How do you clean your car? Just pop in to the local fuel station? Hose and a sponge on a Saturday? Leave it to the guy in the shopping mall car park? How about dropping hundreds of dollars to get the car cleaner than it’s ever been before, and what’s more, protected at a microscopic level against dirt for months later? Because for a select handful of customers, that’s the service they get at a company in Dubai.[Not a valid template]
Select Nano combines ultra-technical car cleaning, detailing and protection to provide what its manager Frederik Faidhi calls a spa for your car. It’s the full weekend at a health resort compared to a quick rub of your face with a dirty flannel. The company used some the best cleaning, polishing and protection products from around the world, particularly those of the German nano protection company after which it’s named. It’s only for exotic, luxury and classic cars – if you’re the owner of something run-of-the-mill, forget it. Select Nano only prepared a maximum of six cars per month, so they’re very selective about what clients they accept.
As an indicator of what’s possible in the world of ultra-high-end car preparation, we’ll use our own Phil McGovern’s 1957 Volkwagen Beetle as an example, and look at how it was prepared for this year’s Emirates Classic Car Festival. The process of cleaning and preparing his car took almost two months.
STEP 1: CLEANING
“It took us more than 45 days to bring her to seriously pristine standard,” Frederik says, as he shows pictures of the process. Wide-eyed, I ask why on earth you’d spend that long cleaning a car instead of just taking it to a fuel station.
“Petrol stations use normal water, a shampoo derived from oil, the cheapest one,” Frederik explains. “They’re not going to invest in something good for your car, so it’ll do a lot of damage to the rubber, the tyres and so on.
“You have detailing centres that will maybe do six cars a day. We do a maximum of six cars a month. It takes on average per car five or six days. We have to decontaminate a vehicle before we inspect it. We do a touchless car wash without putting our fingers on it. We use chemicals derived from vegetation, made by companies that specialise in such products.
“We treat cars the way that women would treat their skin. No chemicals, always looking for alternatives; we maintain your car in the same way.”
Although Phil keeps his car clean, it’s not what Frederick would call clean. In fact, he calls it contaminated.
“It’s been washed by Tom, Dick and Harry, by soap derived from oil, which attracts dust. Water has minerals, acids and even sand here, so if water evaporates, where does all that go? It remains on the car, on the glass, on the seats. People take care of their cars, but it’s the elements around that contaminate the car. It’s contaminated by life.
“So, we did a touchless car wash by applying a very sensitive chemical that only interacts with the dirt, and then jet it down using high pressure. In the past people would use clay bars, but we’ve further developed that concept. I can’t tell you much more about it, as only we have it, but it removes everything on the surface of the car, to reveal all the mistakes.”
By mistakes, he means any problems that require attention, whether in the paint, the chrome or elsewhere – the kind of thing that a judge at a concours competition would notice and dock points for.
Inside, different products are used to clean the Volkswagen like it’s never been cleaned before. Phil may have thought it clean when it came to Select Nano, but after a few days of treatment, the photos suggest otherwise.
STEP 2: PHOTOGRAPHY
To make sure all the imperfections have been spotted, and to show the client, Frederik and his team take hundreds of shots of the car – in fact, the very ones you see here. Different lighting, angles and so on show any swirls in the paint, anything than needs to be addressed. Only then can they form a plan to deal with everything.
STEP 3: REFURBISH
Some of the refurbishment may require replacing a cracked headlamp, as in this case, but the majority of the refurbishment involves polishing.
“All the chrome parts, the lights and so on are covered with tape so that when it’s polished the machine will not do any damage,” Frederik says. “For difficult-to-reach places we use a drill with a cone in three different textures that polishes and removes behind and under different parts, using fine cutting compounds.
“Overall we use approximately 22 layers of cutting compound through to protection. We use an orbital machine to polish the main bodywork with different grades of polish, progressively finer compounds to bring out the best in the paint. Sometimes we leave the product overnight.”
No part of the car escapes the clean – under the wheel arches road debris is removed and marks from the tyres against the bodywork cleaned away.
“All this has to be cleaned, all the housing of the brakes and suspension, the skirting all the way underneath the car. All this is completely cleaned; nuts, screws, bolts, everything. And then protected.
STEP 4: PROTECT
It’s all very well the car being clean and polished. But Select Nano’s key aim is to keep it that way for as long as possible. The company from which the Dubai operation takes its name specialises in nanotechnology that renders surfaces impervious to further contamination. If you’ve ever used Rain-X on your windscreen, or seen the videos online where treated clothes have chocolate sauce sprayed on them, only for the goop to harmlessly run off, then you’ll know the kind of product. Once treated, rain, dust, dirt and sand won’t stay on the car, meaning it keeps it newly restored lustre. All parts are treated, and Frederik offers a two-year warranty on the work he undertakes, with seven free car washes included in the price to keep it topped up.
“We will find dirt. We will eliminate it. And then we will try to make sure that it doesn’t occur again,” he explains. “But it has to be maintained.”
With Phil’s Beetle, everything went to plan. The car won top honours at the show, and both owner and cleaner left with a smile on their face. After 45 days of work, it’s just as well.
– Our thanks to Frederik Faidhi and Select Nano UAE