You’ve finally done it. You’ve decided your motor is ready to go under the microscope at a concours d’elegance event. It’s your pride and joy, but is it truly ready for its every square inch to be scrutinised by concours judges and discerning members of the public? Read on to find out how to get your beloved motor looking its very best for the big day.
While every concours and each individual judge will be impressed by different things, there’s typically three areas you’ll need to concentrate on when preparing your car for a concours, especially if you’re gunning for an illustrious honour.
First things first – your car will need to drive. Most concours events will require you to drive into and out of the event. The better your car looks as it drives, the higher it will be scored. The key areas to work on are:
Exhaust: Your car should start with minimal smoke. The clearer the smoke the better.
Engine: The more your car wheezes and splutters into life the less healthy it seems.
Electrics: Make sure that everything works inside your car, including the radio, the cigarette lighter and the windows.
Your car will need to look beyond pristine if it is to wow the crowds and, more importantly, the judges at a concours d’elegance.
Make sure you take care to examine the label of any products you use and consider how these might react with each other. Always start on a test patch and, if in doubt, look for an alternative product.
Now that that’s out of the way, you’ll want to inspect every nook and cranny carefully. Even a tiny scratch on the dashboard could prove decisive, especially if you’re tied on points with another vehicle. You’ll need to clean and buff everything – including the underneath the car, so it’s best to start at the top and finish at the bottom. Chamois leather works particularly well for this as it doesn’t tend to scratch and be sure to use distilled water to avoid spotting.
Don’t neglect the engine. You’ll want to clean it as thoroughly as you can since the judges will be getting up close and personal. Likewise with the interior. Vacuum everywhere and condition the leather seats. There’s nothing worse than a small piece of debris on the floor of your otherwise perfect motor.
Once your car is as clean as possible, you’ll want to circle around it again – perhaps several times. Attention to detail is vital: line up the locking wheel nuts, straighten the hood ornament and so on. Keep walking around your car, looking inside and outside until everything looks first-class. Then, ask someone else to scrutinise for a fresh perspective.
So now your car drives beautifully and it looks shiny and spotless - better-than-new. The judges’ attention will now focus on its heritage.
Try to gather in one place all the original branded paraphernalia that came with your car: first aid kit, seat and car covers, toolkits - anything and everything. If you still have the original factory spare wheel that’s even better.
Next bring together anything that shows the history of the car. Photos of the vehicle with its previous owners or in unusual locations will go down well. Similarly, old tax discs or other documentation will also help convey your car’s heritage and value.
And that’s it – preparing your car for a concours event is as much a case of getting it in full working order and looking the part as it is coming prepared to tell its unique story.
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Image courtesy of Tim Scott.