Classic Car Show Preparation [Step-by-Step Detailing]

How Do You Wash a Classic Car?

We spend a lot of money on our cars. They’re crucial for taking us from point A to point B, they’re a status symbol, and a mode of transportation that feels like a home away from home. A classic car may not exactly be as functional as a day-to-day sedan or SUV, but more of a status symbol. Not everyone owns a classic car, so if you do, it’s important to keep it clean and in perfect condition.

When it comes to classic car shows, which usually take place in summer, the stakes are high. Your precious automobile is competing against other immaculately maintained classic cars, and a smudge or water stripe can change judges’ perception in an instant.

Most classic car owners use enclosed auto transport to ship their cars to shows. Why? Because they can detail the car before it is loaded into the truck, and just buff it up when it arrives. That way, they don’t have to drive it, thus keeping the engine spotless and the body free of road debris and the effects of the elements.

Ultimately, judges look for classic cars to be as immaculate as possible. That means they want to see less-than-perfect original engines, chassis, interiors and bodywork. Judges favor all original parts and bodywork over spectacularly restored vehicles, because it shows the durability of the vehicle and how well it has been cared for.

No matter the condition of your car – as far as a small scratch or a scuffed steering wheel goes – bringing a car to a car show clean can make a great difference. The standard car wash won’t do when it comes to classic cars.

classic car

How to Wash and Detail a Classic Car Ahead of Your Next Car Show

Some people ask: Can you wash a classic car with just water? While it is entirely possible to clean a classic car with water alone, you will get a much better result when you learn the best way to wash dust off a classic car and how to polish a classic car. Ideally, you should use classic car detailing products for best results. You could take your vehicle to a classic car detailer nearby, but half the joy of owning a classic car is to prepare it yourself.

There are many great classic car cleaning products, so you should ideally test which ones work best for your car and in your climate. Speaking of climate, you should always wash your car in the shade if you want to avoid streaks and spots. Then, follow the steps below to detail your classic car.

Step 1:  Start by vacuuming the inside to remove any loose dirt from the door jambs and mats. You don’t want to drag the cable through puddles, or blow dust all over your clean car.

Step 2:  Next, clean the undercarriage and engine compartment, so that you can avoid grease splatters. It would be a great idea to place towels on the fenders and windshield to avoid getting degreaser on it.

Step 3:  Rinse your car before applying a classic car cleaner using a suitable mitt or sponge. Dish soap is much too strong, so do not use that! To avoid getting dirty brake dust water all over the car, start by washing the wheels first.

Step 4: Now, start from the top down. Wash it with a gentle sponge or cloth made especially for cars, and move in circular motions.

Step 5:  Use a high-quality microfiber towel or chamois to dry your car.

Step 6:  Once the tires are completely dry, you can add a tire dressing.

Step 7: Use a clay bar or an abrasive polish (always follow the packaging instructions) to scrub tree sap and other impurities from the paint. If you don’t know how to polish a car, it is best to take it to the professionals.

Step 8:  Wax your car. Apply car wax on a small section at a time, and buff that area using a clean towel.

Step 9:  Now that the exterior is clean, it is time to hit the interior. You can use an automotive carpet cleaner to clean all the carpets as per the instructions on the can. Use a leather cleaner and conditioner on leather parts, and a protectant on the rubber, plastic and vinyl surfaces to restore their sheen. While it won’t repair existing damage to your classic car, it will help delay further deterioration. It pays to opt for classic car detailing products.

Step 10: Don’t forget about the trunk! Clean it out, vacuum it, and apply protectant or leather care cream as needed.

Step 11:  Use newspaper and hot water or an automotive glass cleaner for the windows. Never use household glass cleaners and dish wash liquid as it will strip away the coating that helps water run off the windscreen to enhance visibility in bad weather conditions.

Step 12:  Finally, check the details under the hood – distributor caps, replaceable filters, wires and spark plugs, radiator caps and so on.

classic car

Preparing Your Car for a Classic Car Show

Now that your car is clean, it is all ready for a car show. The next part of the battle is to get it to the car show clean.

You could drive there in the car, but you probably don’t want to put more miles on it. Alternatively, you could tow it and bring along a box of car cleaning products and equipment to give it another once-over when you arrive there, as it is bound to pick up dirt from the road.

The best option might be to opt for classic car enclosed auto transport. Your freshly detailed car will be loaded into a truck with protective walls and a roof and secured to the truck to prevent movement. On arrival at the show, you can simply give it a light dusting and it will be good to go.