Great Britain has designed, developed and produced some of the most iconic, well remembered and beautiful vehicles that have ever driven on roads across the globe. Jaguar had the beautiful E-Type, Aston Martin had the glorious DB5 and of course, there was the classic Mini - an unlikely candidate to be nominated the second most influential car of the 20th century when you compare the compare the luxury, shapes and performance of the former mentioned vehicles. With its transverse engine position, allowing the floor pan of the car to be used predominantly for passengers and cabin space; a design that would influence other manufactures for decades to come. The addition of the Cooper and Cooper S models allowed the performance of the Mini to be increased to allow it to dominate the Monte Carlo Rally in four consecutive years 1964-1967, although the headlights were deemed against the rules and a controversial disqualification in 1966 meant the win streak was tarnished in the third year. Happily though, the love people shared for the Mini carried through and does so to this present day..
The Mini Cooper we were asked to carry out our services on was a very beautiful example. Almost in a completely original condition other than a few minor little touches the owner had added to make it his own. The owner keeps the Mini looking great, regularly maintaining and storing it in a locked garage when not in use ensures that the condition is never left to become tarnished or weathered - although in this particular case the single stage red paint had began to very slightly oxidize (fade) after undergoing a body restoration. Paint shop holograms, sanding defects and swirling were all present causing the final finish to be far less than desired. With a Mini owners club event being held locally, the owner decided to contact us to ensure that his Cooper would be one of the best presented vehicles in attendance. After arranging an assessment meeting where all options were discussed, it was decided that our Enhancement Detail would be the most suitable service when factoring in the clients requirements and time schedules available to us. So, lets move onto the detail itself..
The Mini was, as already mentioned, in a very presentable condition to those who would walk past and admire, although a light covering of dust and water spots in a few areas such as the roof and lower splash areas could be seen under closer inspection..
The detail was initiated by cleansing light dusting and general build up away from the engine compartment. using an all-purpose cleaner (APC). Any intricate and harder to reach areas were given a gentle agitation with a boars hair detailing brush prior a thorough rinse ensuring air induction and the engine electrical distributor was not overly covered in water. Any standing water was then promptly blown away to prevent ingress into any components. The bonnet of the mini was then lowered and door shuts were misted with APC and a boars hair detailing brush lifted any surface dirt present before a gentle rinse to carry away any remains. The wheels were misted with a citrus pre-cleaning agent and agitated to remove a light build up of brake dust; with the wheels having a diamond cut lip every precaution was taken to ensure the finish does not get damaged (even 'safe' wheel cleaners have their own risks with certain wheel types). Auto Finesse Iron Out was then used to remove any remaining metal particles that were adhered to the wheel surface and left for a few minutes to soak before being rinsed again thoroughly. The Mini was then covered in a layer of foam and left to dwell for 3-4 minutes to allow any loose surface dirt, dust and soiling to be carried away or softened in readiness for the initial pressure rinse of the body. Fuel filler flap was sprayed with a little APC and a small brush was used to get into very tight hinge and seal areas to ensure the best cleanse. Before the rinsing of the foam, the intricate and tighter body areas were given a gentle agitation with a boars hair detailing brush in order to loosen any collected and built up dirt. As this is a classic vehicle extra care was taken whilst rinsing to ensure that the window seals were not damaged..
The next step in preparing the Mini for its machine polishing stages would be to remove any old protection, contamination and remaining road soiling that the pre-wash left behind. To do this the Mini was firstly washed with Auto Finesse Lather shampoo and a high quality deep-pile wash mitt; adopting the two bucket method to prevent grit particles being re-transferred onto the paint and potentially causing wash marring and swirling. Working each panel one-by-one until the entire car had been gently but thoroughly washed, a rinse with clean water removed soap suds. A dedicated tar removing agent was then misted into a microfiber towel and carefully wiped over lower side and rear panels thoroughly to remove any tar spotting present. As the lower sills and areas of the vehicle had been treated with an underbody sealant, spraying the tar remover directly onto the panels would cause this underbody protection to be partially stripped - of course this is not an ideal thing to happen if the life of the Mini was to be preserved. Gladly there was little in the name of tar spotting, meaning only a light treatment of tar remover was needed. Metal particles situated on the paint surface (commonly known as 'fallout') was then treated next with Auto Finesse Iron Out. Applying the product liberally onto the entire car, it was left to dwell for approximately 5-6 minutes allowing any ferrous particles to be chemical transformed into a water soluble state. Any ferrous particles present would initiate a chemical reaction that would be highlighted by changing the clear product into a deep shade of purple. With approximately six minutes passing, a thorough pressure rinse to remove residue and any contaminants ensuring any areas where the product could have collected were given extra care. To complete the decontamination stages of this Enhancement Detail the Mini was removed of any remaining contaminants that may still be present. Stubborn metal fillings and any minor over spray areas could be removed to ensure the paint would be left perfectly smooth, clean and contamination free. A second, less concentrated layer of foam was then applied to the car in order to carry and push out any remaining product from panels gaps and other water trap areas. A final pressure rinse, this time especially thorough, then the Mini was moved indoors.
