It’s always fun when the opportunity arises to get some extra staff from around our many departments over to the Auto Finesse Detailing Academy for a full-on session on something a little out of the ordinary. Come and take a little look behind the scenes on one of our favourite Detailing Sessions videos, ever. Working on a bona fide air-cooled classic…
Vol.5: The ‘80s Air-Cooled Legend
As you can probably tell, we’ve always been big fans of Stuttgart’s finest here at Auto Finesse. But then again, it’s hard for any true car nut not to be an admirer of the legendary 911, isn’t it? Especially as they come in so many flavours!
It has to be said though, that the hairy-chested, late ‘80s 964 is one of our favourites. This variant ran into the early 1990s and was even the first to offer all-wheel-drive. But, for us at least, it’s all about those beautifully-drafted, classic lines. In fact, even though its successor - the 993 - was technically the last model in the air-cooled era, for many the design of the front-end makes the 964 the last of the true classic 911s.
Of course, we’re not sure about all that, but we do know that the shapely 964 is nothing short of majestic in any colour, but there’s always been something extra stunning about this model in red. But, for that to be the case, the paintwork has to be bright, glossy and flawless… so, that’s exactly what we’ll be working on in this mega 964 session.
The Key Stages
This particular coupe wasn’t horrendously filthy for a car that actually gets used, and it was clear that it has been well looked after by the current owner. The main concerns here were the defects most noticeable on closer inspection – namely the swirl marks inflicted over the decades and decades of washing. There’s also the case of bringing the slightly faded paintwork back to life, a common problem on any ‘80s car, especially a red one.
With that in mind, the three key stages to highlight this time around are the paint correction, cleaning the retro, light-coloured leather interior, and performing the main wash stages safely, without inflicting any more swirls that we’d have to polish out later.
But, before we can do any of that, as always, we start with the wheels. As we’d be carrying out full decontamination on the bodywork latter, it’s a good opportunity here to do the same for the wheels. For this we use Iron Out Contaminant Remover to chemically dissolve any metal particles (chiefly found in brake dust) that have embedded themselves into the surfaces. Brushing-in a liberal helping of Iron Out also gives some extra bite for cleaning and degreasing the heaviest grime. Just think of this process as a great occasional decon wash for your wheels.
On to the bodywork, and while this isn’t a daily driver by any means, it does get used regularly in all weathers. So, as with any car that’s seen a bit of lively tarmac action over winter, the pre-wash is likely the most important stage.
As always, the idea is to remove the worst of the grime and contaminants before you actually touch the vehicle, this safe way of washing is the only way of cutting out the swirl-marks.
Before tackling a pre-wash though, it’s advisable to target any the grimy areas in the engine bay, shuts, under fuel flaps and door jambs. A great product for this (and one that’s safe on paintwork) is Eradicate Engine Degreaser. Using a soft FeatherTip brush to agitate a few spritzes of Eradicate (and then rinsing away) will cleanse these areas first to prevent grime from running out later.
The first stage of the main pre-wash should always be using a pre-cleaner to break down the worst grime, allowing it to be rinsed away safely. Citrus Power Bug & Grime remover is a master at dissolving this kind of heavy soiling, suspending it in the solution so that, when you rinse, it doesn’t drag along the surface of the paint. Citrus Power is also safe on wax and sealant layers, which may not be a concern here, but it makes this product ideal for regular maintenance washes later.
The second pre-wash stage of any full detail is always using Avalanche Snow Foam. Again, this citrus-based solution will linger and break down grime on every panel, but it’s also designed to work itself into awkward panel gaps and under arches, removing dirt and dust as it goes. Simply apply to the whole vehicle (from the top down using your Foam Lance) and rinse away, being sure to flush out all the panel gaps, and under the arches.
Finally, after this double dose of pre-washing goodness, we can safely make contact with the vehicle to remove any other grime. It’s still important here to use a 2-bucket method (a bucket of shampoo, and a bucket of clean water to rinse out your mitt between passes before taking on more shampoo) when contact washing. It’s also important to use the correct cleaning agent. Lather Car Shampoo is a powerful cleaner, but also contains special lubricants, these helps the broken-down grime to slip safely off of the surface of the paint without inflicting swirl marks.
