KENNETH WONG 黃恩揚- 經營優質高級汽車事業，對處理高檔車種，擁有豐富經驗。經常參與高端汽車相關活動，其文章定期於汽車傳媒刊登。在創辦Classic Insider之前，是香港首間經典車拍賣行的營運總監。
夏天很快完結，不少一年一度的古董車展即將舉行，大家有否想過參加今年的古董車展？香港的古董車展有三個，分別是香港老爺車會（The Classic Car Club of Hong Kong）、香港珍藏車協會（Collectors Car Club of Hong Kong）和今年不會舉辦的黃金海岸車展 (Hong Kong Goldcoast Motor Festival)。
How to prepare your car for Concourse (Part 1)
BY KENNETH WONG - Classic Insider
Summer is almost over and Car show season is just around the corner, have you considered entering your car into one of the club’s concourse d’elegance show.
What show to go to? Let’s just focus on the shows in Hong Kong.
1) The Classic Car Club of Hong Kong
2) Collectors Car Club of Hong Kong
3) GoldCoast Motor Festival (Not running in 2018)
Decide if you are entering into the competition?
You need to decide if you just want to do “the show only” or you want your car to be judged in a Concourse D’Elegance competition.
If you are entering into the competition. Like many things in life, a classic car show is made even more enjoyable by a little preparation. There are only a few rules, and all of them are very easy to follow. And of course the main thing is simply to enjoy the show as much as you possibly can.
As I have mentioned in Issue #2: A car can only be original once, therefore originality and authenticity is key to winning. Concourse D’Elegance anywhere in the world prides themselves on attention to the originality and authenticity of the entries, as well as the elegance and special character of the cars. The car presented should not only be a beautiful display of rolling sculpture, but also one that makes a significant contribution to the preservation of automotive history. Preservation is key, therefore a completely original and unrestored automobile will always score higher than one that is shiny and restored recently.
Which car to enter?
Deciding which car to compete in a classic car show is of strategic importance. You will be competing with long-established collectors and many other cars; but as always, money isn’t everything, as proven by some successes at even the most prestigious events. Concours organizers always publish their classes a long time in advance to maximize the number of applications to participate
Check out online to see which car entered in the show from previous years
Do you have a car that fits the criteria and may have a chance to compete
How to get there?
Is your car drivable on the streets of Hong Kong, do you need to arrange a Trade-plate or the club’s movement permit. Maybe you need to arrange towing your car to the show.
How to prepare The exterior
To take it from “not looking bad at all” to the desired “wow” on the field takes hard work, if you can’t do it yourself, hire someone to. Every judge’s score book has a space for “presentation” marks. It doesn’t help if your car has missing parts, terrible paintwork but there’s no doubt that a waxed car, shiny as a mirror, with clean rims and windows will always get more points than if it was dirty.
When just doing a “normal” clean, there are quite a few areas that are easy to forget, and the judges know exactly where these are. One spot they will always check, for example, is the inside of the fenders. It’s not visible when looking at the car from the outside but it’s easy to reach and inspect, and is often used as a barometer of how the invisible parts of the car are kept. When preparing the car, always be aware that what you are doing in a closed room with artificial light will have to appear perfect even under direct sunlight, when white clouds of wax left on the paint will become much more visible.
Rims and tires
The shoulders of the tires do not have to be shiny, but do have to be of uniform color, without the lighter spots caused by the grease used to mount the tires on the rim. Rims, especially wire rims, are a nightmare to clean. Every rim collects brake dust, but if you keep them waxed and cleaned, it’s much easier to prepare them for show.
Shiny: chrome parts
Very high level cars that aspire to top placings at concours use a different kind of base for the chroming to give a deeper shine. Polished chrome will always enhance a car, but be careful to avoid scratches when working. Extra care is needed if the chromed part is close to the exhaust: the acid in the fumes tends to “yellow” the chrome so these parts will require extra effort to be kept perfectly clean. The small chrome strips surrounding the windows are often forgotten, which is a shame because their position makes them highly visible.
All glass must be clean. And remember to roll down the side windows too, so you can remove the line of moisture that gets hidden in the rubber.
If you walk away three steps, and start to like the result, walk up close again and open the doors, trunk and front lid. There are meters of borders and edges that never get washed, because they are neither truly outside or inside. And these are the parts that the judges will see as soon as they go to look at the engine, trunk compartments and interior.
How to prepare the Interior
The interior of a car is a real nightmare to clean. You have to cope with many different kinds of material, small spaces, different kinds of dirt, and countless hard-to-reach areas. Cleaning a cockpit requires a lot of different tools, rags and cleaning products that take up a lot of space and are usually missing when you are away from home. But there is no quicker way to lose points than to show judges a car with dirty carpets and seats. Some tricks can help, but always remember that the best way to keep everything clean, is to stop dirt getting in.
Much of the beauty of a car is created by its external shape, but as soon as you get closer it’s the cockpit that gets all the attention. The inside of a car is key to concours competition because it is judged on so many criteria. Preservation or restoration of the seat fabric/leather, or of the carpets, dials and instruments, door panels and ceiling are all evaluated separately and need to be taken care of. And this takes a lot of time: it is impossible to leave proper interior cleaning till show time, when only a few minor adjustments will be feasible.
As every workshops knows, a piece of paper is usually enough to protect the carpet, and this is what you should use in the run up to the competition, though you can sometimes also get custom-made transparent plastic covers. Another solution is to have over-mats, made in the same material to cover the actual carpet the judges will see. Of course, as a courtesy to onlookers all this protection has to be removed once the car is on show, even if it’s an open-top.
