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Vintage Valeting – The Correct Approach to Classic Car Cleaning

30th June, 2017

Vintage Valeting – The Correct Approach to Classic Car Cleaning

With the automotive industry reaching record-breaking heights in recent years, the classic car market is thriving. The percentage of classic car auction lots that consistently meet their reserve price has remained consistently high in the past five years, peaking in 2014-15 at 78%. All signs show that car buyers in the UK are passionate about vintage vehicles, and specialist dealerships and auctions are reaping the benefits.

However, when valeting this valuable stock, it is important not to use a system that is stuck in the past. There is no denying the vast difference between classic cars of the 1960s and 1970s with today’s modern machines. No, we’re not going to dive into the debate over which one is “better”, bringing up the timeless beauty of yesteryear’s cars or the undeniable safety benefits of today. Our focus is strictly on valeting, which is where the different materials used in the past, from low-carbon steel and cellulose paint, should impact the approach a professional valeting team takes towards the vehicle.

At NCC, our team deliver a comprehensive valeting service for dealerships and motor vehicle traders across the country, regardless of the model, size or age of their stock. However, that doesn’t mean there is a one-size-fits-all approach that we follow for every business we work with or vehicle we work on. You’re certainly not going to take it to an automated car wash for this important task! Classic cars demand a different kind of clean, from the products used to the techniques you apply. For example, using cleaning products that are too harsh or acidic could damage the bodywork and paint of an older car far more than a modern vehicle, which in turn will reflect badly on the value of the vehicle.

Price is all-important in the classic car market. With vintage models fetching significant sums at both specialist showrooms and auctions, the appearance and condition of the vehicle needs to be exceptional. Any discrepancies, even minor scratches and scuffs, could take thousands of pounds off their value, which is why choosing a valeting service that takes into account the age and make of your stock is essential in guaranteeing both a quality clean and preserving its true market value.

How you know your valeting service is vintage

Above all else, your car valeting service should prioritise the condition of your classic stock. Their choice of equipment should reflect this. The use of abrasive car cleaning supplies could result in damages that will cause significant damage to the vehicle’s price tag. For instance, our choice of Autoglym cleaning products here at NCC cover every part of a car with shampoo, polish, wax and more that is not only delivers a high standard shine, but is importantly pH neutral to protect a classic car’s condition. With the right tools, you’re off to a good start in your pursuit of a reliable valeting service. 

On top of this though is the attitude of the valeters you set to the task. Classic car owners and those that love to restore vintage vehicles often treat them as part of their family – they are not simply a machine, but carry historic and sentimental value. Therefore, when valeting older cars, attention to detail should be second to none. Classic car dealers and auctioneers should take great care to ensure their team applies the same care and devotion to these vehicles as their eventual owners will have.

Now onto the actual cleaning process, and there is one important element that can prove particularly damaging to classic cars: rust. Rust is something that can hurt any car if ineffective cleaning techniques are applied, but due to the older, lower quality metal in classic vehicles, it becomes an even greater threat. Therefore, it is essential to meticulously clean the car top to bottom, paying a great deal of attention to the underside so no water is trapped by dirt. The drying process is also key in preventing rust and unappealing water marks on the bodywork. Gently applying soft chamois leather or a microfiber cloth until it is bone dry will be sufficient, minimising any risk of rust and protecting against scratches and scrapes.

Finally, it is important a valeting service does not make silly mistakes that can ruin any car clean, but is heightened by the impact this can have on the value of a classic car compared to current models. Hot weather heightens the risk of soap bubbles drying on windows and paintwork, which will be easily noticeable by classic car aficionados. Furthermore, it is important not to neglect the interiors and treat these areas with the same attentiveness. Trim and upholstery made with old-fashioned leathers and woods should be treated with good-quality shampoo and oils that help restore them to their factory fresh condition. With many owners keen to display their magnificent veteran machines at shows, this focus on the details will be key to securing a sale from selective buyers. 

We hope this brief introduction to classic car valeting gives motor trade dealers an insight into finding the correct package. Our professional team at NCC take a comprehensive approach to this, partnering with your business to deliver proactive and high quality valeting services that fit into your company’s structure. Whether your dealership specialises in classic vehicles, the latest models or used cars, our trained valeters guarantee a professional, efficient service.

You can get in touch with us to discuss your valeting needs by phone on 01268 565050 or by email at