A quick, easy guide to detailing your car | Garage Rescue Miata

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David S.
Update by David S. Wallens to the Mazda Miata project car
Aug 11, 2021

Before we put our Miata back on the road, we made it presentable, removing the filth so that little kids wouldn’t scream.

But we knew it could look better.

Now was the time for that deeper clean. We got the interior looking good, but the paint still needed love.

When it comes to detailing a car, there are different levels of “clean.” At one end of the spectrum are the perfectly manicured classics displayed on the showfields of Pebble Beach and Amelia Island.

At the other end you'll find, well, most of our cars.

Fortunately, we know a guy who can help: Tim McNair at Grand Prix Concours. He regularly prepares cars for the top shows in the world, but he also knows us–and that we’re always after a big bang for our buck.

For the Miata, he recommended that we follow the same recipe he recently used on our Porsche 911 Carrera. In an afternoon or so, you can get a car looking really good–and the finish will go from scratchy to smooth.

You can dive deeper into this process on the Classic Motorsports page, but here’s the TL;DR:

  • Step 1: Go over the car with quick detail spray and a fluffy microfiber towel. We’ve been using Griot’s Garage Speed Shine. Remember to always work with the lines of the car.
  • Step 2: Run a clay bar lubricated with that same quick detail over the paint. Rubbing our hand over the finish revealed the difference, as scratchy paint gave way to the silence of a nearly glass-smooth finish.

  • Step 3: Buff the paint with Griot’s Correcting Cream; as with the Porsche, we fit a black pad on our buffer.

  • Step 4: Apply a finer polish–Griot’s Perfecting Cream–again on a black pad. Why Griot’s, by the way? Because it’s good enough for Tim and easy to find locally or online.
  • Step 5: Protect that rejuvenated finish with some wax: Griot’s Liquid Poly Wax. It goes on easily and just wipes off by hand–no muss, no fuss.

  • Step 6: Add another layer of protection, topping the wax with Griot’s Ceramic 3-In-1 Wax. This is a spray-on product that we've been using a lot lately, as it’s easy to apply and lasts a long time. Plus, it smells good.

[To dive deeper on this quick, easy detail process, read more over at Classic Motorsports.]

And that’s how we transformed our paint from rough and neglected to smooth and shiny. This process also removed all of the dirt embedded in the pebbled finish down by the rockers.

Another benefit of clean paint: less likelihood of scratching the finish when applying our magnetics.

The whole process didn’t take much specialized equipment or technique. We just needed some time in the garage.

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David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/11/21 2:39 p.m.

PS: That's original paint, too. smiley

300zxfreak Reader
8/17/21 7:56 a.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

I'm still using the method, used by Tim, of avoiding washing my Z with soap and water and using microfibers and spray detailer instead, much easier on the car and me. I still use some car wash soap and water if the car has become really grimy (rarely), but I love the detailer method, along with clay bar on occasion.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/27/21 10:48 a.m.

In reply to 300zxfreak :

Yeah, figure if his cleaning recipe is good enough for vintage Ferraris, it's good enough for our cars.

If a car is muddy or covered with gritty dirt, yeah, break out the bucket. But it's amazing what you can do with some fluffy microfiber towels and today's quick detailer products. (For a quick detailer comparison test, check out our test over on the Classic Motorsports site.)

bmw88rider GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
9/27/21 10:53 a.m.

Totally agree David. I only did 2 full car washes this year. Mostly because 500+ dead bugs on the car. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/27/21 2:49 p.m.

I have found this stuff to do a good job of removing (dead) bugs. 

bmw88rider GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
9/27/21 3:53 p.m.

Taking note of that now that I'm in the bug infested Midwest again. 


Found it. They actually rebranded it to Machinist Mate. Got a bottle on the way. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/28/21 1:20 p.m.

In reply to bmw88rider :

Cool, glad you found it. I admit, my bottle is old. It does seem to work at removing bugs, though. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/29/21 10:27 a.m.

My wife did a bit of highway driving this weekend, and last night I noticed all of the dead bugs. Yeah, that Splat Bug Remover does the trick: spray, give it a few seconds to work, and then wipe away with a microfiber. It seems to dissolve their little bodies. sad 

Then I went over everything with some quick detailers. 

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