如何為老爺車選美作準備 Part 2: 接受挑戰 ～ 勇敢地參加經典車選美
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KENNETH WONG 黃恩揚- Classic insider 創辦人，經營高級經典及跑車買賣。對處理高檔車種擁有豐富經驗。曾是香港首間經典車拍賣行的營運總監。經常參與高端古董及跑車的相關活動，貼近市場脈搏
How to prepare your car for Concourse (Part 2)
BY KENNETH WONG - Classic Insider
Entering the event where your classic car is about to be judged is always an emotional experience. You have to be a bit brave, because you are undoubtedly accepting a serious challenge. The day will be long: you will usually need to wake up quite early to get there in time, and you will have time to kill before the judges arrive. Make the most of this time to enjoy yourself. Always remember that this is not supposed to be work, or a life-and-death matter. This is a day out, among friends, to enjoy classic cars.
Entering the show
Usually very early in the morning, you are likely to find yourself in a rather wonderful classic car traffic jam. Keep this in mind if your car has limited cooling capabilities. If it’s possible to park your car in the right spot the evening before, do so, but protect it from the elements with a cover. If you drive there in the morning, try to warm the car up in the process, to help it get through a day of engine off/idling/engine off.
At this point, everything major should already have been done, and you will just have to attend to small details. It’s always a good idea to wipe with a microfiber cloth. Remove any dust and check that everything inside is as it’s supposed to be. Place the documents and things you want to show to the judges together on a waterproof laminated sheet. This will protect them from damp and keep things in order when the crowds arrive and the day gets hectic. It also makes things easier for the judges. The organizers will usually let you know the approximate timing of judging well in advance, so you can avoid leaving everything out of the car for too long.
You know everything about your car, and you can repeat everything you’ve written in your cockpit notebook by heart. Even so, a final practice is always useful, and the crowd admiring your car is the perfect audience. They are obviously interested – why else would they be there? – and will listen attentively to every word you have to say about your pride and joy. The added bonus, if they have the opportunity to vote for a “public trophy”, is that they will feel more involved with your car. Treat them as if they were judges, answer their question, and try to gauge their emotional connection, because it’s likely that the judges will feel something similar. The only difference being that the judges are more professional and will show it less.
Introducing yourself to fellow entrants in your class is not only a sign of good manners, but gives you an awareness of the space surrounding you and the challenge you face. Knowledge is everything. Knowing who you have to compete with is a good starting point, because it allows you to adjust your strategy when presenting the car, enhancing aspects where your rivals are weak, or playing down areas where others are stronger. Of course it’s also a great opportunity to look at beautiful cars and learn their history too.
First and foremost, please remember to be there next to your car, fully prepared and here are 6 common mistakes to AVOID.
1.Enemies or friends?
Entrants often forget that judges are not their enemies. They are passionate people with specialist knowledge who are happy to be seeing so many beautiful cars. Most of the time, even if they don’t show it, judges would love to spend half a day looking at your car, listening to everything you can tell them and improving their knowledge. After a judging week-end, the most common regret among judges is that they simply didn’t have the time to explore a couple of the cars more deeply and talk more with their owners.
2. The result
The final result is not usually produced by a mathematical formula, because when totting up all the final scores you may well find that two cars, maybe one totally restored and another totally preserved, have exactly the same score. This is where judges have to make a decision based on their personal taste and instinct – which is of course endlessly debatable. However, judging teams are usually very consistent and at the start of the day will establish the criteria to be followed for all the cars they see.
3. Level of preparation
Judges are often surprised to find so many cars entered in competition with a very low level of preparation. Most of the judges we talked to, suggested that, generally speaking, cars should be prepared more carefully. Leaving in the over-mats is a very common mistake, for example. It would take 10 seconds to remove them to show the real mats. Messy cockpits and very dirty, neglected engine bays are also all too common.
4. Too much or too little information
Sometimes you feel like the potential buyer of a second hand car, with the seller trying to convince you to buy on the spot, without giving you time to think. Others act like you’re trying to steal their secrets.
Owners tend to give us too much useless information, while others can be very tight-lipped about any work done on the car. It helps if you tell them what’s really important about your car: tell them as much as you can, but avoid general information about the model and stick on the history of your particular car. I’ll be more impressed and ultimately they will remember more. It’s good to stick to the essentials. Sometimes owners don’t like it when judges ask questions. This is wrong, because they might actually be trying to find some information that could tip the balance in favor of one car over another. If you don’t know the answer, that’s not a problem, but if you do, it could make all the difference.
5. Drive the Judge
While judging, judges have to listen more than talk and owners really ought to point them to the important things so we can focus on them. Most owners fail to do this, which is strange. If you tell them that a huge effort was made during the restoration to keep the paint in straight lines even round all the curves, the judges will look more deeply at this point because we all know how difficult this can be. And if you are one of the first cars to be judged, the amazing, perfect straightness of your lines could become a reference point for other cars for the rest of the day. Play to your strengths. Original parts or documentation, special equipment, a preserved part with the original finish – all of these things could put you ahead of the competition. You don’t have to tell them how good your car is. Just prompt them to look in the right places, and you’ll make easier for them to see for themselves.