With the right soap, leather is easier to clean than fabric. A damp sponge, some warm water and a delicate detergent can work miracles. And then when everything is dry you need to apply a softener and nutrients to keep the leather supple and free from cracks. Seat fabric is very difficult to clean, because moisture tends to penetrate. For normal maintenance a soft brush with warm water and ammonia is enough, but for more thorough treatment, or for a first go at an old car, you may need to take the fabric off the seats to give it a deep clean. The easiest thing to clean and keep clean is fake leather, which is basically plastic.
Wood, chrome and ornaments are there to be seen and judges will certainly look at them. Instruments must be clean: it’s almost impossible for judges to tell if things are in working order, but they will see immediately if anything is dirty. And don’t forget the glove box (many people do).
Formally, concours judging is done with the soft top in raised position. To avoid last minute surprises, always ask well in advance how the soft top should be presented. Sometimes judges will ask you to open or close the top just to prove that the mechanism is in working order.
How to Prepare Engine / Trunk
It amazes me is seeing how many incredible cars, well prepared and presented in all other respects, fail when the time comes to show the engine bay or trunk. Chaotic tangles of cables or piles of wastepaper can cost a lot of points. While the engine bay is always inspected, trunk evaluations are dependent on the whim of the chief judge.
If there is time and it’s not raining, the trunk may well come into play, but often it’s left closed and forgotten. Again you need to find out as early as possible if this is the plan. This is the moment when spare wheels, tool kits and engine leakage can make a big difference. If this seems silly to you, always remember that these are the most difficult, time consuming and expensive things to find and fix. An original jack for an Iso Rivolta Grifo costs about EUR 1200 simply because it is the same as the one for the Ferrari 250 GTO.
Is it really worth spending so much effort cleaning an old engine, which after few minutes of use will be dirty again? Absolutely yes, because any judge in the world will deduct points for the smallest drop of oil or speck of dust, still more if modern parts are spotted. A typical mistake is the use of screws too modern for the age of the car, or colored pipes (for liquid or spark plugs). Today, judges consider some signs of wear and tear in the engine bay as a mark of honor rather than something to criticize. However, you must keep the inside of the hood clean, and avoid dust – dirt and dust being typical signs of neglect.
It’s not unusual to see trunks being emptied on the field, with all the “merchandise” piled around the car. Usually, the less clutter you have around the car the better. But if you’ve just arrived at the event, judging is about to start and you’ve had no chance to put the luggage and boxes anywhere else, rather than transform the concours field into a market, just leave everything inside the trunk and explain the situation to the judges.
How to Prepare the Documents:
Everything we’ve said so far about preparation means nothing if the paperwork isn’t right. The whole concours experience centers on the documentation that proves everything we say, everything we show and everything we declare about our car is correct and true. In the classic car world more than just about anywhere else, good research can be worth millions of dollars – of cost or profit. Classic car shows are frequented mainly by very honest people, but increasingly, hard evidence is also required.
…is worth more than 1000 words. Certainly that’s what judges around the world think, and there’s no better way to prove that your car’s special features are original, than a picture of the car from the period it was built. If you don’t have one, try to prove your point with pictures taken during restoration, or images from period magazines. The more original your documentation, or the more renowned the researcher, the more impressed the judges will be.
More and more car manufacturers have created classic car departments to provide collectors with information. They’re usually expensive, but they are a great source of basic data about original specifications, equipment and production/delivery dates. Most of these in-house departments are quite new and can’t provide much information about the history of the car after it left the production line. Private researchers, usually specialized by brand, model or period, are an even better source, because they tend to have years of experience in their very specific field. The basic point is that the more you know about your car, the better the story you can tell the judges.
Showing a car means introducing it to the world. So you have to share everything you know about it. You should have all invoices for every bit of work done on the car from the moment of purchase, preferably accompanied by pictures and other evidence. Restoration records often tell the wider story too – the car’s history of crashes, modifications, change of colors and so on. Document everything.
Real life history
Researching your car’s old owners can unveil surprises, unearth documents and, if you are lucky, throw up some old pictures that feature the car in earlier times. The journeys a car has made always add glamour, especially if they were international or on a famous route. If the car was a racer, old magazines are precious sources, as are starting lists and programs. And never forget that actually taking a car to a show is the best way to make people aware of it; and it’s surprising how often a friend of a friend of a passer-by happens to know a thing or two about your car’s history.
There are two kinds of “no history”: the first is a history that nobody knows; the second is simply a history with no story. At Pebble Beach in 2015, for example, there was a wonderful car in the preservation class. If you have researched the matter in depth without finding anything useful, show what you have and demonstrate how much effort you have made to track down everything else. This will show judges your goodwill, commitment and competence. And in 50 years’ time, your efforts will be seen as the starting point for all subsequent research.
How to show your documents
A nice, maybe even beautiful looking, ring binder is the best approach. Avoid electronic devices, because on the field, under direct sunlight, without electric power and so on, these are not reliable. Always bring copies of the original papers or pictures, never the originals themselves. Arrange the file by theme, e.g. basic data, general history, restorations of body/engine/interior, journeys/races, and so on. Judges work in a team, and each team member has an individual focus, so arrange your book in such a way that each can easily find what they are interested in. A final consideration: judges are not usually youngsters; keep this in mind when you print out your documents. Big, high contrast fonts can make a real difference!