Recently, one of my clients in California purchased a 1987 M5 from a person over here on the east coast. We coordinated to bring the car into the shop and get to work on it ASAP because we had a hard deadline before the trailer came to take it to the west coast. Anyone who has ever polished a car that was manufactured pre 1990s knows that more than likely if its original paint it’s going to be a single stage finish.
What is Single Stage Paint?
Single stage paint finish where all the materials are premixed and applied as the finish. On Modern paint finishes, there are coats of color followed by a clear. In a single state, there is no multi stage process, you just keep shooting the paint and layer it up. It is often characterized that when a single stage finish is being polished it will change the color of your pads to the color of the paint because you are literally taking the paint off the car vs working on the clear on a modern paint job. Some people consider it harder because older paint is already more risky to burn, but a 20+ year finish that literally requires you to remove part of the finish is a recipe for disaster in the hands of an inexperienced detailer.
What Did I use to Polish the Car?
The first thing I always recommend is to try a small unaggressive combination of products in an area that’s not an edge to see what the results will be. So I took Griots Boss Correcting Compound and my Meguiars Microfiber Cutting Pad and went to work on a small area of the hood. I like to start on the hood because that’s the most abused part of this car. The sun has been beaming on it for 30+ years, and the road debris has been hitting it for 140k+ miles so if we can make this panel look like a mirror we can clean this car up ezpz. I found that the combination of these two products was working so this is what I used to remove all the swirls and defects.
To finish the car down nice I struggled a bit. I originally tried to continue with another microfiber finishing pad but it was leaving behind little small swirls you could only see under intense light. The customer was not going to notice them BUT I DID. So, that wasn’t going to fly. Since the paint seemed like it needed something hard yet soft to remove those final small swirls I turned to Meguiars 205 finishing polish and a Car Pro Gloss pad. The soft yet stern, foam pad did the trick to make sure the paint was left flawless.
How did I protect the Single Stage Paint?
When it comes down to protecting single stage paint, the biggest thing to keep in mind is how the paint is going to react with what you are using to protect it. I originally tried some spray sealant and it was leaving weird streaks you could see in the sun. I guess nanotechnology doesn’t respond well to paint not having a “clear” coat. So I used a classic Carnauba Wax. I like to apply it by hand on these old cars. Kind of feels like the right thing to do because that’s how they did it back then.
When the car arrived in California the customer was ecstatic with the job that was completed. He saw the car a few years prior to purchasing it and had only seen it after I finished bringing the car back to life!