Classy Cars shop in Huntington...
Classy Cars shop in Huntington Beach, California, handles some of the best collector cars in SoCal, including this perfectly restored '55 Chevy convertible. Our Mustang was a thorn among lilies.
No matter how much money is invested in performance parts and accessories, the number-one facet that most people judge a car on is the paint. It's also one of the top things that affect the perceived value of a car, particularly late-models, and it's not just because of the cost of reconditioning or respraying.
It's really a little bit of gearhead psychology at work; the condition of a car's paint can convey a lot about how it has been treated, and about the pride the owner takes in it. Has the finish been babied with the finest products? Perhaps the owner takes the same care elsewhere. Water-spotted, scratched, and oxidized? Maybe he has a lackadaisical attitude on maintenance as well. Granted, a clean and shiny car hasn't necessarily been better maintained-but it sure looks like it has. We've had many a plane-Jane driver that gathered compliments simply because we kept it clean and shiny. On top of that, we've always recouped more than the average market price when we sold it. You have got to face it: looks matter.
Jeff Jeppesen is a particular...
Jeff Jeppesen is a particular man when it comes to car washing; he uses a special de-ionized water system to eliminate spotting, and he always uses two buckets. Although our Mustang is perfectly clean, the color has a bland and dead look like it's still dusty.
On that same note, if you know how to accurately evaluate a car's mechanical condition, you can usually score the best deals on cars with "daily driver" paint. And if you know how to assess the condition of the paint, you could walk away with an easily restorable bargain. Our subject 2003 Ford Mustang GT is a prime case in point; with nearly 150,000 miles of daily Southern California commuting and sandblasting Vegas and Phoenix trips through the desert, its finish has lost most of its original luster. To top it off, it's ungaraged and often subject to lawn sprinkler sprays. But, that's typical reality for many late-model muscle cars.
Normally with neglected and battered paint, the knee-jerk reaction is a respray, but unless it's a restoration project or hanging around for the long term, the expenditure may not pay off. This Mustang is a commuter not a keeper, so sinking a couple grand or more into new paint just doesn't make sense because you may not be able to recover the investment when it's time to sell. The good news is most modern basecoat/clearcoat paints are restorable, provided the clearcoat hasn't begun to separate from the base color.
Up close, the road rash and...
Up close, the road rash and paint chips from accumulated miles are obvious. You do have to manage your expectations depending on the condition of the paint, but as bad as this is, highlighting the paint that's still there will mask a great deal of blemishes.
It won't eliminate road rash and daily commuter chips and nicks, but the best way to hide imperfections is by making the paint that is still there look great. For that, we turned to the experts at Classy Cars Auto Detailing in Huntington Beach to see what could be accomplished with easy-to-find consumer products.
You could call it a one-day makeover, but in actuality we only killed about three hours with Jeff Jeppesen at Classy Cars, and that's only because we were slowing him down with photos. If we'd left him alone, Jeppesen says he could have had the Mustang gleaming in 60-90 minutes. Your first time will likely be slower, but Jeppesen says it will quickly decrease, and each subsequent polish will also require less work. It won't look showroom perfect, but for way less investment than new paint, we can makeover our Mustang from "neglected" to "driven, but loved." From our viewpoint, that's not a bad label to have.
5 Basic Paint Care Tips From Jeff Jeppesen
Never touch your paint with your hands
Always use high-quality microfiber towels for drying and buffing
Never use your fingers when polishing, only your palm
Always use the two-bucket method when washing
Only use real car wash, never hand or dish soap
What About Single Stage Paint?
If you're still rocking a vintage single-stage finish or modern budget paint, no worries-the job's even easier. Go to PopularHotRodding.com to see how we return a junkyard Chevelle hood to a fresh-sprayed shine in 15 minutes.
We didn't haul all this stuff...
We didn't haul all this stuff down here; Classy Cars uses only Mothers' products on everything from daily drivers like ours getting a basic polish and wax, to million-dollar show cars in for hours of pampered treatment. Our recipe for this Mustang's makeover will be a simple but effective sampling of Mothers' extensive line of products. Clockwise we have Mothers' Showtime Quick Detailer, Clay Bar, Headlight Restoration, Pre-Wax Cleaner, Professional Foam Pad Polish, SynWax, and the PowerBall 4Paint. In the rear is Jeppesen's trusty Makita with the Powerball 4 Headlights.
Here's a good tip: Whenever...
Here's a good tip: Whenever polishing around rubber or plastic parts, Jeppesen recommends using painter's tape to prevent staining or getting polish and wax where you don't want it.
Step one is to use Mothers'...
Step one is to use Mothers' Clay Bar with the Showtime Instant Detailer as lube to remove as much as possible. After brief rubbing, the paint surface felt slick again, but was still dull since the Clay Bar is not intended to be a polish.