Tackling the 25 year old interior of my sister’s neglected Nissan Figaro…
Aside from plenty of deeply ingrained dirty leather I also had dog hairs, sand, scuffs and even the odd sticky skittle to contend with which I hoped would all be sorted (or at least improved) with a thorough vacuum, some light upholstery cleaning, a basic leather rejuvenation, a detailed dress of most surfaces and a straight forward glass clean.
Being a miniature motor I went with a smaller Numatic Henry machine to vacuum, its trunk being mated to a crevice tool and soft dusting brush.
The aim here was simply to suck up as much loose debris as possible from all interior surfaces to make the subsequent deep cleaning slightly easier. I use the soft brush tool to gently remove dust and debris from various nooks and crannies (of which there were a fair few in this quirky car), while the crevice tool is generally reserved for use on the carpets and upholstery.
The front carpets were pretty heavily worn and discoloured from years worth of filthy footsie and I know from experience that attempting to properly extract vintage examples like these can often leave them looking worse, so after vacuuming I simply a pre-sprayed them with a bulk upholstery cleaner From Autosmart, worked them over with a stiff bristled brush and then gave them a final once over with the Henry.
A steam cleaner or compressed air powered Tornador tool would likely achieve the best results if you were truly looking to turn them around but unless I was to fall short in attending to the other areas I had to leave it at that. The mats will cover most of the mankiness and the car isn’t likely to be maintained from here on in so you’ll have to forgive me for not wanting to over exert myself
Vacuuming complete it was then time to tackle the lacklustre leather using some gentle ‘Supernatural’ cleaner from Dodo Juice and a soft bristled interior detailing brush.
Once liberally sprayed directly onto the cream coloured surface it was throughly worked in with the brush to help release any ingrained grime before being wiped over with a dry microfibre towel to remove the encapsulated dirt and excess soapy residue.
When attending to the front seats a little extra a attention was payed to the seams where years worth of grime and antique backside debris had unfortunately accumulated.
The top parts of the front seats and their headrests on the other hand seemed to be contaminated with another kind of stubborn brown residue which refused to budge with either a leather cleaner and stiff bristled brush or an all purpose cleaner and magic eraser, and not wanting to rub right through the most likely unprotected leather I decided to let these areas soak under a wet towel and revisit them later off camera.
When I did I was hit with the unmistakable aroma of nasty old nicotine and so suspected pipe or cigar smoke as cigarettes usually leave more of a yellow residue behind in my experience and an eccentric pipe smoker would fit perfectly with a quirky old car like this.
Once I’d spent a couple of hours on the leather seats (both on camera and off) it was time to tackle the other parts of the cabin using some ‘Total Interior Cleaner’ from Auto Finesse.
The sterile smelling product was sprayed directly onto each of the surfaces to be cleaned before being wiped over with a fresh microfibre towel. Any heavier areas of contamination that wouldn’t come off with just the towel were attended to with either a stiff bristled brush to get into the grain or a magic eraser which quickly lifts off stubborn scuffs.
While the abrasive nature of magic erasers can potentially cause irreversible damage, at this point in a cars life where the dirt and grime is so ingrained and ‘at one’ with the surface it’s very often the only thing that works.
Gently removing a small amount of the surface or colour and taking the ingrained dirt with it similar to how you’d abrade away faded single stage paintwork on the exterior of a neglected car with a machine polisher also helps to noticeably brighten the interior in a way that a simple surface clean never could. They’re obviously not something you want to be deploying on a well kept car but on an older interior of this colour they’re invaluable.
Following a quick rinse out the same soft brush used to clean the leather was used to work the Total Interior Cleaner into the various nooks and crannies of the Figaro as best as possible. Again, if this was a full on restorative detail then a steam cleaner or Tornador would be the best option for blowing grime out from these types of awkward areas but a quick tickle with the brush and wipe over with a towel would have to do for this family freebie.
Once I felt everywhere had been given as good a clean as possible within the given timeframe I moved onto finishing off the main surfaces using some 303 Aerospace Protectant.
The water-based dressing which is designed to enhance and protect all surfaces from the harmful effects of the sun was liberally sprayed directly onto the surface, then thoroughly buffed over with a fresh towel to simultaneously work it into the grain and remove any excess residue to give as natural finish as possible.
You’re not really supposed to ‘dress’ leather but once old unprotected and neglected hyde like this has been given a deep clean it can become tacky, dull and lifeless therefore I find an all encompassing solution like this is the most efficient and realistic way to finish it all off without spending hours sealing or conditioning subpar leather that won’t thank you for it.
Yes you’ll have a bit of a sheen on your seats and it might feel slightly slippery under backside for a few days but that’s the price you pay for either letting your leather get in such a state or buying a car in that kind of condition.
Following the somewhat tedious deep cleaning it’s probably the most satisfying part of a job like this for me as the self doubt surrounding what the heck you’ve been doing for the past 4 or 5 hours slowly fades as you see each individual part finally coming together to form a far more acceptable whole.
Once all areas had been dressed and buffed then it was time to tend to the glass and remaining shiny bits that were now caked in overspray, with some good old green ‘Glass Clear’ from Autosmart.
The windows were liberally spritzed with the product before being worked over with a pair of lint free glass cleaning cloths to keep smears and bits to a minimum, however it’s difficult to obtain a proper finish when the outside is still dirty so I just went through my usual basic glass cleaning routine knowing that despite not being perfect it’d still be allot better than it looked to begin with.
The final few shiny bits were then wiped over with the glass cleaner, this time using a more conventional microfibre towel, to leave them looking bright, smear and fingerprint free.
Once everywhere had been given a last once over with Henry off camera the floor mats were finally tended to. The smaller two were simply given a through vacuum with the crevice tool as they weren’t really too bad but the slightly more soiled front pair were given a bit more of a through going over similar to how the carpets were dealt with.
And with around half an hour left to capture some after shots and record a cringey conclusion before it got dark, I had no choice but to call it a day there. Still, 8 hours of my time was probably far more than this neglected little Nissan deserved if I’m honest!
A full day’s cleaning off camera would obviously warrant a superior outcome but with this particular clean being complimentary, unless the car was an absolute minter it would have been a waste of time and energy in many respects.
Nevertheless the toy town interior looked a damn sight better for its deep clean and I still think I can safely say I that I achieved my goal of breathing a bit of life back into it.
Even at this time of year it now looked fresh, bright and airy and most of the quirky design features, despite being inflicted with ‘characterful patina’ still shone through.
In an ideal world once you get things to an acceptable base standard like this you then keep on top of it with regular maintenance cleaning and as you do it should come out a little better each time as you progressively play catch up with 25 years worth of neglect.
While I understand a car like this won’t appeal to everyone, I still thought it was worth featuring as there isn’t many about and still to this day they’re pretty unique in terms of looks, both inside and out!