My Detailing Year in Review – by Todd Cooperider of Esoteric Auto Detail
The other day I was looking through my detailing image files, and as I brought up each one it brought back memories of the processes I went through to suit each vehicle’s needs. And not only did I re-visit each car that I photographed, but I also thought of the people in the industry that visited me throughout the year, the detailing trips I went on, and the other detailers I got to work and hang out with as well. 2011 was a great year in detailing for me personally, and for the industry in general. So after some thought, I decided to put together one big article covering some of the highlights of the year.
So in no particular order of events, here is a summary of the detailing year in 2011:
Detailing with friends
I’ve made some very good detailing friends around the world, but unfortunately I’ll never get the opportunity to actually work alongside many of them. It’s really unfortunate because I know there are a lot of highly skilled detailers out there, and when working side by side on a big project, you can really strengthen those relationships.
The first highly talented detailer that I worked with years ago just happens to be the one that I have worked with the most – DJ Mayo. Not only do I consider him to be one of the absolute best detailers in the business, but he’s also one of my closest friends. And don’t get me wrong…I don’t consider him that good simply because he’s my friend. He’s extremely good at what he does…period!
DJ usually makes the trip up here to Ohio from Northern Virginia at least a few times a year depending on what kind of crazy projects I’ve got lined up. This year he made the trip 3 times if my memory serves me right…once to work on a large Ferrari collection in Indiana, another to spend some time when the Sonax team visited from Germany, and the last time when we made our annual trip out to Las Vegas for the SEMA show. Really I think he just enjoys coming up to hang out with Spike (my Boston Terrier who suffers from an over-abundance of personality and enthusiasm!), but as long as I can continue to count on him for top-notch work, I’m good with that.
Here’s DJ polishing out the factory-installed sanding marks from the under-side of the mirror on this Ferrari 458 Italia during our trip to Indiana.
Another good friend of mine that I worked with a lot this year is Addison Good from right here in Columbus, Ohio. I met Addison a little over a year ago at a local car show and we’ve been friends ever since. At that time he was still relatively new to the business, and I took him under my wing so to speak to train him to achieve a much higher level of detailing and paint correction. He had recently attended a 2-day detailing school, and I had him come over to my place to show him a few compounding and polishing tricks. When we were done, he said that he learned more from me in an hour that he learned from the “school” in 2 days! That’s what I like to hear. Since that time Addison has come a long way, and he’s now doing a lot of work on exotics, and managing private collections. He has come over to the shop and helped me work on quite a few Ferraris and Lamborghinis this year, and I have helped him work on some of his clients’ highly valuable cars / collections. Despite the fact that he (and DJ) are always giving me old-guy jokes, we get along great and we enjoy working on projects together.
Here’s Addison during one of our detailing marathons where we did major paint correction details on 4 Lamborghinis over about a week and a half period.
Significant Detailing Trips in 2011:
Most of my detailing efforts are done at the shop here in Columbus, and most of the vehicles I work on are actually shipped in via enclosed transport from all across the country. While vehicles arriving for detailing from close states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, and West Virginia are common, having them shipped in from far away places like Florida, Texas, Arizona, and even California are not un-common!
But on occasion I’ll get the call when my services are requested at the owner’s facility…especially when there are a lot of vehicles in a collection. Usually, these types of clients are a bit more private and I can’t take photos or even disclose the location, but when I can, it makes for a great story.
The first big trip I took at the very beginning of the year was up to New York. The owner just purchased his 458 Italia, and when he saw his car under the halogen lights at home, he immediately picked up the phone and called me (literally…he called me on New Year’s Eve!). It was actually a great trip because he flew me in, picked me up at the airport, and put me up in his guest house for 3 days while I worked on his car. The whole story was so intriguing that it was picked up by the automotive news website Autospies.com (one of several they published about my work this year!). While it was a great trip and I was treated like royalty by the owner of the car, it was also one of my most challenging jobs because while I was there I received news that my Father passed away. I had a job to finish, and the act of detailing actually helped to take my mind off of the loss.
Here’s the beautiful Ferrari 458 Italia in Grigio Silverstone that I worked on while I was there.
Another big detailing trip I took was in the Spring with DJ. I had a client over in Indiana that I had worked on his rare Ferrari 288 GTO in the past, and now he was ready for the entire collection to get some detailing love. DJ flew into Columbus, we loaded up the car, and prepared for a big-time detailing marathon with some serious Italian beauties!
First up was this 7-figure, 1967 275 GTB/4. The owner was getting ready to take it to a car show the day after we finished it (for which he won an award…thank you very much!), so we worked long into the night to bring this beast back to the condition that it deserved. If you ever get the opportunity to take a ride in one of these, by all means do it. The sounds coming from the small V-12 motor at high RPM’s is intoxicating…
We also worked on the amazing new 599 GTO while we were there…these two look stunning sitting together!
