A few years ago I received a call from a gentleman who was interested in having us wrap the front end of the C7 Z06 he was ordering with paint protection film. After a bit of chatting and exploring the available options, he was happy to learn that paint protection film could be applied over a full exterior of a vehicle because he knew himself to be quite particular about protecting such an expensive vehicle. As it went, he ended up not buying a Corvette and I didn’t hear from him for a couple of years.
Fast forward to June of 2018. The same gentleman calls to tell me that he found a 458 he believed was worth purchasing from out of state. Once all the nuances of the purchase were sorted, he had the car delivered directly to our facility. The Ferrari 458 arrives to my facility in July of 2018. Unfortunately, between the owner personally inspected the car before shipping and it being unloaded from the transporter, the rear bumper received some impact mark. I can not say exactly what occurred as I didn’t see it happen, but as I was inspecting the car on his behalf it was noted on the bill of lading. You’ll find images of the impact mark noted below along with how we addressed the area.
The first step in the process was going to be to wash and decontaminate the exterior of the vehicle so to allow us a thorough assessment of the condition of each surface and identify possible paths to meet our client’s needs. If you’re familiar with articles here on the AAP blog, you’re likely familiar with the process. Instead of pictures showing the simple process we are all familiar with, I will simply provide my path and list of products used to accomplish the task.
- Shampoo: Sonax Car Wash
- Grit Guards in each buck
- 3 different wash mitts to limit cross contamination
- Boar’s hair brushes for gently eliminating the debris from the countless gaps and voids
- Sonax Fallout Cleaner for chemical decontamination
- Removal of hard-bonded contaminates via the GENTLE use of a decontamination pad
- Wheels, wheel wells and tires cleaned with a combination of brushes, wheel woolies, microfiber towels, degreaser and Sonax Wheel Cleaner Plus
- Degreaser used on all exterior plastics and appropriate rubber surfaces
- Air dried
Once the wash and decontamination service was completed, I assessed the condition of the paint, what would be needed to correct it to a given degree and then opened a dialog with my client about the possible paths that were available to him. And this is where things for many folks can get a little more complex…
In the case of this car, it had a few thousand miles on it and the paint had fairly significant superficial defects such as marring, sanding pigtails, swirl marks, etc. But at the same time, the owner intended for us to completely wrap the whole body of the 458 with paint protection film. What I understand and which I need him to also understand, was that when paint protection film is applied over superficial defects in paint such as swirl marks, they appear to vanish. Of course, those defects are still present but one can not see them as I have previously discuss in this Ask-A-Pro article: Clear Bra: The Defect Masking Effect
*Please note that there is a limit to what superficial defects this applies to*
After much consideration, he opted to forego paint correction as long as the paint looked incredible when we were done. This was not a matter of him being unwilling to have the paint corrected prior to our wrapping the body with PPF but it was simply a matter of him feeling that if he can’t practically tell a difference, he is happy to save some healthy coin and still hit the aesthetic mark.
Below you’ll find a few of the images of the condition the paint was in when we were finally staring at bare clear coat.
There were some smaller sections of factory-installed paint protection film and a front bumper clear bra installation which was many years old which needed to be removed. This was done after the wash and decontamination. If you know anything about removing clear bra from Ferrari’s you know how it’s not unheard of that paint lifts during the removal process. This was discussed with the owner in-depth and he accepted that this was a possibility even though we have had great success with removing paint protection film from Ferrari’s. I am happy to say our slow and meticulous removal process proved to be a complete success though as not a single area of paint lifted with the clear bra.
Once the Ferrari was up on our 2-post lift, the wheels were removed. This gave us full access to all of the wheels’ surfaces, the brake calipers and all of the wheel arches. This service was about making the car as reasonably like-new as possible. Doing this kind of restorative detail is not possible without the wheels spending time off of the vehicle.
As a side note: lug nuts were loosened, removed and reinstalled by hand and torqued to factory spec. No impact wrench was used.
The build up and grime shown in the following images was firmly bonded to the wheels’ paint. Removal required adhesive remover, many towels and plastic razor blades. Once physically clean, we buzzed the paint with a finishing pad and refinement polish. It was important to get the wheels fully decontaminated not just for the aesthetics but also because they were going to be coated.
