Before the Dodge Demon - There was the Dodge Drag Pak
With 800+ horse power, a Viper V-10 motor, fully caged interior, below seat exhaust cut off and fat racing slicks...it was clear that this was not your daddy's Challenger!
Having to be trailered to our Gilbert location (due to it not being street legal) - it had a rather unassuming presence about it. From 10 feet back, if you didn't take note of the racing slicks and battery switch on the rear bumper, you wouldn't know this was a 1 of 50 Dodge Challenger Drag Pak.
If you did happen to walk up a bit closer to take a look at the inside, the fully caged interior may pique your interest. However, once you looked and saw what was under the hood...your intrigue would likely be confirmed.
Now then, if you've recovered from the initial shock of how bad this paint was before, we will continue our journey...
You see, the paint on this Challenger was not totally factory. It had been re-sprayed and received a full wet sand (evident by all the sanding marks LEFT in the paint!) to remove orange peel and achieve a higher level of clarity. However, that whole clarity and gloss thing doesn't quite come together without the proper finishing work. While in the shade the reflections were decent and not as "wavy" as you typically see on today’s factory paint jobs. However, under direct lighting the paint's finish was fairly frightening.
Lets take a closer look at the car in its entirety:
What you're seeing above is a combination of different types of defects in the paint. We have lots of swirl marks and Random Deep scratches. Also you will see lots of "buffer marks" which are also called holograms due to their 3D appearance when seen in person. Lastly, the dull grey looking spots are actually sanding marks (which can also be described as uniform deep scratches). The graph below will help to put a more precise visual to what you see above.
As you can see, this was not an "isolated" section of damaged paint. No no, it had taken over! Top to bottom, this whole car was covered with buffer trails from the previous detailer, sanding marking, RIDS (Random Isolated Deep Scratches) and even some things we are not able to fix (fish eyes and solvent pops). We had, undoubtedly, quite the battle in front of us.
Once washed - we needed to remove any bonded contaminates on the paint (such as overspray, body shop dust, brake dust, fall out and so on).
Once the bonded topical contaminates had been removed - it was then time to put together a paint correction process that would work well with this particular car. Every paint job is different and requires a different approach depending on multiple factors (hardness/softness of the paint, paint age, paint thickness etc) so we treat each car on a case by case basis. There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to paint correction.
As you can see above - our test section came out quite well. The right side being "before" and the left side being "after". While performing a test spot and getting it to turn out well is not usually super difficult - repeating that exact process over the entire vehicle is - and takes many hours to perform correctly.
For the upper part of the trunk our Rupes 75 pneumatic was a dream as always. We combine it with a Carpro Gloss Pad for finishing work. It fit right into that slight curve just perfectly and left an insane amount of gloss in its wake.
Below you can see the middle is completely undone, the right side has been "cut" Meguiars M205 and a Meguiars Foam Cutting Disc and the left side has been "Final Polished" with a Meguiars Finishing Disc and Carpro's Essence. We used the Rupes MKII 21 for our larger areas and let me tell you, these little Italian machines are true work horses! Now that we knew the combo for our first line of attack, it was off to the races. A very slow, tedious, time consuming race!
Another interesting note on these cars...the owner informed us the side windows are plexi-glass. Thus much easier to scratch than standard glass. We took a little extra precaution by applying plastic over them and of course taped off ALL 1,832 miles of plastic trim as well to insure that while polishing the paint we did not stain the trim.
Here's a quick little detailers tip - for full correction work like this, especially with many hours and many hands on the car, its often easy to miss something small. It happens. However, that’s why after our final polishing step we will meticulously circle the car to see if we did in fact miss something. If we find anything, we'll then use a grease marker to mark off the area to let whoever is doing the spot polishing/correcting know "Hey, this needs attention".
It was very small, but we saw it, so we wanted it gone!
For especially deep sanding marks like what we had circled, Meguiars M100 was what we reached for to be able to give us the extra cut we needed in order to remove deeper scratches such as those.
Our little Rupes iBrid Nano also comes in extremely handy for jobs like this. Put into rotary mode, it was a great tool to trace around the badges to get as close as possible without damaging the badge itself:
Finally, after multiple days and multiple hours - the correction was complete and it was time to get to the good stuff. A super rare car deserves a super rare coating - and the new CQuartz Finest Reserve was up to bat. With a 3 year warranty, extreme protection and a wet look that literally lasts for years, this is the product to top off a full paint correction job.
