The “clay bar” is a tool among an automobile-detailer’s paraphernalia generally reserved for those with an “above average” commitment to their vehicle’s presentation.
I hadn’t even heard of one until I Googled “removal of paint overspray from auto parts”.
Short story long- I purchased my Acura with a badly pockmarked front bumper, purely a result of having traveled over 150,000 high-speed miles, and an auto dealer with which I have a good personal relationship offered to respray it in factory silver for the price of “on the house”.
When I got the car back there was minor overspray on the engine bay’s soundproofing trim and, most tragically, on my beautiful HID headlamps.
But due to my friend having done several hundred dollars worth of work gratis, I really wasn’t in a position to complain about his execution.
At any rate, the issue had pestered me for months until I finally got around to rectifying it this evening. According to various forums a clay bar was an excellent tool for the job removing overspray from car parts, including headlights. And conveniently they were available at a standard AutoZone-type basic car parts place. I say “basic” because if you’re like me and you almost exclusively involve yourself with old, foreign, and generally obscure vehicles , you don’t get much satisfaction when you “Get In The ‘Zone” as their marketing would have you believe.
But I digress.
Tonight I got the clay bar, read the instructions, and executed as described. Headlights only, since I had other tasks occupying my time for the evening and wasn’t yet convinced a bar of clay was going to have a satisfactory effect in removing pneumatically sprayed paint.
But how wrong I was to have doubted the power of the clay bar.
The bar, resembling a slightly flaccid cake of body soap, managed to almost completely remove the overspray as well as hundreds of miles of road grime. As a bonus, the application process was simple;
“Spray the liquid ‘Quik Detailer’ onto surface desired to be cleaned. Knead clay bar into a disc and rub on lubricated surface. Re-knead as needed when it gets all nasty. Wipe clean with microfiber towel.”
I purchased a kit from Meguiar’s described as simply “Smooth Surface Clay Kit” on the box. All required pieces were included, along with “’60% MORE CLAY!” as proudly declared in gleaming letters on the box. 60% more than what, I couldn’t tell you… you could tell the marketing message was geared toward the limp bizkit, Mountain Dew side of your brain. Oh yes, don’t try and deny you’ve got one of those.
Regardless of what street cred the box may or may not have had, I performed the afore mentioned actions and was extremely pleased with the result.
See below for “clayed” and “nonclayed” photos of the starboard and port side headlights, respectively.
I think the difference is astonishing. The “cloudiness” look that had vexed me is all but eliminated. But I’d be curious to hear what other OCD detailers and also those with a less “discerning” eye see when they compare these two photos.
I’m going to leave one done and the other undone so I can see if the difference is more, less, or as dramatic in the daylight.
Ah, another day soaking up the oppressive ambiance of a used car liquidation facility.
The edifice that is the Massachusetts Correctional Institution for female offenders looms behind an ominous blockade of barbed wire and steel.
Crammed in the middle is this week’s batch of offerings at ADESA Boston‘s weekly used car auction. This looks like a crop from General Motors just coming off-lease.
On Friday, like every Friday, these gates will open for Boston-area auto dealers to pick over cars and play the time-honored game of “Saints and Scumbags” as they navigate the tumultuous social waters of used car negotiations.
Few adore their means of conveyance the way I do.
Most people don’t lovingly detail their car’s interior every week, powerwash road salt off their undercarriage all winter, or require maintenance only be completed by themselves or overpriced brand-specific specialists.
That’s because while I treat my cars, trucks, and motorcycles like pets, others chose to treat them like appliances. Even a step further; appliances they hate.
I offer an anonymous “local mom” as an example… and I bet yours is pretty similar; She fastidiously maintains her wardrobe, expresses substantial annoyance when people track mud into her house, and is generally proactive at maintaining her belongings.
But with her car, it’s a completely different story. This mum allows the carpet and surfaces to become absolutely filthy. Shrugs off minor exterior damage. And definitely has no idea what a ”service interval” is.
She glares at her gauges with contempt when they display a warning as simple as “service required” or “low tire pressure”.
Or my personal favorite; “that weird green light in the shape of a skateboard on a train track” -which is an actual quote from someone describing the “Cruise Control” light of a late 90′s Land Rover. To be fair, that light is pretty unintuitive to someone who’s never been on a highway in the UK.
And I don’t mean to be sexist by calling out a mom here, because plenty of dads and dudes are guilty of this as well.
