When someone mentions a ‘rare vehicle’ it’s not hard to instantly think of the most exclusive Italian supercars with one-of-one editions. However, I’m sure when you hear ‘Renault Clio’ the word rare doesn’t even belong in the same sentence – I mean, they’re everywhere. But there is a version of the Renault Clio that is rare and also completely bonkers. Of course this would be the wide-bodied Renault Sport Clio V6. A group-B Rally car styled body, a 3L V6 engine where the baby seat would normally be found and a current market value that is continuously increasing makes the Clio V6 one very cool and sought-after little hatch.
The Phase 1 example we are featuring is probably one of the rarest of the rare when it comes to the French market, why? Well, this Phase 1 V6 is finished in ‘Iliade Blue’ which was quite a common colour for the Phase 2 facelift V6, but there were only eight cars sold to the UK market in this colour for the Phase 1, that’s right, eight. To go even further, only five of that original eight remain. The example worked upon here also has a mere 2000 original miles, on a vehicle which is seventeen years old and the owner decided that the chassis wasn’t quite up to his standard so every single nut and bolt underneath the vehicle has been removed, cleaned or replaced – you could literally eat your dinner off of it (see photo’s at the bottom of this blog). Our task was to ensure the ‘Iliade Blue’ paintwork was as perfect as could possibly be to ensure this is cemented as one of, if not the finest examples currently known to exist.
So, let’s begin.
Just like any of our other features and detailing services it would normally begin by cleaning the wheels, arches and engine compartment, but this Clio V6 was so perfectly presented underneath these areas needed nothing at all. So for this vehicle we began by cleaning and rinsing the door shuts before a thorough pressure rinse of the bodywork. As the car had been sat in a workshop in the lead up to this service it was covered in a layer of dust but otherwise was in fairly reasonable shape. A layer of foam further aided in the breakdown of the surface contaminants whilst a detailing brush was used for the gaps, grills and generally awkward places where the wash mitts may not have access.
Another rinse was followed by a two bucket wash and the chemical stages of the decontamination process; tar removal and iron fillings – each using their own dedicated products. Rinsing between stages and then once again before moving the car indoors, the Clio V6 was then claybarred to remove any other bonded contaminants that the chemical treatments could not quite remove. The image below shows the lifted contamination from only one half of the roof.
Once the clay process was complete, the car was dried off using both drying towels and warm filtered air to eliminate any persistent drips and moved onto our scissor lift where it would remain for the duration of its Correction Detail.
All delicate rubbers, plastics, grills and just about any other areas that could be damaged by the polishing processes were taped off meticulously; the wheels were also covered to prevent dust. We removed the radiator grill, tail lights, side repeater indicators and also the washer jets from the vehicle to gain access to every inch of paint. The owner had removed the badges ready for us before the vehicle was delivered, which saved a little time in removing the sticky foam normally left behind.
Paint thickness readings were averaging approximately 100microns across the car with some areas having received some body shop work. The owner requested the car to look as flawless as possible without compromising the integrity of the paint (i.e. never being able to have it machine polished again due to polishing the clear coat to a minimal thickness whilst removing very deep defects). We found the usual swirling, scratches, random deep scratches, buffer trails, sanding marks and a fair amount of overspray across much of the car.
The machine polishing process was started with a cutting stage where our objective was to eliminate as many defects in this stage as possible. Multiple machine polishers were used to ensure every edge, section and panel was completed without compromise. Defects that were assessed to be too deep to remove were tackled by a sanding process o reduce the visual impact of them considerable before then machine polishing away the scratches left by the abrasive papers. Whilst this did not remove the defect entirely, it would become almost invisible until pointed out or caught in a very direct light source. We also used abrasive paper to remove a bodyshop masking line that was found on the offside side skirt, shown here:
Using our many purposeful spot lights we were able to remove an approximate 90% of the swirls, scratches and other paint defects in this first step. The second machine polishing stage (also known as the finishing or refining stage) removed the haziness that the initial cutting imparts and provided an extra clarity and gloss to the paint to gain an extra 5%. In total, the Clio V6 underwent an approximate 55-60 hours of machine polishing alone to achieve the 95% correction level, the remaining 5% were deemed too deep to safely remove or they were defects that were not salvageable at all – such as an area we found in which it had appeared someone had previously burnt through an edge and attempted to blend in some blue colour to minimise the appearance.
Even though we were aiming for a ‘Perfect Finish’, sometimes this is only achievable within the limits of the vehicle itself. As said earlier, this service was to be completed responsibly and professionally to achieve the greatest finish we could – but from what we had to work safely with.
An airline was used to blow away any polishing dust before removing the polish itself after each set, then an alcohol wipe was carried out to remove oils that could hide any remaining defects, once satisfied with the results we continued to the next until the car was completed. We also only used brand new microfibers during the second polishing stage to eliminate the potential of any trapped particles causing marring. The tail lights were polished before being refitted to the vehicle as well as the amber side indicators, this allowed use to polish across the full section instead of being obscured by the body of the car.
It was noticed that the washer jets had polish build up within the jet housings, a little tickle with a cocktail stick and a very nice little detail ready to be refitted to the car.
Once the polishing process was completed as a whole, an air dust down of the car was then carried out and all masking tape was removed carefully. IGL Coatings ‘Premier’ sealant was then misted onto a microfiber towel (brand new once again) and evenly spread onto each panel before using the dry side to buff to a smear free finish. IGL ‘Premier’ can provide up to six months protection from a single application and requires minimal effort. The exterior rubber trim was protected with 303 Rubber Seal Protectant whilst the remaining exterior plastics were given a treatment of Gtechniq T1 Tyre & Trim to preserve the as-new appearance of the plastics. The wheels were given a wipe over using IGL ‘Premier’ also before the tyres were dressed with Gyeon Quartz Q2Tire.
Whilst the car was raised on the lift, we polished the exhaust tips and box free of water spots and the lower control arms and other under-body components were buffed with Gyeon Quartz Q2MQuick Detailer before the car was lowered back to the ground.
The interior and exterior glass was cleaned and a small amount overspray was removed with the careful use of a glass scraper before moving onto a vacuum dusting in the interior before the plastic tub found under the bonnet was removed and wiped free of dust and some light water spots with Auto Finesse Spritz. A residue on the ABS pump (found under the plastic tub) was given some attention also, using a solvent based product to break down the residue before refitting the tub back into the cars nose.
To finalise the 70+ hour Correction Detail, the rear badges were re-installed, ensuring the areas were given an alcohol degrease first to ensure the IGL ‘Premier’ slickness did not prevent the badges from adhering.
After one very long working week, this rare piece of French ridiculousness was looking 17 years younger and it would be believed to have just rolled directly off the manufacture line straight into our studio. We were very pleased to be given the opportunity to work on this vehicle and to be a part of its history. The final piece:
And what Correction Detail would be complete without the money shot, gladly the sun was out to be able to take this photo!