The summer concours season is now well and truly underway, and whether you have always wanted to enter a concours but not sure what it entails, or if you are familiar with the events but unsure of how to gain the best advantage, we have compiled the ultimate quick guide to make entering a concours with your classic easy.
Luckily for classic car owners, the UK is a hotbed of classic car events that take place all across the country, catering for all tastes and all cars. While there are internationally attended events at locations such as Hampton Court Palace (sponsored by Footman James) and large events like Chateau Impney Hill Climb, there are also hundreds of locally organised events that cater for single marques and local clubs which are open to all comers regardless of vehicle age. A concours event is first and foremost meant to be enjoyed, so find an event that suits your taste which will welcome your vehicle.
At the risk of stating the obvious, your vehicle will need to be clean; really clean, inside, outside and under the bonnet. No corner can be left untouched if you are looking for trophies.
When it comes to washing a car, the old adage of ‘start at the top and work downwards’ is key. Areas such as cabriolet hoods need a brush off and a shampoo before the paintwork is touched, and areas that are likely to hold the most grime such as wheels (if possible take the wheel off to clean, that way you can clean, polish or paint the hub and calipers) and the underside should be left to last. Make sure to rinse off as much loose dust and dirt as you can before beginning the sponging process, avoiding the use of strong and non-automotive soaps that can damage old paintwork and chrome. Above all, remember to rinse the sponge regularly as you go so you don’t drag the dirt across the paintwork.
Expert restorer Nigel Woodward, Managing Director of Classic Motor Cars, said: “It is amazing how well an old-fashioned chamois leather works. After washing the car using a good quality shampoo such as our Classic Guard ceramic-infused product, remove excess water and dry the paint, glass and brightwork with a good quality chamois. It gives you a really good head start on polishing the car by leaving the surfaces streak free. You can even use it to help clean leather and vinyl interior trim. Just remember to wash the chamois thoroughly after use in warm soapy water and it will last you for years.”
A pro tip for bringing out the shine in paintwork prior to applying a wax polish is to deep clean the paint of microscopic amounts of grit and road dirt using a clay bar. Available in most car accessory shops, this often-overlooked step will instantly improve the effectiveness of any wax polish and will decrease any areas of swirling likely to show up in bright sunshine.
There are two schools of thought on judging concours cars, of which more will be said next month, but, if your pride and joy is a regularly used example that wears its miles with honour, rather than a freshly restored jewel, never fear. While some judges favour highly restored examples, others are more interested in provenance, originality and the stories behind a car. Whichever way your classic presents, a sure-fire way of winning the hearts and minds of judges is to put together a file of information on your car, including copies of any invoices you have for it, and even photos from the vehicle’s history. Be prepared to talk about your vehicle to the judges as they inspect it and talk them through any stories relating to its history that are of interest.
As well as looking the part, it's important that everything is also operating as it should - from bonnet locks to pressure gauges. Handily, Fisher Group have put together a checklist that you can use to ensure that no stone is left unturned!
A high standard of cleanliness is expected, and points could be deducted if items that were not chrome plated are now. This section could be awarded up to 25 points.
DOORS, BONNET & BOOT
This section covers everything which would have been done by a trimmer – leather, cloth, carpet, wood and includes interior handles, lights and instruments. This section could be awarded up to 25 points.
The engine could be started and judged on smoothness and quietness. Engine instruments should function correctly when the engine is running. Once again, a high standard of cleanliness would be expected. This section could be awarded up to 25 points.
ENGINE LUBRICATION SYSTEM
Including chassis, running gear, springs, wheels and brakes.This section could be awarded up to 25 points.
REAR AXLE AREA
FRONT AXLE AREA
ACCESSORIES, CONTROLS ETC
Do you have any pro tips for preparing your car? If so, let us know in the comments section below.