Once dried with warm filtered air and drying towels, any intricate areas such as plastic trim, window seals, bright work and other dedicates were taped of or removed from the vehicle to avoid an damage or staining from the polishing stages. The paintwork was then inspected under an arrangement of lights that are designed to highlight defects, swirls and other damage present whilst a paint thickness gauge was used to highlight any thinner areas of paint...
The Mini then underwent a two stage machine polishing process where swirling, holograms and lighter scratches would be removed in order to restore gloss, depth and clarity to the paint. The first stage would be the cutting stage where the major swirls and defects would be removed using an abrasive polish and a foam polishing pad worked by a Flex 3401 VRG dual action polisher. Our new Rupes Nano iBrid allowed us to gain access into areas that were previously unreachable; achieving a far more thorough finish for a more complete service. The black roof was a two stage base and clearcoat finish, whereas the entirety of the body was a single stage base colour finish. The single stage paint is corrected well with only 4-6 slow passed through two sets to achieve the desired finish. An amount of colour feedback was present on the polishing pad, this is completely normal whilst polishing single stage colours. Once the cutting stage had been completed, an IPA wipe removed any remaining polish residues from the panel to reveal the bare paint condition. Any deeper scratches or swirls remaining would be deemed too excessive for this type of service. However they were reduced greatly..
The second stage of polishing would be the finishing stage (more commonly known as refining) where the pads and polishes would be of a finer cutting ability in order to remove any imparted defects from the cutting stage and also to maximize the gloss levels of the paint. A fine finishing polish and a soft foam finessing pad were worked with our Flex PE14-2 150 rotary polisher. The polish was spread at a slow speed and worked at a higher setting until finally slowing each pass down to finish, this process being called 'jeweling'. With each panel/section worked with polish and buffed free of any residues with a plush microfiber towel, it was time to move onto the protection stages. Any tape was removed at this point and any polish collected on the edges were removed also.
A thin layer of Auto Finesse Passion wax was applied onto all painted surfaces including seams that joined body panels together. Overlapping circular motions were used to spread the wax evenly over the paint leaving it to cure for the desired 2-3 minutes before buffing away. As Passion is designed specifically for single stage finishes of solid colours such as reds, yellows and greens, it made a perfect choice to finish this Enhancement Detail in. A second coat of Passion was applied to the Mini after leaving one hour after removing the first, this allows any wax residues to secondary haze preventing any possible smears or patching. During this hour, other finishing stages were carried out including bright work that was machine polished to ensure the most consistent finish to the bare metal polished bumpers. Other bright work such as window frames, fuel flap, nose grill and headlight surrounds were polished by hand to brighten the finish and remove watermarks. Window seals were dressed and protected using Gtechniq T1 Tyre&Trim for its rubber preserving properties and long lasting protection whilst other plastics such as rear splash guards and wing mirror supports were dressed with Auto Finesse Revive. Gtechniq G5 glass treatment was applied to all exterior glass including the sunroof at this point also. The wheels received a light hand polish with Auto Finesse Tripple polish before a single coat of Auto Finesse Mint Rims wheel wax and Satin tyre dressing were applied.
Once the remainder of the finishing stages were completed, the engine compartment received a light misting of Auto Finesse Dressle on rubber and plastic components, any excess product was wiped away with a fresh microfiber cloth. The black bonnet graphics and side pinstripe decals were carefully removed of any polish residues and dirt that had collected over time. A disposable point was gently worked into the corners of the decals in order to push out any dust and dirt. A microfiber then wiped it away carefully. Auto Finesse Finale quick detailer was then misted into a clean microfiber cloth to carry out the final buff of the Mini where any remaining wax residues were removed whilst the quick detailer allowed a smear free finish with additional gloss and protection.
Now that the exterior was completed, the interior was thoroughly vacuumed of light debris from floor carpets and floor mats. Dashboard, door trims and other plastics present inside the car were dressed ith Auto Finesse Dressle and interior glass surfaces were cleansed free of general build up and smudges with Auto Finesse Crystal to finalise this Mini's three day Enhancement Detail...