Minuteman

Alabama Section

It's All in the Detailing

It's All in the Detailing

A woman's perspective of living with and loving a Mercedes-Benz Maniac

Authored by our own Bonnie Fancy.

Reprinted with permission from The Star Magazine. July/August 2007 Issue.


What you are about to read is true. I personally know of at least one person who has done at least one of the following things except the last. I heard about the decontamination suit from a friend of a friend.

Your favorite Mercedes lover is always looking for an excuse to play with the car, and to admire and envy other people's Mercedes. Thus was born the concours. A concours is the automotive equivalent of the Westminster Dog Show only without the dog hair. This is a good thing as the presence of dog hair in the Mercedes would knock points off the total score.

Prizes are awarded based on how original the car is and how pristine. The paint must be a color that was available for that model at that time. Even better, if the car has the little plate with all the numbers on it, the owner can use the original color of that particular car. Think of a beauty queen getting additional points because her hair is its original color and not dyed.

All of this creates a challenge for Mercedes lovers and those who love them. Prepping or detailing a car for a concours gives the car lover an excuse to buy all sorts of cleaners, waxes, finishing rinses and tools. There are more specialized cleansers in the car lover's garage than in a teenaged girl's bathroom. Instead of Avon ; it's Meguiar's or Mother's.

Then there are the home remedies. If the Bon Ami from the kitchen goes missing, check the garage; it is supposed to be good for polishing windows. That new soft toothbrush you just bought for your teeth is wonderful for cleaning between the spokes of mag wheels. For smaller areas, the camel hair brush in your paint set works well. If your roasting pan disappears, it's probably under the car catching the dirty oil from the Mercedes. If you use an all purpose metal polish, be prepared to lose that to the garage as well. It doesn't matter to your car lover that the silver service needs polishing or that those copper bottomed pans hanging in the kitchen look better in glowing pink than in tarnished brown. It's the chrome on the Mercedes that's really important.

Some car lovers have been known to remove the chrome to polish it. This prevents metal polish from getting on the car, and washing the car without the chrome prevents sand from getting under the chrome and scratching the paint that no one is going to see anyway.

The car must be thoroughly vacuumed. To get rid of any offending pet hair, a damp dry chamois is used to wipe the upholstery. By wiping in the same direction, all the pet hair will gather in a loose clump which can be picked up quite easily. It is probably best to keep Fido out of the Mercedes. If there are stains or spots on the carpet, they must be eliminated. There goes the foam you use to clean up after the puppy.

Once the car is clean; it has to dry. Air drying leaves spots; towels leave lint. A chamois is a good choice, but if sand or grit gets in it, the car could get scratched. The best choice is to blow dry the car with a leaf blower. Oh well, at least it's not your blow dryer.

Some car lovers are lucky and have a spouse who is willing to help out with the cleaning. Most of us tolerate the insanity of concours prep and quietly reclaim the Bon Ami, buy a new toothbrush, replace the paint brush, and, in my case grudgingly, buy a new roasting pan.

Driving to the concours involves even more preparation. Some people put a blanket or a tarp in the trunk before they load it as a way of keeping the carpet clean. The first thing in is a bucket full of various cleansing products and a chamois. Since the concours will take up most of the day, a couple of lawn chairs are next. They must be clean, and if they do not fold up into a canvas bag, the metal feet must be padded with newspaper or gauze to keep them from tearing or scratching the interior of the trunk.

Trophies the car has won at other shows and photo albums of the restoration process are also important. The full length mirror from the closet door will go too. This will be placed under the car, so people can see how clean the underside is.

If you are going to the concours, and I highly recommend it, you will want to bring some things with you. Cameras, needle work, crossword puzzles, sudokus, or anything else that will keep you occupied should be packed in a canvas tote. If you have a ponton or a grosser Mercedes, you might be able to put the bag in the trunk. If you have an SL the bag will ride on your lap, so you can make sure it doesn't spill anything sharp.

According to car lovers, food and cars don't mix. Check to see if there will be food available at the concours, if not you might be able to pack some sandwiches and a couple of bottles of water in a small insulated bag. If the bag has the Mercedes Benz Club logo on it, it will be easier to get away with this.

Now the only thing left to do is get in the car and go. You have chosen your outfit carefully. It has no buttons, or buckles that might scratch the car. It's coordinated to go with the car in both color and vintage. It doesn't matter. When you open the passenger side door, you may well find a decontamination suit complete with booties, gloves and a hair net which you will be expected to wear while in the car.

It will all be worth it when “your” Mercedes wins a trophy.