Before applying a nano-ceramic paint coating (and really any paint protection for that matter), it's very important to make sure the paint is squeaky clean and free of any polishing oils, finger prints or anything else that may interfere with the product bonding properly to the paint. This is where CarPro's Eraser comes into play, to remove those polishing oils and leave the surface perfectly prepped.
After two coats, with an hour of wait time between coats - the gloss on this unique Challenger was coming to life:
You can see our yellow infrared lamps in the reflection of the fender here. I.R lamp curing is a must when installing a high-grade nano ceramic paint coating. It allows the coating to actually swell up and cure a bit thicker, harder and glossier. It also catalyzes the bonding of the product to the paint, which is most definitely what we want.
The finished product was truly something to behold:
It was a long and hard fought battle - but in the end we were able to win. Considering this was the 3rd vehicle the same owner has brought to us - I think its safe to say he's been satisfied with our work (the others were also both black, both swirled and both awesome muscle cars - GT350 and an all original 1981 Z28 Camaro w/5,000 original miles).
I hope you all enjoyed the eye candy, the process and more of the eye candy! I will be back soon with more fun paint correction and details we've been working on.
If you’ve recently purchased – or are considering purchasing a new vehicle, there are a few things you may want to consider doing once you drive off the dealer lot. We’ve put together a Top 5 “New Car Owner” recommendation list so that your new car stays looking new.
1. Paint Protection Film (Clear Bra) While some people like to build suspense by “saving the best for last”, I figured I’d start out with one of the most important things first. In Arizona, where rock chips are life, you should strongly consider PPF (paint protection film) before you go on any road trips or freeway drives.
Whether you track it, show it or drive it daily – paint protection film will help prevent damage from rocks, road debris and other blunt force hits. Combined with a self healing top coat and a 10 year warranty (in the case of Suntek Ultra and Xpel Ultimate) – it is the best way to make sure your finish is protected from the damage it faces everyday.
A quality repaint of just your front bumper can range between $650-1,000+ (ask me how I know!) Combine that with the fact you’ll be without your car for several days, your car will enter a body shop environment (where often times overspray and body shop dust can end up covering your car inside and out) and you will no longer have a factory paint job – having paint protection film applied from the very beginning really is a no brainer.
Over the last several years, PPF has become more durable and less visible, which allows you to enjoy the satisfaction of having your baby protected without having to compromise the look of your new car. When hunting for a quality film installer – remember the Three R’s: Research, Reviews and Referrals.
At the very least, be sure to find out the type of film they’re using , ask if they will be hand cutting or plot cutting the material (tight areas like bumpers are best cut by a plotter due to their intricacy) and how many years of experience the installer has.
After Suntek Clear Bra application to hood, bumper, side mirrors, headlights, front fenders and A-Pillars
Nano what…? When protecting your vehicle – the question is often asked – “What exactly am I protecting my vehicle from, it’s new!” The answer to this question comes in two parts; the first we covered above (protecting from rock chips and other blunt force hits), the second is environmental damage. Things such as UV rays (especially in Arizona), bird droppings, bug etchings and chemicals from cleaning will etch, stain and fade your paint, eventually causing it to fail.
Examples of Clear Coat Failure due to sun exposure and no paint protection
While in the past, the only solution was to regularly wax your paint, there are now better options available. Just like technology in vehicles has progressed, so has the technology to protect your vehicle. High-end Nano-Ceramic paint coatings (such as CQuartz Finest) can protect your vehicles paint for years, not months. Additionally, it will also make it glossier, allow it to stay cleaner longer and make washing it much easier with better results.
Like PPF, many “coatings” have hit the market in the past few years – and like PPF – I always encourage owners to follow the Three R’s prior to trusting your new ride with someone.
Things to consider when choosing a paint coating (and potentially a coating installer) include:
1. Reviews and history of the coating (has it been tried and tested or did it just come out last week?)
2. What the coating manufacturer says it will protect against? Remember, a nano-ceramic coating is meant to provide protection from environmental threats. Some companies list unrealistic promises (such as protection against things like screwdrivers, fire and comparable blunt force hit protection that clear bra provides). Ceramic coatings were not designed to protect from these types of things – but they can provide excellent protection from things that you will encounter, like the sun.
