The following article, on how to prepare a car for Concours competitions was written by John Dunn, an ex Concours coordinator, and real expert where concours was involved.
There were two classes then, the Open, for beginners and the Gold Class for the cars that had won past competitions in the Open Class.
I am hoping to reinstate the two class system in 2012 if there is enough interest from members. Watch this space!
At the moment there is only one class, to keep it simple for me, the judge, and easier to organise rosettes for the winners. There are also insufficient entries in the RSSOC Concours events to warrant two classes.
The theory of preparing is the same anyway, except that the underside of the car is not judged in our competitions. (Wheel arches excepted).
The Open Section is designed for newcomers to the Concours trail who use their cars regularly, if not everyday. For these reasons, the judges in the Open section give points for condition, presentation and originality for the exterior and interior of your car. The engine bay and the underside of the car are not judged. The underside of the wheel arches, however, are included since they have a major impact on the exterior looks of the car.
This guide is intended as a starting point for all potential "Cotton Bud Brigade" members, but can also be used by anyone wishing to keep their car looking its best.
For more information, contact the Concours Coordinator, and refer to the Calendar for locations and dates of Concours Events.
Always Think Of Concours Preparation In Four Distinct Time Stages:
This includes items such as bodywork, paint, chrome, wheels and interior trim. Although it is not necessary to have a repaint or new interior, I am assuming in these notes that the condition of all the major items referred to in this section have been addressed.
In this category we should be looking at the paintwork under the wheel arches which includes the parts of the chassis and the suspension which can be seen easily. This area takes time to clean, rub down and repaint, all of which can be done by anyone with a paint brush, aerosol paint and enthusiasm. You will be amazed how new paintwork under the wheel arches, together with polished chrome, alloy or newly painted wheels transforms your car.
Also to be tackled in this medium term category are stone chips, stress cracks and scratches to the paintwork, and the removal of front and rear bumpers to clean, polish or repaint the rear and the repainting of the bumper brackets. It is always worth replacing any fastenings with new plated ones when doing this type of preparation. It makes a significant difference to the visual impact.
Time spent tidying up the door opening/shut area is well worthwhile; clean, repaint, polish, paying particular attention to polishing door catches and kick plates. If the latter are badly scratched it may be better to replace them altogether.
The boot or rear storage wells should also be inspected and cleaned and repainted. The tools, spanners, jacks, wheel brace etc, should be cleaned and repainted as they will also be judged. The tools may need a new tool roll to present them at their best.
All this detail work which almost certainly will include some paintwork (most can be brush painted) will take time, so aim to start the work several weeks before the first event.
The two main areas in this section are the interior and the polishing of the exterior. Interior cleaning includes the cleaning of the upholstery and the carpets. There are lots of products on the market which are excellent at bringing tired cloth, leather and carpets to near their original condition. Don't forget all the little nooks and crannies where dust and dirt collects - you can be sure that the judge will find them. Specialist glass cleaning materials really make a difference - use them inside and out. Also use rubber cleaners around the window and door seals and on the pedal rubbers and heel rubbers on the carpets. It's a good idea to cover up the seats and carpets when cleaned if you are using the car prior to the show.
When dealing with the exterior it may be necessary to "T cut" the paint prior to polishing the paintwork. There are several excellent polishes on the market which bring the paintwork to concours standard with that extra shine. Both Autoglym and Mer are well known concours products. Chrome and all exterior rubber should be cleaned at this time, taking care to remove any remaining polish from awkward corners, such as the grill and around the "Scimitar" letters. In the latter case it is sometimes easier to remove them to give them a thorough clean. (Be careful, they can break.)
Wheels are easier to clean if removed from the car. This is best left until as near the show day as possible. Clean, highly polished wheels are another important scoring point of the car. Tyres can be brought to life with one of several special tyre polishes. Note that all tyres should be of the same make to score maximum points.
The day before the event remove everything from the inside of the car and give it a final vacuum and polish. Wash the outside of the car with cold water and leather down. When dry, polish all the paintwork, chrome and glass with a dry, soft cloth.
All that remains now is for fine weather for your journey to the event. Make sure that you arrive well in advance of judging time (normally this commences 11.00/11.30am). This will give you time to wash under the wheel arches and give the tyres a final buff with tyre cleaner, not forgetting to clean in the treads as well as the walls of the tyres. At this point you will hear several people comment that you must have trailered your car to the event as the tyres are not even dirty!
If the weather is unkind and the roads are wet on the journey to the event, you will have to allow some extra time to wash and leather down the exterior, as well as to clean your wheels. Make sure that everything is removed from the interior of the car so it is now just as it was when collected from the showroom as new.
The tools may be displayed inside or outside the car together with the handbook and MoT certificate. All entrants must have a current Road Fund Licence and must have driven the car to the show.
Finally check that all your lights, including indicators and horn, are working (it's a good idea to carry spare bulbs just in case) as the judge will ask you to operate all these, as well as start the engine and let it run on tickover. It is a good idea to start the engine so it is warm prior to judging, so it starts first time and ticks over smoothly.
You will be amazed how you can transform your classic Scimitar or Sabre into a show standard car for minimal cost, just a little of your time and effort. The rewards are considerable. Not only have you now increased the value of your car, since it is now of show standard, not just another Scimitar, but you may well find that you get bitten by the bug and get a real buzz from the competitiveness of concours events. You will make many more friends both fellow competitors and other members, and also the general public who will appreciate the high standard you have achieved by your efforts.