiny finish and amazing water behaviour. For a demo car that’s chiefly designed to look its best, though? Well, it’s no secret that we love the look of a wax.

Now although natural waxes bond in the same way as sealants it’s the tiny impurities in the blend that bend the light passing through them to give the warm glow and depth. It’s a sought-after characteristic that’s extremely difficult to replicate in a man-made product like a coating or a sealant. Illusion is just one of the options we have for this. But with 48% T1 Grade Brazilian carnauba - an extremely high solid wax content - this product will add a deep wet-look finish and offer protection that lasts for up to 6-months. You can see why it’s a real favourite among show car owners!

As for application, in a controlled environment like this, applying our Illusion over the whole vehicle before buffing off after 20-minutes or so won’t cause any problems. In this case we’re using a super-soft Wax Spot Pad on our Handi Puck, but you could choose a Waxmate XL if you prefer. If you’d like to make life easier at home though, we recommend applying and buffing off one panel at a time. If you’re just using the wax as a stand-alone protection product it’s usually a good idea to add a second coat for even more gloss and protection, but this needs to bond to the first thin layer, so always wait 3-4 hours in-between for the first layer to cure.

The most important part when it comes to adding a hard wax is to get it on the in small overlapping circles, and to try and spread the wax as thinly and evenly as possible. You only need a very thin layer over the surface, any more than that will be removed when you buff, so you’ll just be wasting your wax. Here we're using a Micro Tweed Microfibre Towel to bring our wax layer to a rich, deep gloss. This cloth designed specifically for removing wax residues as safely as possible and is constructed from a special microfibre weave to collects residues in the pockets to help prevent clogging.

Illusion Illusion

Show Car Wax

Handi Puck Handi Puck
Handi Puck

Foam Applicator

Micro Tweed Micro Tweed
Micro Tweed

Microfibre Cloth

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Screenshot 2024-01-03 at 19.04.09.png
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Car Wax Applying
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Applying Car Wax
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In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Polished Car

Preparing For Finishing

Final finishing is one of the most important processes in detailing because it’s here where you get to add those small final touches that can add up to make a huge difference to the overall impact of your detail. It’s the bit just before you hand back the keys to the owner, or stand back and admire what you’ve achieved on your own car.

Before we can add our own finishing touches though, we have to get the masking off, and the car back together. We also added a few new parts like carbon fibre side splitters and intake horns at this stage, and of course, used our freshly painted bolts to get everything back together.

It’s an important part of the overall process, a bit like cleaning your windows or dressing your tyres in the final stages, largely because you’re helping to prevent any imperfections from detracting, or at least drawing the eye, from other more important aspects of the detail, such as all the paintwork you’ve just refined to perfection. Taking the extra time with few simple tricks, even if it’s just painting some bolts or adding a new set of valve caps, will always be one of the greatest ways to push the overall job to the next level.

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Car Masking
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Car Detailing
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 3 HKS KAMI-18.jpg

The Finishing Touches

Every detail is different, and what's left to do at this point will always be dictated by the specific car. It could be an older vehicle where a little Revive Trim Dressing will be required to bring some faded matte plastic trim back to life or you may have a significant amount of brightwork that could do with some attention with a little Mercury Metal Polish. We always decide on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis and choose the best product for every situation. Now, although there are common staples we tend finish nearly every detail with – namely cleaning the glass inside and out, and dressing the tyres… the last of which we’ve already done. There are a few other elements on this particular Japanese monster to be perfected. But, rest assured that these are extremely simple jobs that take next to no time at all.

First up the door jambs. We found these areas to be unusually well kept for a race car and free of any significant damage that would require machine polishing… but that doesn’t mean they can’t be quickly enhanced and protected.

Tripple All-in-One Polish is the correct product for this particular task. Classed as a ‘cleaner polish’, this advanced compound uses both abrasives and deep-cleansing solvents to lightly refine paintwork, removing minor defects and cutting through oxidation in the clearcoat. It also leaves behind a layer of wax protection giving the finish plenty of added gloss. The fact that Tripple cleans, polishes and protects gives it extra versatility and characteristics that go above and beyond a traditional polish, the reason why this product is denoted as an ‘all-in-one’.

The diminishing abrasives contained in Tripple break down easily so they can be worked through by hand as well as via a machine polisher, making it an extremely useful detailing essential. Here we’re just using a little on a microfibre Polish Pad on the door jambs, lightly working it into the surface, letting it haze and then buffing off the residue. But it doesn’t have to stop with the smaller tasks on every detail. You can easily polish a whole car (by hand or machine) with Tripple, it’s the best all-in-one polish around for simple enhancement details. Paintwork, carbon, wheels, gloss plastics, Tripple does it all!

Tripple Tripple Tripple Tripple Tripple Tripple Tripple Tripple

The ultimate all-in-one car polish, Tripple is designed to clean, refine, glaze and protect paintwork in minimal time, and in one simple step. An impeccable en... See product details More

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 3 HKS KAMI-28.jpg

One other issue we just had to address was a few bare metal surfaces on the outside, namely the exhaust tailpipe and the new alloy induction cones for the front bumper. After all the cleaning, and the fact that the cones are new, these weren’t particularly dirty, but with light surface scratching and a little oxidation they could be easily brought to more of a show car shine.

We tackled these in exactly the same way as all the alloy parts in the engine bay, with a little elbow grease and a small amount of Mercury Metal Polish on a microfibre cloth. These are small details that certainly add up. When it comes to detailing the details really do matter.

Mercury Mercury Mercury Mercury Mercury Mercury

Mercury Metal Polish is an advanced abrasive compound developed specifically for restoring bare metal to a factory fresh finish. Suitable for use on all types... See product details More

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Day 3 HKS KAMI-29.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Polished Car

The last part of our finishing stage is always cleaning the glass inside and out using Crystal Glass Cleaner. We leave this step until the very end of our detail because it's almost inevitable that the glass will have picked up some dust, fingerprints and a little product overspray while we've been busy completing the rest of the car. In other words, perfecting all the glass surfaces (including the mirrors) is one of those quick professional touches that has a huge impact on the overall finish.

Crystal is fast-flashing solvent-based formula designed to cut through sticky residues and safely lift away dirt and dust. This allows any contamination to be wiped away without leaving streaks or smears. Just a light mist and a buff is all that’s needed here – just don’t forget those corners.

Another pro great trick with Crystal is to use a Superior Waffle cloth for your wiping and buffing. We’ve developed this premium microfibre for the most effective glass cleaning by designing a special weave for the safest removal of contamination. The special air pockets in the material pick up dirt, grit, residues and larger particle debris, keeping them away from the surface and offering a smear-free finish. The ultimate final finishing touch before we hand back the keys!

Mercury Mercury

Metal Polish

Superior Waffle Superior Waffle
Superior Waffle

Microfibre Cloth

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Crystal Glass Cleaner

The Results

So, that’s our big detail done and dusted, and we hope you like the in-depth, step-by-step explanation of exactly what we did, and the products we used.

You can adapt this guide and use some of the products and processes for your next detail. In the meantime though, here’s the results of ours…

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Finished HKS KAMI-24.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Finished HKS KAMI-56.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Finished HKS KAMI-53.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Polished Car
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Finished HKS KAMI-51.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Polished Car
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Finished HKS KAMI-20.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Finished HKS KAMI-57.jpg
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Car Engine
In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Inside of the Car

See more of our big details and even more in-depth guides in the Guides Section Of Our Blog.

In The Detail: HKS Toyota GT86 - Finished HKS KAMI-36.jpg