A fatigued old friend graces the channel one last time to be temporarily resurrected from mucky mediocrity!
During that extended period of neglect it’s also developed a number of annoying niggles including a half-arsed headlight, a dead driver’s window and some unresponsive reverse lights – all relatively simple fixes I couldn’t live with myself but issues I guess non-car oriented folk can overlook!
It’s a sad and sorry state of affairs really considering when it rolled off the production line 18 years ago this was the ‘Rolls Royce’ of V40’s but chances are it won’t be sticking around for much longer and I’ve got bigger fish to fry so one last basic clean on camera to temporarily resurrect it from mucky mediocrity will have to suffice.
The grotty arches and battered old Arcadia wheels were tended to first with a traffic film remover and pressure rinse to quickly cut the crud before any contact cleaning took place.
While the pre-clean removed most of the dirt the faces of the wheels were still treated to a healthy dose of bilberry to help brighten them up, which was worked in with a couple of soft bristled brushes including a Vikan item I often use for quickly cleaning the faces of wheels I’m not going too in-depth on.
Following one final rinse off then, the old Arcadia’s were now looking as good as could realistically be expected. Granted, there were some stubborn spots of baked-on dirt here and there but overall they at least now looked presentable.
Once the wheels were out of the way, I then treated the bottom half of the car to a healthy coating of TFR to help disperse the months worth of ingrained winter dirt before blanketing the rest of it in a thick layer of snow foam to give all areas a damn good pre-soak.
After a fair few minutes of foam time then the dirty diesel was thoroughly rinsed off from top to bottom to remove as much loose muck as possible prior to contact cleaning and yes, the front of the house took a smattering too but with minimal room for manoeuvre I didn’t want to work from the other side and risk the camera lens being covered and you lot missing out on the thrill of a freezing cold January snow foam rinse.
Once pre-cleaned, a single grit-guarded bucket was then filled and fizzed up with a strong shampoo mix and I’m now apparently so accustomed to working in the cold it didn’t even cross my mind to fill it with hot water – hash tag hard as nails!
So, despite my hard as nails hands having not graced these particular body panels for a year and a half, the paintwork still felt surprisingly smooth which shows that my previous efforts on the car must have done something – either that or I’d mixed such a strong solution of shampoo it would have felt slick on even a sandpaper-like surface.
All parts of the car (including the rusty ones) were given a good scrub with the wash mitt to ensure it was as clean as possible prior to rinsing and drying as it wouldn’t be getting a great deal more than this so it paid to be relatively thorough.
Once sufficiently scrubbed then, the car was thoroughly rinsed down one last time with the pressure washer to remove the lingering suds and stray dirt particles and leave it looking relatively clean and refreshed.
It was then time to put a new twisted loop drying towel from Autobrite to the test to rid the unprotected car of its uniform sheet of unfiltered water. The towel certainly absorbed the water well but its construction meant it felt quite rough to the touch, however I suspect it’s probably not designed to be yanked over the surface in a slap dash manner but instead be gently drawn or patted over it.
This kind of quick no nonsense dry is what I’ve always employed in more valet-oriented circumstances as my concern isn’t necessarily to avoid swirling but to ensure that the car will at least be spot, streak and smear free.
Lightly dabbing dry an unprotected car that’s been rinsed with unfiltered water will likely leave light mottling behind which is fine if its then being cleansed or polished but if not, then a thoroughly wrung out, hands-on towel dry can still leave even a battered old car looking relatively fresh and crisp.
Once the body had been towel dried the wheels and tyres were thoroughly blow dried to prepare them for dressing and a final once over. I went with Gyeon Q2 Tire to tend to the rubber and while I generally sponge tyre dressings I decided to brush this one on for a change but soon wished I hadn’t as the thick consistency of the product paired with the cool weather meant I had to use a hell of a lot of it to get anywhere but still, once applied and given a final buff after it had had time to soak in the tyres definitely looked a lot better for the faff.
The penultimate part of the process then was to spritz the paintwork over with a waxed-based detail spray to add a bit of extra shine to the tired old surface and yes I went with Finish Spray Exterior from Koch Chemie yet again because well, why wouldn’t I?!
It was spritzed across the surface a single panel at a time, worked over with one towel, then buffed off with another to remove any smears and reveal a nice slick finish which unfortunately wouldn’t rid the car of rust, but would leave it looking a damn sight better than it did to start with.
Once all panels had been sprayed, wiped and buffed then, I decided to quickly dress some of the plastic trim on the bumpers as they were seriously letting the side down. I grabbed Gtechniq T1 for this as despite not being a dedicated coating which is really what this trim needs, it still seems to last a while and gives a nice enough finish after being buffed over.
While there’s quite a lot of naked exterior trim on this car that could all have done with being rejuvenated, I just couldn’t bring myself to spend an hour dressing it all knowing that in two weeks it would look the same again so just tried to avert my gaze from the now almost white plastic door handles, wing mirror surrounds and door pillars plus battling a bit of man flu, I felt I’d pretty much hit the wall with this one so called it a day after dressing the trim so that there was still some time to grab some after shots and show what an ‘amazing’ improvement my half-arsed wash, dry and dress had made!
An 18 year old car obviously isn’t going to be fully restored with a bucket of suds in a few hours but at least the old lump was no longer caked in months worth of crud and now looked somewhat cared for.
It would have been nice to have fully kept on top of indefinitely but lets face it, it isn’t really worth much now, was always a means to an end and even if everything was in tip top working order still wouldn’t be the most pleasant car to keep hold of and daily drive in this day and age what with its dirty Euro 3 diesel engine, brick-like ride quality and distinct lack of mod cons.
I’m sure it will be caked in filth again soon but it was nice and clean for what will likely be the last time it’ll grace the channel, so bid it a fond farewell, ‘appy new year from me and thanks for watching!