3. What is the history of the detailer you’re hiring to apply the coating? Just like the history of the product is important, the history of the company installing the product is equally (if not more so) important. Also keep in mind that a true detailer will make sure your paint is in excellent condition prior to any coating application. You don’t want to lock in a sub-par finish with a semi-permanent coating. Proper paint prep is the key prior to the installation of a coating.
After CQuartz Finest Nano-Ceramic protective paint coating
We all know that a sweet tint job to your new ride can really make a huge difference in how it looks. However, there are three key practical functions achieved from window tinting aside from a super sleek look.
1. First and foremost, protection from UVA/UVB rays. In Arizona especially, skin cancer is a major concern. A quality tint will filter out over 99% of these at least help keep you safe while you’re stuck in your car during a hot July day. In my opinion, this is a must if you have children riding in the back seat. This won’t make rush hour any less agonizing to drive in, but it will help protect you from harmful UV rays.
2. Privacy. If you don’t like the idea of just anybody seeing what’s on the inside of your car when left unattended (phone, laptop, purse etc), then you’ll likely not want to leave your windows un-tinted and 100% transparent.
3. Last but not least, comfort! Tinting your windows will keep the inside of your vehicle much cooler and more comfortable. This isn’t just good for you, its also good for your electronics and interior upholstery such as leather seats.
What does it mean exactly to “properly” maintain your vehicles exterior? Well, the most common type of damage we run into is usually from the owner actually trying to take care of their car. Quite the paradox isn’t it? Unfortunately, things such as automatic car washes, improperly trained employees at hand washes or even owners who take the DIY route but haven’t learned the correct way to wash their car, do often times cause harm to their vehicles finish.
Paint scratches or "swirls" left from poor washing and maintenance
Brushes, harsh chemicals, hard water and poor technique all attribute to a vehicle becoming more “aged” in appearance as well as causing irreversible damage in extreme cases (such as stained wheels or paint and eventually thinned out or failing clear coat). Doing hand washes with proper technique and quality produces really does make a night and day difference as to how your vehicle will look down the road. While the paint swirls in the above photo were repairable - it is still better to prevent them as much as possible from the beginning.
A Side by Side Before and After photo after removing paint swirls / defects
Quality towels, mitts and soap help keep your finish looking new
Our doors, phone and email are always open to those wanting to learn how to best care for their car. While the full details on how to do this will require an article all of it’s own (which I will post soon), know that “clean” doesn’t always mean, “correct.” If you don’t believe me, next time you take a shower use some steel wool! You’ll be clean, but you won’t be very comfortable!
One on One Maintenance Wash lesson with owner of this new 2017 ZL1 Camaro after receiving CQuartz Finest and Suntek Paint Protection Film
Before you bought your new car, you likely did some sort of research on it. While some of us take pre-purchase research to a different extreme than others, the point still stands that simply because your car came with wheels, an engine and a steering wheel – you never believed all cars were created equal (I think most of us remember the Daewoo!) The same holds true for a professional Detailer. Just because Bob has a bucket, and a sponge and a flyer that says “Detailer”…. it doesn’t mean he is in fact qualified to touch your car.
Things to consider:
1. Are they licensed (yes, detailers are required to have a business license). 2. Are they insured (accidents do happen and chances are the guy charging $75 on craigslist can’t afford to fix your new Mercedes if something were to happen.) 3. Are they experienced? Once again we go back to the 3 R’s (no not reading, writing and arithmetic) - reviews, research and referrals.
I tell all of my potential clients that I can speak highly of myself all day (ok that sounds a little egotistical but just go with me here!) However, you’re more likely to trust the feedback of several people who have a completely unbiased opinion and have paid their hard earned money for a company’s service. We not only welcome, but also encourage questions from anyone who walks through our door. This not only gives piece of mind to anyone willing to trust us with their car – it also greatly increases the likelihood that an individual will be able to enjoy the work we performed on their car for a longer period of time.
I hope that these Top 5 New Car Owner Recommendations helped and hopefully sparked a bit of thought as to some things to consider for your vehicle. I’ve always loved the quote “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Basically, it’s a lot easier to take care of something from the beginning rather than neglect it and have to fix it later on down the road.
If you enjoyed this – please share it with a fellow car lover in your life and feel free to contact us or comment with any feedback or questions you may have.
Wills Amstutz Owner - Windows and Wheels Auto Detailing Gilbert,Az