And we had 2 new 458 Italias to perfect while we were there. One in Grigio Silverstone (or chrome after we finished with it)…
And the other in Rosso Corsa…
We also worked on a 365 Boxer and a California, so as you can see it was a serious collection of Ferraris to bring to the next level.
And for a behind-the-scenes look, here we are taking a moment to snap some product images for our buddy Paul at Chemical Guys!
While I went to a variety of car shows throughout the year, one that really stood out was the Keeneland Concours d’Elegance in Lexington, Kentucky. The guys from Sonax USA invited me down to help them work their display booth…we had a great time at the car show, and at the festivities in the evening. It’s a wonderful event, and I got to meet a lot of great people while I was in attendance.
I had another detailing trip I needed to make for a client with a Ferrari California. This was a pretty straightforward detail, but the reason I included it in this article is because the conditions that I had to work in. When I finally arrived at the client’s house, I realize that I had the flu…BIG-time flu! I was there, I had a job to do, I was staying in a hotel, and I couldn’t go home until I finished. I felt absolutely horrible throughout the detail – I had to take a lot of breaks to lay down, and I kept a bucket close to my side everywhere I went (fortunately for us detailers…we keep plenty of buckets when we work!). Two days working felt like ten, but I soldiered through it and made the California look better than it did when it was new.
If I would have had the time, I could have trained dozens and dozens of detailers this year given the amount of demand I’ve had from all over the globe. Requests come in daily, so I guess that I need to come up with a way to fulfill that demand to make sure these people are receiving the proper training. While (many) tens of thousands read my articles each month, and I receive so much feedback on how helpful they’ve been to further the detailers’ skills, it’s just not the same as being able to sit down with people and teach them hands-on. For those asking…please be patient and we’ll make it happen!
While I did get the opportunity to work with some people at my shop, one of the more memorable training sessions was done at their facilities up in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. The guys from Sweetcars hired me to travel up and spend a day with their (already skilled) detailers, and we had a very good time. Not only did we make significant strides in compounding and polishing techniques, but I was also able to consult with them on their detailing packages, pricing, and marketing efforts. I keep in touch with those guys and I can tell that their skill levels and efficiencies have improved dramatically. Now if you’ve followed my articles over the past several years you’re already aware that I like to teach the art of detailing, but when you get to do it in person like this, and you see the confidence level and skills skyrocket in a short period of time, it certainly makes you feel good about the efforts.
Here we are at the end of the day…pictured with Mike and Drew.
Events – SEMA Show 2011
DJ and I made the trip out to SEMA in 2010 together, and we were happy to see the amount of professional detailers and detailing manufacturers in attendance. For 2011 however, everybody stepped up their game and we experienced a much higher turnout than the previous year by both manufacturers and detailers. We had a strong contingent of detailers from other countries, and based on the conversations I’ve had with a lot of the European pros, I expect to see them out in numbers for 2012.
I wanted to come up with a way to get everybody together while in Las Vegas so that people could finally get the opportunity to meet one another in person since so many know one another in the online world. I organized a Detailer’s Meet & Greet for one of the evenings while we were there. We had a huge turnout, and it was the who’s-who in the detailing world. All the stars were there, all of the manufacturers were there, and everybody had a wonderful time. I’m sure this will become an annual event now, and I’ll work on ways to make it even bigger for next year.
We also attended a private party held by Chemical Guys, which gave us a great opportunity to hang out and get to know some new people from around the world. While some of the photos wouldn’t be wise to make public (you know…blackmail-type material!), I was able to get my hands on a few of the rated PG versions to share. Thanks to Paul and the entire CG crew!
Yours truly and Eric Schuster of Envious Detailing
David Saunders, me, and DJ Mayo (putting on his serious face)
I introduced Addison to the industry in Vegas, and the industry will never be the same! This guy was born for Vegas…
And finally a group photo of us hanging out at the Chemical Guys booth within the SEMA Show
Visitors and Product Development
I get a lot of demand from manufacturers within the detailing industry for product testing and development…so much in fact that I have a 4’x8′ table set up just for all of the products I need to work with at some point. It can become a little overwhelming at times, but I do get to try a lot of great products (and find some real gems in the process), and I know that my opinion is valued during their development process. How a product engineer or marketing department looks at a product may be completely different than how a professional detailer looks at it, so it’s imperative to have the feedback of the end user. And I thank those manufacturers that actually do solicit our feedback and pick our brains a bit.
Probably the most exciting product development project to be involved with was the Meguiar’s MF Correction System. While there are plenty of great new products that come out year after year, this one was a game-changer. Being involved in the pre-production development process was great, and since we officially launched it in February of 2011, its popularity has grown at an exponential rate, and has subsequently spawned other technologies and companies to go in that same direction. Kudos to the Meguiar’s team for developing and launching this system, and to everybody that was involved in the process as well.