6. Double check the papers…
It may seem silly, but sometimes car registered as “show only” even though the owner thought he was actually competing. And if this is only discovered on the day of the show, it’s already too late. So double check all documents received from the organizers, and check again when the final program is published.
THE MOMENT OF TRUTH
1. TALK TO THE JUDGE
Here they are: after so much effort, work and expenses, this group of 3 to 5 judges, are coming to judge your car. This is the very moment you worked for, and in the next 8-10 minutes, you’ll have to “sell” your car at your best. No mistakes are allowed, because you are under exams, and the time is so tight that there will be no time to correct anything. While judges will play their role, looking cool and very difficult to impress, you have to play your, being a gentleman who, entered your car into the competition to win.
2. GOOD MANNERS
If you are alone, simply remain close to the driver door and welcome them. Most likely will be the “chief” of the team being the first to shake your hand. If you already know each other, a quick “how are you today” will be more than enough, because in this very moment time is everything. If not, after introducing yourself to the first judge, he will introduce you to the others. Judges will show good manners in not touching your car, never: they are there to look only and, if they want to look inside the cockpit they can’t simply opening the door, but they have to ask you if could do it. At the end, they will usually thank you for bringing the car to the show, and you’ll thank them for judging your car.
3. DIRECT THEIR FOCUS ON THE IMPORTANT STUFF
Skip all the basic information, and directly go on what is really important, and, of course, in this you can enhance what is more a bonus for you. If you spent extra money in going to a famous restoration shop, this is the moment to show the name, because judges most likely will know him and the quality of its works, and this make them feeling better. In the same time, show them how well you did in the difficult areas of your car, every model has its weakness, because of if you did well in there, the assumption is that you did well in the easiest part too. If you drove the car to the event lets them be aware of it, because they will more friendly in judging the cleanliness of the car and of the interior. Explain them the difficult decision you had to take during the process of the restoration, and how you managed it, based on what information and experts you had access to, because this show attention to detail and an analytics approach to every issue.
4. OPEN TO QUESTIONS
Most often judges will make some questions; it is not because they are doubting about your car, but is a real sign of interest and, if your car has the right potential, a “underline” request of support in helping them to “sell your car” to the other judges team. What is often forget on the field, is the fact that Judges, your “enemy” of the moment, soon after finishing the first part of their duty, looking at the cars to pick the best in their class, they become your best allied in convincing the other judges that “their pick” is the perfect Best in Show winner. In this moment, when questioned by the other judges, more answer they are of giving, better is for you. So, when a judge will ask you if you have any evidence of your car racing history or for the unusual modification it sustained back in period, be happy, because they are trying to collect the information they could need.
5. WHEN THEY ARE DONE
As soon as the judges thank you and move away to discuss their views privately and fill in the score paper, your duty is over. There is nothing else you can do now but enjoy the rest of the day. Put everything away that you had out to show the judges, check that trunk and engine hood are properly closed, double check that the lights are off and the ignition key is where it should be. If the car has a soft top and the judges wanted it closed, this is when you can open it again to show off the cockpit.
From now on, the day is yours. Many people go around looking for other cars, owners and friends, others relax by taking a small nap or chatting with onlookers. If you go for a wander, be sure to have your cell phone with you with the ringer on. The organizers will have your number, and if you have to move the car for any reason – hopefully to go to the stage to collect a trophy – they can call you.
WHAT CAN YOU DO AFTER THE EVENT
It’s over. The event is finished and you are preparing to go home. If you won, give yourself and your team a break. But if you didn’t win, force yourself to look around the field, no matter how tired you are. Many people make the mistake of leaving as soon as they can, which means they might miss a vital piece of information that could help them next time. As in many areas of life, the time “just after” is an important time for analysis: you still have a fresh memory of what has happened and are still in an “event mood”, which tends to be a better frame of mind for finding solutions.
1. Look at the winners
Best in class winners are often declared well before the end of the show. If you are not one of the winners, your day is done. This is the time when you must try to learn something from your experience. Spending 10 minutes looking at the class winners could teach you a lot about what it takes to succeed. There will probably be a very happy owner around, who is more willing than normal to disclose some of the secrets of car preparation. Look at how he or she put together the book to show the judging team, look at the condition of his car, including the small details, and don’t forget that even if the cars are very different, many principles are the same. Don’t forget to congratulate the winner. Trust me when I say that even the richest collector, with the greatest team supporting him, will have worked hard and slept badly in the run up to the triumph.
2. Ask the specialist
Just think: you are enjoying the unique opportunity of having one of the greatest specialists judging your pride and joy. Analyzing it in every practical detail and then, just afterwards, offering a 5 minute debrief for you, full of their ideas and opinions. How much would it cost you? So ask them if there is any way for you to improve your car. Even if you don’t bring home a trophy, you will have made your trip to the classic car show extremely worthwhile.
3. Final consideration
There is no single recipe for winning best in show. Which is good, because if there was we’d lose 90% of the fun on the field. Showing a classic is like a military campaign: have a strategy to follow but once on the field, you must adapt as you go along. The most important thing is that we never forget to enjoy every single moment, because we have the most difficult, challenging, fulfilling hobby in the world. If you feel less in love with your classic after a series of bad show results, simply take her out for a drive in the country. You will soon remember why you drive a classic, and how wonderful it is to have perhaps not a best in show winner, but a car that you can use without too many worries.