Detailing tips from Ant Anstead

We’re all aware of Channel 4’s ‘For the Love of Cars’ star Ant Anstead, but did you know he builds cars for the public at his secret workshop, just down the road from us in Hertfordshire?! Well, he does, and he let us have a gander around his shop – lucky us, eh?! Only on the condition we brought cake, though. Apparently, those are the workshop rules? Who are we to argue?!

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Ant and his team build cars for customers, on a commission-only basis – and they are awesome! Cars are tailored to individual customer requirements – even the seating position, steering wheel and pedals are made to fit the specific size and specification of that individual customer.

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As you can imagine, a lot of work goes into these builds, from start to finish, but how do they prepare the cars for collection? Well, I was lucky enough to be shown around one of the cars due to go out to a customer, by partner and head of bodywork, Chris Hackett, who let us in on a few detailing tips:

  • Use a proper wax. No synthetics or vinyl; natural waxes are best.
  • Lacquered paint will need a number of coats, with a good re-wax once or twice a month.
  • Detailing spray is the most versatile product we use. It can be used across most surfaces and is ideal if in a hurry – just spray and wipe.
  • If Two Pack paint – I.e. no lacquer – it’ll need more wax, so twice a month at least.
  • Cars should be washed around once a week. Hose off the car with soapy water or a snow foam – this helps to loosen particles actually washing it with a soft mitt.
  • Don’t use a sponge or you’ll end up putting more swirl marks into the paint than you had before, due to the coarse nature of the sponge.
  • For intricate details such as grills and wire wheels, we use brushes – using brushes means that we get to every nook and cranny that these intricate details hold.
  • Always wash the car from top to bottom.
  • Orange peel will pick up dirt easier than paint that is smooth, so all paint should have a flat and polish. We always flat and polish our cars, then wax them afterwards.
  • The most important thing you can do in preparation of a machine polish is taping up. Tape up everything that doesn’t need polishing, including window rubbers – if you hit a rubber with the polisher it’ll burn it and you’ll have to replace it.
  • Before attempting to flat and finish your own vehicle, it’s important not to use anything harsher than a 1500. We use a cutting compound first, together with a foam mop head and a finer-grade machine polish after that.
  • Lacquered paint is thinner and you should be very cautious not to burn through it. Two Pack paint is applied much thicker, as there is no lacquer, but care should still be taken when doing any machine polishing.
  • When using a polishing mop, keep it moving. Don’t let the panel get too hot, keep feeling with your hand to check the temperature as you go. Heat can blister the paint. You can spray a mist of water on the panel to cool it, if needed.
  • Another good tip is to be cautious when machine polishing near or over the swage line. We suggest taping up to the swage line and machine polishing either side, individually. People find it difficult to gauge pressures when going over such lines, so this will help not to burn through it. To put it simply; never polish on a sharp edge.

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Well, that’s our top tips from Ant and his team. If you have any additional detailing enquiries, let us know at info@autofinesse.co.uk.

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