Car cruise and car show season is always an exciting time of year! Automotive events like car shows bring people together in celebration and pride of their vehicles nearly every weekend, and even weeknights in a lot of areas. Maybe you just recently purchased a classic car, or maybe you’ve owned it for years or decades, but you want your classic to look its best. You may not know the proper, safe methods to clean an older vehicle, or maybe you are just looking for some tips and tricks that you may not have known. If you have an older vintage car, hot rod, muscle car, or classic truck, you most likely do not want to clean and wash it in the traditional sense using a hose or pressure washer with soap and water.
You might ask “What makes cleaning a classic car different from cleaning any other modern car?” Unlike most modern vehicles, classic and vintage cars usually do not hold up to water well. Rubber seals can be decades old or completely gone, and drain channels, if any, could be clogged with 50 years of dirt and grime build-up. So introducing a hose in these instances could leave your carpets or trunk a flooded and soaking with water - not to mention older engine bays where you could harm the battery, carburetor, wiring, distributor, and more; whereas with modern vehicles, they are typically very safe to clean with water. Paint and chrome can also be delicate on older vehicles, so using a pressure washer like we would normally recommend is out of the question, since it could damage these areas by removing loose or weakened paint and chrome.
For most of the nation, Spring through Fall are the most popular months for car cruises, cars and coffee events, car shows, charity poker runs and rallies, and more. For some lucky parts of the country, these events occur year-round into the winter months. In this blog, we’ll explain several different areas and aspects of preparing your classic or vintage vehicle for an event at a hobbyist level - wheels and tires; exhaust tips, exterior trim, and engine bay; paint; and then finally the interior and trunk. We’ll cover how to make your ride look great in a quick manner for a car cruise, compared to paying attention to every single detail for a judged car show. The goal here is to make things easy and efficient so that you can enjoy the show rather than spending the whole event cleaning your car. We will have a separate article in the near-future on how to detail your vehicle for a more serious judged event, where every point can count if you’re chasing a prize or award. While this article is geared towards classic and vintage cars, all of these methods, tips, and tricks can be used on just about any vehicle for car show prep.