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Subscribe Now Thank you for signing up! Summer has arrived, and with it, show season. If you've decided to enter your car into a show, it doesn't matter if you're going to a national-level concours or the neighborhood cruise; you want your ride to look its best. In judged shows, the difference between a prize and walking away empty handed can be in the details, especially when your car is up against so many other well-prepared entries.
Lenny Shiller, president of the Antique Automobile Association of Brooklyn, has judged many shows, and remembers having to decide between two nearly identical cars entered by a husband and wife. It all depends on the show. About cars enter in a typical year, but only a couple hundred make it into the show.
That may be more high end than most people will aim for, but, aside from the documentation requirement, cleanliness is as important there as it is in most shows.
Michael Graff, president of the Brooklyn region of the Antique Automobile Club of America, also judges shows on a regular basis, and said that in local shows, he often sees cars with dirty engine compartments, a faux pas in any event.
Replacing the original radio with a modern, digital-readout CD player with a USB port and bluetooth connectivity, for example, may be great for the daily commute.
But it does little to enhance the originality of a car's interior if chrome knobs and backlit dials were the norm when it rolled off the assembly line.
Shiller said that many contestants even go as far as installing factory original air and oil filters in their show cars.
Just keep in mind that when there are a lot of gleaming, all-original cars on display at a show, the differences that determine the winners from everyone else can be minute.
The judges are looking for things that are wrong with a car so they can deduct points from its score, Graff said. They're looking at everything — engine, bodywork, chassis and interior.
Graff said preparation is mostly common sense.
There are so many different car care products available, it would be impossible to recommend the best ones. Most people find what works best for them. But here's a basic rundown of how to prepare your car for the next show: Clean the engine compartment and undercarriage: It's a good idea to do this first, to avoid splattering grease on an already cleaned car.
You might also put towels on the windshield and fenders to keep from getting degreaser on them. Rinse the car, then use an automotive-specific cleaner and a sponge or mitt that's designed for use with automotive finishes.
Don't even think about using dish soap; it's too strong. Start by cleaning the wheels, to avoid getting brake dust-infused water all over an already-washed car. Then work your way from the roof down. It's also a good idea to wash in the shade, as soap will evaporate quickly from a hot surface and leave spots and streaks on the paint.
Dry the car with a chamois or high-quality microfiber towel.
Apply tire dressing only after the tires are completely dry. Some people like to use an abrasive polish to clean stains and sap from the paint and restore lost shine. Others prefer a clay bar. In either case, follow the directions on the packaging to ensure a good finish and to avoid damaging the paint.
Work in the shade. Wax will dry too quickly on hot paint, and will cause hazing and other ugly imperfections. Apply the wax in thin coats to small sections of the car, buffing the area with a clean towel.Penn State President Eric Barron likens the pursuit of a Penn State education to driving a blue-and-white Corvette.
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