BMW Alpina D5 Enhancement Detail

Our client contacted us with a view to carrying out an Enhancement Detail on his newly acquired BMW Alpina D5. Just 2 years old, and based on the current F10 535d platform. Given the size of the car, and the nature of the paint defects, it was booked in for 2 days.

If you’ve never heard of Alpina before, they are a German company, actually registered as a car maker in their own right. For years, the Buchloe based firm has had very close ties to BMW, developing models offering increased performance over the one on which they are based. Subtly aggressive styling are complimented with chassis modifications that are more grand tourer than out and out sports car. As a result they are quite a connoisseur’s choice, very rare and a different appeal to someone who might otherwise buy BMW’s own M-car variant.

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Arriving at our Studio fresh from it’s maiden journey to the south of France, it’s fair to say it looked rather grubby. A thick layer of dust, tree sap and squashed bugs were spread around the car, the signature multi spoke wheels familiar to any Alpina owner, covered in brake dust.

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Out client had booked the car in primarily to get it to a good standard. He had observed a number of scratches around the car, and as is often the case, said it just looked rather flat. There was also a small patch of peeling lacquer on the front bumper, and asked if we could get that sorted whilst the car was with us.

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Extra attention was paid to softening all the bug remains on the forward facing areas of the car, before following our usual wash routine to get it nice and clean. Claying the car removed a huge amount of contaminants, leaving it ready for the machine polishing stage.

BMW paint can usually be expected to be very hard, and this car was no different. The defects in the paint represented several layers. The finest scratches, or marring, are hard to pick out individually, but are the biggest cause of the flat appearance of the paint. As light hits the panel, it is diffused and scattered in all directions. Slightly deeper are the swirl marks that you can see in direct light, looking like spiders webs on the paint. Finally, the deepest scratches, running further into the paint, often the result of a specific incident. That might be a brush against a hedge on a country lane, it could be grit dragged across the paint at a car wash. These are usually the easiest to see, even without a bright direct light source, but are the hardest and most time consuming to remove. Given that this was an Enhancement Detail, we’d concentrate mostly on the first two layers of scratches, addressing the worst marks where we could.

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Using the machine polisher with a reasonably aggressive approach, the paint started coming to life. In some places it needed 2 or 3 attempts to restore the finish we knew was achievable, but straight away the colour became richer and darker where it had been polished. This 50/50 above shows a stark contrast between the polished and unpolished area of the door.

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This process continued around the car, panel by panel, until all but the worst marks had been removed (as an estimate, probably 90% correction achieved).

On the second day, our SMART repairer came to address the peeling lacquer on the front bumper. This was chosen as a cost effective solution, significantly cheaper than respraying the entire front bumper at this time. Being a highly skilled individual, he repaired the area beautifully, with a flawless colour match, the paint blended seamlessly into the surrounding areas. Remember, not all SMART repairers are equal!

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The bumper repaired, and polishing finished, attention was turned to the wheels. Due to their design, removing them for cleaning made life much easier. Unfortunately, the insides were impossible to get completely clean thanks to a superficial repair to the wheel faces which had been carried out at some point, and clear lacquer had been blown over the unmasked insides. This is a shame, as the repair to the faces had actually been done very well. A significant amount of time was dedicated to removing the vast amount wheel weight glue still stuck inside. Sadly, no pictures were captured of this stage. Whilst off the car, the wheels were also sealed before being refitted.

Back on it’s wheels, the car was given a quick wash to remove the dust generated by the compounding stage, then a final wipedown with alcohol to remove any remaining traces of oils, wax or grease. This is an essential stage given that our client had chosen GTechniq C1, with a wax topper, as his protection of choice. With time of the essence, the GTechniq was carefully applied, followed by the wax (after a suitable curing period), the interior vacuumed and leather cleaned.

Taking a moment to appreciate the final finish, the car really had undergone a transformation, something our client repeated when we unveiled the car to him.

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