With the wash carried out safely, we could move on to a full 3-step contamination, using Iron Out to remove sharp metal particles embedded in the paintwork. Followed by ObliTARate Tar & Glue Remover to dissolve any sticky residues. And finally, our Clay Pad and Glide Clay Lube combo to pull any other embedded contaminants out of the surface.
Paint Correction and Finishing
When it comes to paint correction, testing is crucial on any car, otherwise how will you know what you’re cutting and polishing? Spotting the defects with a light source, along with finding the correct combo of compound and pad to eradicate them aren’t the only important parts here though. Making sure there’s enough paint to safely polish is job numero uno.
The idea is to map out the car in your mind, making certain of which areas need more intense correction, and if there has been any repairs, low spots where defects may have been polished out, or any blow-ins/blending of new paint where polishing may reveal hard edges. For this it’s crucial to use a paint depth gauge to find where the paint is thicker or thinner, along with your light source, to visually inspect the whole surface.
On an older car like this (especially a sports car), a thorough inspection is even more important, in many cases even the owner won’t know the full history of a classic car, and there could be all sorts of hidden issues. It’s common for any classic car, even in ‘original paint’, to have had a few repairs and touch-ups that may need to be avoided… so, there’s always plenty to look out for.
As it turns out, this little red 911 has had a little paint over the years and there were couple of areas to avoid polishing too intensely. For the most part though, we were looking to knock out the worst of the defects using our Revitalise No:2 Polishing Compound, on medium foam (Revitalise No:2) pads. And, to further refine the paint, we then utilised Revitalise No:3 Refining Compound on soft (Revitalise No:3) pads.
This 2-stage correction was extremely effective over most of the car, although some of the areas required a 3-stage correction using our Revitalise No:1 Restoring Compound first… that’s just the nature of paint correction, it’s common to find that processes need to be adapted for different areas.
All these products are specifically designed to be at their best using our DPX Dual Action Polisher, and are either available separately, or together as part of our complete Revitalise System Kit V2 kit.
To finish we prepared the surface using Rejuvenate Paintwork Cleanser, our glazed-based abrasive which has been specifically designed to act as a base to enhance our Signature Waxes. And, as for the actual wax? The perfect product for older paint types is our Passion Luxury Car Wax, which is blended using 45% T1 Brazilian Carnauba to leave behind a deep, wet-look shine. The results really do speak for themselves here!The final finishing on the paintwork is where it all comes together with acres of gloss and a whole load of protection. For this German icon, only the warm glow of the finest wax protection would do.
Getting inside for the final key stage, we’d have to cover the delicate task of cleaning that 30-odd year-old leather interior.
The best way to start any interior detail is at the back with your vacuum cleaner, on a coupe like this, start with the parcel shelf and work forward. Then you can break out your cleaning products, starting on the headlining and pillars, and move downwards throughout the vehicle. But, as we said, the main concern here is tackling the leather, and there’s no denying that deep-cleaning light coloured hide can be a daunting task. But, the good news is that it’s actually simple on any leather if you’re using the correct products.
Hide Leather Cleanser is a mild formula that targets ground-in grime, stains and even dye-transfer from clothing (especially jeans). This can be sprayed directly on the surface and gently agitated using an Upholstery Brush to pull out the most deeply ingrained stains, dirt and oils. Hide may be a mild solution, but this glycerine-based product is extremely effective on the most sensitive surfaces, making it perfect for refreshing the more classic cars, as well as the most up-to-date motors.
After using Hide Leather Cleaner, we also recommend Hide Leather Conditioner, a wax and lanolin enriched crème that restores the original colour and nourishes the leather from within. This simple-to-use product leaves behind a satin-matte finish, making the leather look like it’s come straight from the factory.
As you can see, after a fair amount of detailing it’s safe to say that the little 964 came out extremely well. You can see the full detail, including the other products involved in getting this German classic show ready, in the video at the top of the page.