As car care specialists, and providers of a tailored service, we are always looking to address the issues most important to a client. In this instance, the owner of this lovely 1991 Porsche 911 Targa was interested in a general improvement for the car, with particular attention being paid to the underside and arches. Along with this, the leather seats were rather tired and discoloured, and letting the interior down badly. After seeing some photographs, the owner was assured that this could be rectified without the need for any expensive retrimming.
This Porsche is a work in progress. Since acquiring it, the owner has had the engine fully rebuilt, along with the suspension. Next up will be the braking system, and eventually the car will receive a full respray. For now, following a variety of recent adventures that had seen the car driven through the miserable winter weather, as well as across a field, a big priority was to get the wheel arches and underside cleaned and protected from corrosion.
First up was the messy task of thoroughly cleaning the wheel arches and underside. The car was jacked up and secured on axle stands for the wheels to be removed, then a strong degreasing agent applied liberally throughout. Whilst the wheels were off, the badly stained inner part of the rims were treated with a ferrous particle fall out remover. The pictures show the vast amount of grime being dissolved by the cleaner, but even then it wasn’t possible to remove all the staining.
A number of hours went into this job, each arch being systematically soaked with detergent, rinsed, soaked again then agitated to make sure there was no mud or salt hiding in corners that could eventually lead to corrosion setting in.
With the dirt gone from underneath, the wheels were refitted for the rest of the car to be washed before taking it inside and putting the Porsche on the ramp. The wheels were removed again and high pressure air used to dry the arches carefully. The bottom of the car is actually quite flat, and it too was cleaned and dried front to back. Finally, Bilt Hamber Dynax UC was applied to the arches, suspension components, inner wings and underside. This is a clear drying, anti-corrosion wax that will help to protect from corrosion and more importantly, stop existing corrosion from going any further.
With the mucky job done, it was time to continue with the paintwork enhancement. As mentioned, this car will be receiving a full respray in due course. During it’s 24 years it has had a number of panels repaired, some not particularly well. The bonnet for example looked like it had been sprayed with a rattle can. The owner was very realistic about this, but every effort was made to give this classic 911 a new look.
Whilst the outside of the car was being worked on, our leather expert arrived to work his magic on the front seats. With both showing signs of discolouration, the driver’s seat was looking particularly sorry for itself with cracks in the bolsters on the base and backrest. The seats were carefully removed from the car to make them easier to work on.
To get started the leather was given a very thorough clean and degreasing. The bolsters in particular felt stiff and unwieldy, and were horribly shiny. He commented that this wasn’t just normal wear, and invited us to watch as he wiped over the cracked bolster with a solvent. Straight away, thick layers of dye started to come off the bolster, revealing a different colour underneath.
His very detailed knowledge of interiors had already led him to say the seats were from a later model car, so it wasn’t a huge surprise to find out they had be recoloured, or reconnollised, in the past. But this is where people often have a bad experience of refurbished leather. Whomever did this has made two mistakes. Firstly, it’s likely that they have used an inferior quality pigment to actually do the reconnollising. This usually means it has a lower solid pigment content, therefore needs more product to achieve a good even coverage, particularly when trying to cover a darker colour. Secondly, the cracks visible were not the leather surface itself cracking, but rather the thickly laid pigment.
It looked like instead of trying to work with the natural patina of the leather, the person who carried out the job tried to ‘fill’ the creases in the material with pigment to make it smooth, resulting in this horrid hard finish that has cracked under flexing. Once all the horrid old pigment had been successfully removed, he went about preparing the bare leather surface and properly applying a new colour layer to create the correct ‘Linen’ finish. Before refitting the seats, the handbrake cover was reconnollised, as it too was looking a little worse for wear.
This is a great example of how there is a lot more to leather refurbishment than you might think. We have had people say that reconnollised leather will leave dye transfer on clothes (it shouldn’t), that it will fail again quickly (it shouldn’t), and that the seats will have a shiny, plastic appearance afterwards (they shouldn’t). All of these issues are possible, but it’s quite simply because the job hasn’t been done properly. In the same way a good bodyshop will repair a painted car panel to look identical to it’s factory appearance and behaviour, we can do the same for leather. Accept nothing less.
By now the Porsche exterior was looking great. Not perfect by any means, but years of harsh washing had left it utterly flat and devoid of gloss, but now it had a deep, rich lustre, topped off by the addition of Swissvax Best of Show wax. Upon collection our client was delighted, and sent a lovely text once he was home in London to say how much he’d enjoyed the drive home. This is what our service is all about, delivering results beyond expectation.