But I digress…
My point being I never understood why perfectly intelligent people treated their cars, often one of the biggest financial commitments in their life, like disposable toys.
That is, until I had to borrow somebody’s 2008 Toyota Camry LE.
How’d I end up in what sounds like a very mild-mannered motorcar you might ask?
It’s pretty standard, really; I crashed my beloved UA6 into my house the other week (don’t worry about it) so I had to leave it somewhere for a minor respray. While getting routine service at Acura of Boston, I asked for a damage appraisal- they wanted $1,000 to set my car back to beautiful.
After I finished crying, I grabbed another two cups of free waiting-room coffee and hauled ass to one of the local car dealers I have a professional relationship with.
He “knew a guy”, obviously, and said I could borrow something out of his inventory while my car was being “meticulously” resprayed by “qualified professionals” behind a tarp in some Metro North back yard. I was a little wary of those quotation marks… but when I was told the price would be “on the house” I threw caution to the wind and figured it couldn’t possibly come back looking worse.
When the time came to grab a loaner, my eyes gravitated toward a 2004 Escalade- in gleaming white with a chrome nosejob and 22′s. Would you be surprised to learn it had found its way onto that lot after being repossessed for the second time?
I wasn’t too keen to imagine the fuel bill on that monster… but I did rather like the idea of throwing a J. Crew sweater over my shoulders and driving it to see my lady in Brooklyn where I could finally realize my #HipsterDreams and be the most ironic person on her block.
But when my associate returned from his office, he had the key to his “regular loaner”; the 08 Camry I described above.
Well, I didn’t really describe it. That’s because there’s not much to describe… exactly why I didn’t like it, and why I now completely understand the general apathy toward autos of the non-car-enthusiast public.
Some people just haven’t driven proper cars!
Cars need personality. Feeling. Characteristics that make you love and hate them. The Camry had none of these.
From the outside, fine, it’s a forgettable design but it’s tidy enough. Inside, it’s beige and baby blue.
Beige. And baby blue. Two colors scientifically proven to make you feel like
a real winner you’re trapped in a dentist office waiting room.
The seats didn’t do much to improve my general outlook on life either. The squishy unpatterned-cloth reminded me of the couch my buddy Jeff used to have in his basement. That analogy applies to both the styling and ability to absorb a human at an alarming rate.
Unlike said couch, at least the Camry didn’t reek of mold and grease from from pizza and bicycles. Ah, childhood.
To the Camry’s further credit, it also started in a timely manner, even propelled itself forward with the transmission in “D” and throttle pedal applied. But driving the car… no, that didn’t even happen. ”Moving” the car would be a more accurate description of the vehicle’s road manners.
Commanding the Camry was like curling. Not pumping iron, I mean that Canadian olympic game everyone loves to love.
You rapidly jiggle your arms and hope you’re able to direct the vehicle where you want it to go. The car then responds with alacrity of an octogenarian and the nimbleness of an ice floe.
Edmunds.com called it “pleasant to drive“. No way. It’s a chore.
If this was the only experience I had ever had with cars, I wouldn’t like them at all. I’d get grumpy and not understand why they demanded more money from me every three-to-five thousand miles. I definitely wouldn’t be writing this blog.
Maybe I’d be traveling the world in search of the coolest laundromats to wash my black t-shirts in.
Is this an editorialized review? Yah. If you can call it a review, call it a review of an experience rather than an automobile. If you want to compare this car’s fuel consumption/safety rating against the others in it’s class go elsewhere. If you’re ready to take the plunge and join the ranks of the road rovers and petrosexuals, get behind the wheel of something else.
Something with character. With personality. What the French call a certain… I don’t know what.
Find it and trust me- you’ll never go back to driving that rolling dentist’s office.
Found this gem parked outside of the ADESA Auto Auction in Framingham, MA.
It caught my eye from across the parking lot because, I mean, come on.
At first I thought it was the failed abortion of a GM concept (the Monte Carlo taillights) or maybe it was “bring your kid to work day” at the design studio and somebody hit “send” instead of “save” on this beauty.
But closer inspection revealed that this could not possibly have come from anywhere that was anything more advanced than what we in the industry call a “shade-tree” mechanic.
I’d venture a guess that this vehicle was literally constructed under a tree. And probably in the dark.
