14 October 2015

Let's Get Clean, aka: "I Know a Guy Who Won a Contest Once"

Cleaning a used car is one of the easiest way to add value to it.  Years ago, I won a concour event with the S54.  This is a lot like that.  Took several days to clean this car, but completely worth the effort.  Here is what I did.

Washed the car thoroughly.  Looked like it had been ages – maybe even since new – since someone washed the door jambs, underside of the hood, and insides of the hatch.  I went through and washed all of those areas as good as I could.  I washed the engine bay but at this time didn’t use anything stronger than soap to degrease and clean it.  Will get to that later.  Used a toothbrush and quick detailer to get all of the crevices near the body seam sealer, in all the places I could find and get to, everywhere.  I removed the door sills and the closeout black plastic in the door openings, cleaned and waxed everything, replaced all clips and put it back together. 

The side gills looked much better washed, but for the over-the-top experience I removed them and asked my wife to detail them.  Seriously.  She details the kitchen stove and raves about the results, this was the same way.  See the before and afters.  Yes, I am a lucky man.  The chrome “fishbones” on the side gills had serious water spots and had even started to tarnish a little.  We completely disassembled them and used Simichrome Metal Polish, which I got turned on to during my days of owning BMW boxer motorcycles.  Works great.  We also restored the black parts on the side gills – and the door handles on the car – with Griot's Black Trim and Bumper Reconditioner.  The actual black stuff.  The little wedges on the backs of the gills are virtually impossible to remove without cracking them.  At least when they are 16 years old.  The replacements are $3.60r each.  Not cheap.  A tie wrap may work in a pinch, but I didn’t want to chance having the chrome fishbone come off underway.   Completely waxed both the gill and the fishbone before reassembling them.

After washing and cleaning, I clay barred the whole car, polished with my Porter-Cable random orbital with Meguiar’s Fine Cut, then finished with 2 coats of Menzerna FMJ.  Treated all rubber with original 1990s-era real BMW Gummi Pfledge.  There is nothing like that product and the results are spectacular.  Completely vacuumed the interior.  Cleaned leather with Swissvax cleaner and their special little brush.  Treated all leather with Spinneybeck leather conditioner.  Cleaned all glass with Stoner aerosol.  Applied Rain-X to all exterior glass.  Lots of work, but all of this adds up to a huge impact on the car and it’s worth every minute of effort.  I also replaced a lot of trim parts on the car, some of which you will see in the list below.

Roof rail with new gasket L, 51138411979, $80.32r
Roof rails with new gasket R, 51138411980, $80.32r
Clips for roof rails, 51138412636, need 6 per rail, $2.55r each
Clip for side door trim, 51471840960, need 8, $0.42r each
Clip door sill, 51478236385, need 14, $1.11r each
Plug, 51441854624, need 2, $0.66r each
Inner door sill extrusion, 51478399867, need 2, $29.90r each
Inner door sill clip, 51478399492, need 6, $0.89r each
S54 Curved M Badge Kit, LeatherZ, $54.00r
New front Roundel badge, 51148132375, $32.02r

Total price of this mod = $347.32r
Total investment in vehicle to date = $497.27
The trim gaskets (not shown) were cracked.  These are easy and cheap to replace.

Cleaned and waxed, still some stubborn cosmoline.
This is what is under the hatch spoiler.  There is a bead of sealer underneath doing very little.  Should be replaced with Sikaflex 255 FC or equivalent.
$3.60r each!  Need at least 6 for both sides.
Water spots and tarnish.
Simichrome Polish

Ready for reassembly
Best way to remove hood Roundel: 2 coats of blue tape, thin credit card under the badge, flat blade screwdriver.
Dirty body sealant
Clean seal after quick detailer and tooth brush
Clean body sealant, but leaking hatch strut.  Will be replaced
License plate harness had come unwrapped/disintegrated
Rewrapped with new friction tape.
Yep, that is a vintage Electrolux Silverado Deluxe vacc.  The horsehair brush it came with is ideal for detailing.

This is how the seats started.  Hard to tell with the flash but they were the typical "shiny".

This is what I use.  Swissvax leather cleaner and their brush is ideal for Nappa leather.  I use Spinneybeck for conditioning.  Apply it by hand and buff later with microfiber.


After.  Some overspray not yet removed if you look close.

This is the worst of the wear, but it improved greatly with cleaning.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This is awesome! Please continue to share all of your adventures with the coupe.

  3. This is awesome! Please continue to share all of your adventures with the coupe.