***For continuity’s sake: note the consistent orientation of the wheel displayed in the photographs via the wheel weight at the 6 o’clock position***
Using our steamer, detailing brushes, degreasers/APC’s and a bunch of towels (God rest their souls -lol!) we thoroughly detailed all of the exposed suspension components and wheel arches.
Before detailing all the suspension and arches:
After detailing all the suspension and arches:
(any discoloration is either staining or corrosion)
With the style of paint protection film wrap the owner opted for, it was important to make the installation of clear bra as practically invisible as possible. As, what I call our “Advanced Wrap”, this meant we removed a few parts. The way our client felt comfortable was to take the front and rear badges off and leave the front fender shields in place (per my recommendation). The side shields just did not present a clear value/risk proposition. While they can be removed, it can be a bit of a beast to take them off safely and I knew we could leave them on and have incredibly tight tolerances. So that’s what we did.
The door handles were removed to limit the seams and provide better protection on the door itself. This also allowed for us to wrap the handles beautifully where every time a door is opened, there is no physical tell that film is over the paint. The gas door was removed to provide the same beautiful aesthetic, protection and seamlessness to both the gas door and the rear quarter filler opening itself.
Notice how dirty this area is. Without removal of the handle, there is no possible way to detail this area. Without this kind of a cleaning, there is a high chance of some ancient dirt finding its way out and between the clear bra film and the paint during the installation. There is no such a thing as “over kill” when it comes to decontaminating a vehicle for a paint protection film wrap.
Making the clear bra wrap a “certain way” on the handles…
Practically invisible PPF:
Find the paint protection film while fueling up if you can:
Some of the unique aspects of this project are not obvious at a quick glance of the car even in person.
For instance, the hood of the vehicle was wrapped with 2 layers of paint protection film. This doubled protection offered the owner the peace of mind he needed for such a high-impact area. Practically any surface could be wrapped with 2 layers of PPF but there’s a point where the aesthetics begin to suffer on edges and in corners. 2 layers of paint protection film need specific conditions to look invisible. Intense stretching and tight edge/corner tolerances/angles limit the true practicality of doubling up the protective film.
Satin paint protection film was used on the front bumper center matte plastics to maintain a factory-look while still providing an otherwise stock appearance.
As noted early in this post, the rear bumper took a shot from the delivery guy. I failed to properly capture the real essence of the damage and each one of these photos were taken at least many days apart. So you’ll have to use a little bit of your imagination (my mistake folks!!).
If I didn’t tell you, you wouldn’t know that the tail lights were wrapped with clear bra too!
(the paint has clear bra installed and finished in this image as well)
All film was custom wrapped to give me the best shot at the tightest tolerances possible. The following series of images displays some during-installation shots, a part of the process I call “baby sitting” the film and some final, critical images which show the final fit and finish:
“Baby sitting” the installation is where it the film edges sit for at least a day to fully dry out, are finessed into a tight fit and then it sits overnight for a final assessment and trimming. It may require additional trimming if the clear coat in these tight recesses are not healthy enough to allow a quality bond for the adhesive. But even then, the tolerances will still be tighter than a standard computer cut pattern. For the record I am not knocking computer-cut templates, we use those too. But this is not “standard”, this is my “advanced” wrap and thus it’s just more special than what a pre-cut pattern can offer in this case.)
All of the final fit and finished shots below are also after the surfaces were coated with Modesta BC-04.
Once all of the paint protection film was installed, baby sat, competed our quality holds and was completely trimmed, the body was coated with Modesta BC-04. This final addition was the icing on this artful cake. It provided a world-class luster and chemical resistance that will last for the practical life of the clear bra.
And finally, the final product! From here you’ll find many telling photographs showing off the way edges, corners and badges came out. You’ll see that all rubber seals that we could wrap under were done just so (such as where the roof/A-pillar/windshield sync up). You’ll see the kind of luster that came out and the 458 finally delivered to the owner at his home and sitting in his drive way.
Thanks for taking the time to have a look at my article…I am grateful that you made it this far! And too, I apologize for not taking more descriptive photographs but unfortunately I was living behind on my schedule and I did what I practically could in terms of documentation. At the very bottom of this post you’ll also find a little video of the 458 I put together. I hope you’ve enjoyed me sharing this project’s journey with you and encourage you to keep pressing your own skills forward and make sure you take full advantage of all the awesome products Detailed Image offers!!
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