Remember that Simpsons episode where Homer works for a car company and builds a one-off called “The Homer”?
I mean, right?
Aside from the taillights the only thing that’s really identifiable are the wheels. They look a little early-911 to me, but I imagine they’re from something far less prestigious. What chassis, suspension and driveline setup this wildman is running is anybody’s guess. As badly as I wanted to meet the creator of this creature it was about 105 degrees outside and sadly I had to prioritize a Dunkin Donuts run.
Okay, as tempting as it is to just shit on this thing with its bumpy hand-fiberglassed body panels, mismatched gauge faces and what I’m pretty sure is hand-rolled paintjob, let’s take a step back and think about what this guy’s done.
He had an idea for his own car design, and he fucking went for it. Sure it probably didn’t come out as sleek as he had imagined, but if I had attempted this I guarantee it would look ten times worse. Fiberglass is really hard to work with, and custom-making an interior is no cakewalk either, even if it is rudimentary.
As goofy as it looks we can’t discount what he has accomplished- the body fits (pretty much), and presumably the car works. I mean, it was wearing license plates and sitting in a day-use parking lot. So hey, he’s not going to win a Concourse show anytime soon but for all intents and purposes; “Mission Accomplished” and bravo for giving a pretty insane project the old college try.
That said, the idiot who approved this car for an inspection sticker I’d like to have a few words with.
Well, not everyday. Can’t sit in front of the computer that long. But RoadRoving.com has officially spilled into the world of Tumblr and is making a habit of aggregating great images I didn’t create but reckon you’d enjoy over there.
Sticking primarily to artistic photos of vintage cars and motorcycles for now, but you might catch the occasional supercar or Suicide Girl if you visit often enough…
Give us a look at
In a rare stroke of luck I managed to wash up in Los Angeles on opening day of one of the nation’s biggest auto shows. Perfect excuse to put off looking for a job another day.
My oldest friend lives in town, and he was kind enough to scoop me up from LAX in his fresh RX-8. We headed to the convention center via Señor Fish… where I got the most righteous Mexican food I’d had since my last visit to tinsel town fourteen months ago.
Coming from Far North Queensland and Cape York just over a week prior, the Shock & Awe factor of L.A. freeways was nothing short of overwhelming. I had forgotten just how nuts the traffic was here- and I’m not just talking about the volume of vehicles.
I looked around at the first stoplight we came to and realized we were surrounded by half a million bucks worth of motorcars. Continental GT to the left, AMG Black to the right, and the entrancing HIDs of a Rolls Royce Phantom burning a hole in our rear-view mirror. A few blocks down the street we passed a Fisker Karma shored up at some brunch place… I didn’t even think that car was real!
We hit LA LIVE late-afternoon and started taking in the show with the Tuner section downstairs. I could tell I had been in the bush for awhile when I realized how many vehicles I didn’t recognize, and how much the tuner scene has changed since the last car show I’d been to (Geneva ’09).
The late-nineties Japanese imports I’m used to seeing have long fallen by the wayside in favor of ultra high-end European exotics. Not just 458 Italias and Murciélagos… even a Bugatti Veyron and the new Lamborghini Aventador had been sprayed and tweaked by local skunkworks.
But upstairs in the main hall, the Manufacturers’ displays were just a little less awesome.
Lexus had their unicornian LFA sports car on a turntable, and BMW was toting a pair of glow-in-the-dark Tron cars. But other than that, the main floor was largely devoid of the world’s truly unique automotive offerings that I had been hoping to see.
I can’t get that excited about a face-lifted Camry or economy-trim Civic. Even the new Mercedes SLS, easily one of the sexiest current production cars on Earth, didn’t blow me away- but only because I had seen three on the street between the airport and the convention center.
Where were the Spykers? Moslers? Gumperts? Even Tesla was noticeably absent. I come to car shows to see the wacky shit you can’t see on the street anywhere, no matter how many rich people live there… and am disappointed to report that most of the coolest stuff at LAAS this year could have easily been in the parking lot.
My friend speculated hard times had hit these independents. Perhaps true, but if so I think these small shops are losing out in the long run by skipping the show. Mega-marquees like like Toyota will never have a problem getting the word out about a new sedan; it’s a well-known brand selling a mass-appeal product.
But companies like Weismann, Noble, and other great automakers you’ve never heard of rely on buzz and interest generated by having a presence at shows like this to make names for themselves. After all, their target audience; the automotive press and hardcore enthusiasts, are pretty much the only people at such events.
