Since Iíve been living here in Florida, Iíve learned a great deal more about keeping a Fiero looking nice. Yes, this is the land of eternal summer. You might even think itís far easier to keep a car looking nice here than in Illinois, but you wouldnít be close to the truth.
While Illinois has that salt encrusting your car each winter, Florida presents other challenges equally daunting. For example, imagine a beautiful spring day. Youíve just washed and waxed your Fiero and you go in the house to grab something to drink, some more towels and the Armor All to put on your front mask. You go back out, 15 minutes has elapsed, and a bird has nailed your windshield. No problem, you spray the Windex, and wipe. Then you wipe. Spray again, wipe again. 15 minutes later, you finally have removed the waxy like substance. (I swear, if I find the exotic bird that does that, Iím going to go after it!)
That interesting bird remnant isnít by far the worst worry here. Itís the sun. Sure we have salt in the air (rust develops a little more slowly here than up north), but the sun is brutal. Donít have a good wax job on your car? Your paint could be faded within the year. This is where I learned the ďZenĒ. The ďSecretĒ, the way to give your Fiero that jaw dropping, factory new, unbelievable gloss and shine that makes the Porsche owner next to you gawk. Indeed, the local hand car wash, long jaded by every Ferrari and Lamborghini model (Ferrari sells more cars in Florida than in any country!) was taken aback by the finish on my Fiero. They give me unprecedented treatment, carefully cleaning every nook and cranny in the GTís wheels.
I came across this secret via a friend here who waxes Ferraris and Rolls Royceís. While I did use his $250.00 a small bottle of ďRolls RoyceĒ wax on my í86, Iíve found how to do it on my í88 far cheaper using Meguiarís products.
What youíll need: Buffer (hopefully not orbital, but standard circular), lots of clean, dry, terry cloth towels, wax application pads, wash bucket and wash mitt, garden hose, and a nice day with shade available (or garage). Now for the products: Meguiarís 00 Car Wash, Cleaning Clay, Fine Cut Cleaner 1, Fine Cut Cleaner 2, Show Car Glaze, Premium Paint Cleaner, Premium Paint Protectant and Final Inspection.
Step 1: Wash the Car
Squirt the 00 Car Wash into the bucket, fill with water. Rinse the car once completely with water. Then, hand scrub starting from the top of the car going down; roof first. Make sure to stop and rinse the section from the top, do not let the soap dry. Donít spray it either. Donít use a nozzle on the end on the hose. Instead, let the water flow naturally from the highest part of the car to the lowest, gently washing the contaminants away. When complete, go once more over the car with the water as a final rinse and then dry it from the top down; making sure to use at least 4 full size towels on the car. This washing procedure will be used later on, especially with the 00 wash. It is delicate on the paint and washes debris off without scratching. Hopefully, you can find a wonderful hand car wash like I have here, or the touchless car wash in Lisle, Illinois at 53 and Maple Avenue. The Final Inspection spray will serve in-between washings to remove those nasty little bird problems.
Step 2: Remove Contaminants
Start by spraying the Final Inspection on the car and rubbing the clay back and forth to remove contaminants. This will help clean up the paint without scratching the surface. From my experience, the clay works well, removes Illinois bugs so fast you wonít believe it. In fact, some jealous meanie used nail polish on my Momís Miata. Nothing; bug and tar remover, paint cleaner, even rubbing compound would not remove it. It took two passes of the clay; I kid you not.
Step 3: Remove Wax and Wet Sand
For this step, you need the Fine Cut Cleaners, your buffer, hopefully something to sit on (I use a Grasshopper bought from Frankís Nursery, has wheels and storage under the seat) and a VERY careful eye. The Fine Cut Cleaner has a couple of aspects. The best, it almost instantly removes all the built up wax that has been put on over those bug splotches. Another one is that as it dries it turns into a sanding ingredient. Yes, you will be ďwet sandingĒ your Fiero. This is where you must be careful. Too much and you can cut down your clear coat. Also, stay too long in one spot and your buffer creates swirl marks.
Carefully pour it on your buffing pad (you can get various versions, even one thatís for scrubbing), and run it over a small area. Do not run the buffer back over dry spots as the cleaner gets more course as it dries. Then, wipe off with a towel and buff. Look carefully, and see if you got the blemish out. If not, you can try again or go to the Fine Cut Cleaner #2. Also, I suggest redoing the clay in Step 2 here to see if that can remove it since the wax is removed. Donít put pressure on the buffer, as it will start removing paint. Itís very important you be careful on this step; Iíve seen people get their clear coat ground down (especially if they had someone do it rather than themselves). If a scratch is too deep, forget about it. Either touch it up or leave it.
Step 4: Base Wax Ė Soft Clean
Use your Premium Paint Cleaner to moisten the dry paint now exposed. This puts a base coat of wax over the paint and also cleans up any contaminants left. First apply using straight lines, no circular motion. You can use circular when removing the excess and buffing.
Step 5: Magic Time Ė Polish and Replenish the Paintís Oils
This is the step that wows you. Take your Show Car Glaze, poor it on your waxing pad and put on the freshly cleaned area with straight lines, do not circle. Make sure glaze has time to dry, then wipe off the excess with one clean towel, then buff with another. Youíll want to do this at least once, but twice brings the shine up very high. Next time you clean your car, instead of wax, youíll polish it like this.
Step 6: Lock in the Look
Now, take your Premium Paint Protection, apply it with a clean wax pad in straight lines as discussed earlier. This avoids producing any swirl marks from the wax having been applied circularly. Make sure the wax has time to dry, (you should never do these steps in direct sunlight) and it will take longer due to the buildup of wax and glaze youíve put on. Itís well worth it, as it nourishes the paint. This is your last step. After this, the car is golden.
Step 7: But Wait! You need pictures of your beautyÖ
This is a secret taught to me by my friends at Car and Driver Magazine. Taking a wonderful picture of your car is a matter of WHERE and WHEN more then HOW. There are only two times during the day to take a picture of your car; first is at dawn when the sun is just starting to rise, the other is dusk when itís setting. Anything in-between is a cheesy picture. You take your freshly cleaned Fiero at dusk, position it so that it has something to reflect in the new shine, and make sure the camera is pointing the same way the sun is towards your car. That means, the sun must be behind the camera pointing towards the Fiero at approximately the same angle the camera is. Snap some pictures. They will come out looking dynamite like the one I have included of my car.
Now, keep track of when you waxed your car. Youíll need to keep a regimen of polishing it in-between and then applying wax every 3 to 6 months or whatever looks right for your car and its use. Your car will look like wet nail polish, and stun everybody. Now donít give these tips to others you may face at a car show some day, especially the photo tip. But have fun, and keep those Fieros shining.