And with the product development and brainstorming that goes between manufacturer and detailer comes visits from the manufacturers to work with us on future products / projects or ideas. Not many get this opportunity, and I feel very fortunate that these guys want to come all the way out to Ohio to spend some time.
On several occasions this year I had the pleasure of hosting Jason Rose from Meguiar’s. Not only is Jason one of the most respected detailer / trainers out there, but he’s also highly regarded for his product development processes. Just the way he approaches the process, asks questions, and takes so much pride in it is very inspiring. During his visits we played around with some very finicky, soft black Ferrari paint on one end of the spectrum, and we used the hood of his rental car to see just how much abuse some products and pads could take (shh…don’t tell his rental car company!). Thanks for the visits Jason, and I look forward to more in the future.
Another group of visitors I’ve had on a few occasions this year are the guys from Sonax. Since their US offices are just 3 hours from me, it’s easy for them to get over here to show me some new (or existing) products in their massive lineup. While at the present time they have a limited offering here in the U.S. market, it will be getting much bigger as the product line in Europe (they’re from Germany) is about as complete as any I’ve seen.
Their most recent visit this fall was special because they brought one of their key guys from Germany with them to visit with DJ Mayo and me. We spent the day comparing techniques, talking about products, and discussing the subject of training here in the U.S. market…it’s a very big part of the German market, and one that I’d like to see become more prevelant here in the U.S. I now have a direct line to their HQ in Germany, and they value the feedback that DJ and I offer to them. Watch for these guys to make a big splash here in the States in the very near future…
Pictured next to me are Eric McLeod from Sonax-Germany, DJ Mayo, and Jason Whitely from Sonax USA.
That’s why you clicked on this article, right? To see juicy photos of highly detailed cars…
I consider myself very fortunate to work on and with some of the most beautiful and valuable cars made. It’s about restoration, it’s about preservation, and it’s about art. These cars require very specific and specialized needs, and although high maintenance, they sure are a joy just to sit back and look at when you’re finished. Fortunately I take a lot of photos, and can continue to enjoy them even after they leave the shop. Having said that, let’s take a closer look at just some of the cars I performed paint correction details on in 2011.
Ferraris? Yeah, I detailed a few of them this year…
Sure, Ferraris are my specialty and this year I got the opportunity to work on just about every size and color. Old ones, new ones…they’re all cool in my book. Here’s a variety of some that I worked on.
This is what they typically look like from the factory (yes, this is actually a black car!)
And after about 20+ hours worth of compounding and fine polishing, this is what they look like when I’m done (and you already saw the Grigio Silverstone and Rosso Corsa models earlier in this article)
Testarossas / 512 TR’s…did quite a few of them as well.
575 Maranello…refined, V12 beauty!
Classic 275 GTB’s…
The detail helped bring home an award at the prestigious Ault Park Concours
Beastly 599’s. I’ve done a LOT of Rosso Corsa paint, but this one might have taken the prize for the one that looked the absolute best!
355’s…I’m pretty sure I’ve worked on every color of the 355 this year. And when I say worked on, I mean major paint correction details…not just a wash & wax!
How’s that for a brilliant finish?!
308 / 328’s…
Scuderias (this is how most of my cars are delivered…via truck)
Lamborghini Detailing at its best!
My list of Lamborghini clients grew considerably this year, and I got the opportunity to work on some really exciting models.
Underground Racing Superleggera…1500 HP beast! This car was delivered to me straight from Underground Racing, and definitely won the award for highest HP vehicle of the year.
1250 HP Underground Racing Gallardo…
This was one of the craziest details I’ve ever done. This show car was absolutely covered in heavy paint overspray, and the utmost care had to be taken to restore it to (beyond) its former glory.
I did a quite a few of these this year…
These things are just beasts…
Airplanes? Yep…when you have clients with airplanes, you get to work on them as well! This is one that Addison and I did together.
Well as you can see, it’s been quite an exciting year in 2011! With the beautiful cars I’ve gotten the opportunity to work on, the exciting detailing trips, product development projects, visitors from within the industry, the educational articles and training, and the opportunity to work with my good detailing friends…it all adds up to a fulfilling career.
But while I look back on 2011, I too must look forward to 2012. I have a lot of big plans on the table, and some really exciting opportunities that will be presented to me in the coming year. There will be more articles written, more videos filmed, more collection management, more shows & travel, and more ways for me to do my part to bring the art of highline detailing to the general public.
And last but not least, let me personally thank the thousands of loyal monthly readers to my blog(s). The feedback that I receive from all of you helps motivate me to continually raise the bar for the work that I do, and for the educational material that I write.
Cheers to a great detailing year in 2011, and I certainly look forward to new heights in 2012.
Please leave any comments or questions below, and also feel free to share this article on your favorite forum or social media website.Best regards, Todd Cooperider