Three badges that did make use of the soapbox were Land Rover, Subaru and surprisingly- Kia. Rover has a concept off-roader they’re calling the DC100, and they flossed a pair at LAAS complete with pastel-colored paint and, TV screens and a Barbie-house interior.
I hate to admit I’ve been loosing faith in Land Rover as their offerings get softer and softer… And these two over-sized PowerWheels cars aren’t helping their case. The Range Rover and RR Sport are getting glitzier themselves, seems like they drop another centimeter with every revision since the Classic. At least the Defender is still with us, for now.
Subaru, on the other hand, came up huge with the world debut of the BRZ sports coupe. They’ve teamed up with Toyota to collaborate on engine and suspension technology to build an entirely new car.
The BRZ caught my eye from across the room and nabbed my attention like a hot chick walking into Stats class. That signature STI blue on such a sexy shape was a beacon of hope parked between some Hyundais and a weird art fixture made of Mini Coopers.
Since this is a concept, I was told I wouldn’t be allowed to test-drive it. The real version, which the Subaru rep told me I wouldn’t be allowed to drive either, will be revealed at the end of the month at the Tokyo Auto Show.
It’s being released in conjunction with the Toyota-branded version; the Scion FR-S, and I have to say I’m joining import enthusiasts everywhere in being very pleased at this news.
As a Scion you can bet the FR-S will be reasonably priced, as a Toyota/Subaru you know it will be reliable, it’s sexy as hell and best of all- it’s rear wheel drive.
The birth of a car like this gives us hope that economy-centered automakers are still capable of building something exciting.
Unfortunately for me, they will probably hold their value well enough to stay expensive for awhile. Guess I’ll just have to hang around an L.A. Scion Dealer and try to con my way into a test drive after Thanksgiving.
But Kia might have pulled the biggest coup of the event by showing up with a spectacularly svelte sedan rocking a 395 horsepower noisemaker and rear-wheel-drive eight-speed automatic transmission.
Will we see this car on Kia showrooms next year? Probably not… while the company is planning on moving forward with development, an LA Times interview with Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer seemed to hint that the strategy surrounding the GT was more to boost the company’s image than to build a mass-production model. Vehicles like this, referred to as “halo cars”, revel in long stages of concept development since the car’s working nearly as hard for a brand’s image as a concept as it would an available model.
In any case, do a double-take next time you see and Aston Martin Rapide… it just might be the Korean doppelganger.
Photos provided by LA Auto Show.
Thanks to the generosity of Tesla Motors, I’m excited to say we had a chance to shakedown the new Roadster Sport 2.5 this week.
Boston traffic hindered us from performing a “proper” test, but we still got a decent impression of the car’s behavior and usage, which is a unique experience indeed.
The absence of a gear lever was a bit unnerving and the fixed-gear like operation of the throttle took some getting used to, but the car proved very exciting in the short time we had it.
As this is the “2.5″ version of the Roadster, some of the problems Jeremy Clarkson noted in his test several years ago have been dealt with. The car’s now much more reliable, a bit quicker on the charge, and has what I’d call a much prettier gauge module.
Of course it’s not perfect; things like tiny gaps between carpeting remind you that this is a “boutique” car, and the driving experience is so Mario Kart-esque you’re liable to start hucking turtle shells to make other motorists get out ‘the way.
But you’ll be willing to do whatever it takes to get a clear lane in this car. While the top speed is a punky 120something, the Tesla can blast from 0-60 in 3.7 seconds.
And since all you have to do is mash the pedal, even my grandmother could send a Ferrari F430 home crying… at least right up to the speed limit.
The cabin is snug to be sure, members of the Wal-Mart nation might want to allow some extra time for getting into the seat. But if you’re a “one-with-the-machine” kind of driver, you should find yourself right at home.
We had the opportunity to record some of our escapades in the car, and despite limited technological means it turned out alright. Click here to see our driving impressions or watch the video below.
As you probably imagine, RoadRoving.com gets inundated with letters from modeling agencies and automakers begging us to let them participate in one of our famous fotoshoots.
So to throw them a bone, I’ll put some teasers out there for you Road Rovers to enjoy.
If you ever want to track these images down later, check them out in the “Wallpapers” page from now on.
Click on a picture to enlarge (your penis). Enjoy: