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McLaren P1 – Protection Detail

August 27th, 2014

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

In what’s going to become a regular slot here on our blog, I’ve prepared a short write-up about a rather special detail Clark performed in our studio a couple of months ago. The aim of this (and future) write-up(s) is to give you more insight into what goes on in our studio, and to share useful tips and tricks that will help you to improve your knowledge and skills. In this case, the car involved was only a few weeks old when it was delivered to us, but had already been to Belgium and back for a McLaren P1 owners event at Spa, so was covered in road grime, bug splatter and tar spots…

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

Because it belongs to a longstanding customer of ours, we’d known that the car would eventually be coming to us for a detail since the end of 2013 (when it was ordered), but come the big day we still found ourselves unprepared for seeing it for the first time. To quote Richard Meaden of evo magazine, “Simply put, there’s never been another car like it”. The P1 is unquestionably an overwhelming feat of design and engineering, and in Cerulean Blue it looks sublime too. Before I get stuck into a summary of the detail, here’s some staggering background information…

The McLaren P1 is the spiritual successor to the mighty McLaren F1. Being limited to 217 mph, it doesn’t have the top speed to topple its legendary forbear, but the P1 has been designed to be the best drivers’ car in the world, and in pretty much every other performance metric the P1 has moved the game on. A total of 903 bhp and 664 lb ft can be deployed, using a combination of the car’s mid-mounted twin-turbo 3.8-litre V8 engine and 131 kW electric motor. It’s aerodynamics are game changing, with clever use of airflow and an active rear wing combining to generate more than 600 kg of downforce at high speed, unheard of before on a road car. Headlining the specification table are a 2.8 second 0-62 mph time and an even more impressive 0-124 mph time of 6.8 seconds. To put things truly into perspective, the 16.5 second 0-186 mph sprint time is 5.5 seconds quicker than the F1. Unsurprisingly, production numbers were limited, to just 375 examples in total. However, these sold out within a month, despite the £866,000 price tag!

On with the detail then. Clark started out normally by tackling the wheels and arches first, using Auto Finesse Citrus Power and PB Luxury Spoke Back Woolies. The former is always a sensible choice of cleaner in situations like this, as it’s completely safe for use on high performance carbon ceramic brake discs, while the latter are extremely handy for tackling complex wheel designs and arches with limited access…

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

Once the wheels were free of grime any residual tar spots (and there were plenty!) were tackled with Auto Finesse Oblitarate

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

With the wheels done, Clark turned his attention to the rest of the exterior, and started out by soaking the lower halves with Auto Finesse Citrus Power. After allowing this to dwell for a few minutes he then foamed the car with Auto Finesse Avalanche and left this to dwell for a further five minutes before rinsing everything off. This pre-wash process always serves to remove the vast majority of dirt and grime in a completely touchless way, making the subsequent hand washing stage safer. However, before the hand wash, all of the trims and shuts were cleaned with Auto Finesse Citrus Power and PB Boar Hair Detail Brushes. The bodywork and glass was then washed by hand with GYEON Q2M BATHE and a Microfiber Madness Incredimitt. This took far longer than normal due to the complex shape of the car, with all of the open scoops and ducts adding to the overall surface area. After rinsing off, Auto Finesse Oblitarate was used to remove any residual tar spots, mostly from the lower halves. With the car being so new, few other contaminants were present, so all that was needed to complete the decontamination process was a little bit of light spot claying with Auto Finesse Clay. After a final rinse the car was then moved inside and the exterior was dried off touchlessly using our Metro Vac Air Force Blaster

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

Any seepage into the internal compartments of the carbon fibre tub was then mopped up with a PB Luxury Drying Towel

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

With the car now clean and dry, Clark was able to inspect the bodywork properly for any defects (while the car was only in for a Protection Detail, this is still something we always do on brand new cars, just to make sure everything is as it should be). The intense beam of our Clulite LED Spotlight revealed that the Cerulean Blue sections were in good shape, but unfortunately many of the carbon fibre sections were badly marred. Knowing that this would look awful in direct sunlight, Clark proceeded to lightly polish the affected panels with Menzerna Power Finish (203S) on a Lake Country Hydro-Tech Hand Polishing Pad

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

At this point Clark also noticed that the visible part of the engine bay needed some attention; the fixed glass cover was badly water spotted, and the carbon fibre shrouding was slightly marred too. After a helpful chat with Jason at Definitive Wax (who often works at the McLaren Production Centre), he carefully unbolted the glass cover and removed it from the car. This enabled him to polish and seal the carbon fibre and then fix the waterspotting on the glass, in both cases using Werkstat Prime Strong…

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

With the engine cover refitted, it was time to prepare the exterior bodywork for protection. Auto Finesse Rejuvenate was used to lightly cleanse all surfaces and remove some very light etchings on the horizontal panels, which were probably derived as a result of the car being parked under trees (when wet leaves fall on cars they often release organic acids that etch the paint)…

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

All of the bodywork was then protected with two coats of wax. Auto Finesse Desire was used first to lay down a durable basecoat, while Auto Finesse Illusion was then used on top to add insane levels of gloss. This combination is a firm favourite of ours, but was discovered purely by chance when we tested Illusion for the first time (in the absence of a suitable test car we applied it to Clark’s 996 GT3, which was already wearing Desire). In cases where a wax approach is preferred, it works brilliantly, producing a finish that is arguably greater than the sum of its parts…

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

Some sections of the bodywork on the P1 are fitted with paint protection film from new, which is a necessary evil given the extreme aerodynamics of the car. However, the edges of this type of film always fill up with wax, so it’s important to clean them (gently) immediately after waxing. A cocktail stick is ideal for this task, so long as you are extremely careful (the last thing you want to do is to mark the paint or lift the edge of the film)…

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

With the bodywork now finished, it was time for Clark to tackle the remaining exterior surfaces. All of the glass was treated with Nanolex Ultra Glass Sealant, which will not only greatly improve visibility at high speeds, but will also help to prevent waterspotting from forming on the engine cover…

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

The alloys were then sealed with Swissvax Autobahn, which is ideal for use on rims subject to extreme brake system temperatures, and the tyres were dressed with Swissvax Pneu, which gives a rich understated look…

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

With the exterior now finished (bar from a final wipe down and check over), Clark turned his attention to the interior, which in fairness was fairly clean to start with. All surfaces were dusted with either PB Boar Hair Detail Brushes or a rocket blower (we use the latter on delicate display screens, as they tend to mark very easily)…

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

All of the bare carbon fibre surfaces were wiped down with damp PB Super Buffing Towels, while the lacquered carbon fibre sills were polished and protected with Auto Finesse Tripple. Finally, the seats, carpets and mats were vacuumed, and the glass was cleaned with Auto Finesse Crystal. Upon checking the front luggage compartment, we discovered a severe amount of mould on all of the stowed accessory items (it later transpired that the car had been washed with the bonnet partially open at Spa, which allowed a significant amount of water ingress)…

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

I’m now going to own up to something of a secret; we’ve been trialling the use of steam in our studio for the last six months or so, with excellent results thus far. Therefore, rather than break out an all purpose cleaner and a scrubbing brush, we simply banished the mould using our Karcher steam cleaner. We’ll be writing more about the (safe) use of steam in the future, but as you can see below, it works rather well in certain situations…

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

With the detail now nearing completion, it was time for Clark to give the bodywork a final wipe down with Auto Finesse Finale and a Microfiber Madness Crazy Pile Towel, and then check everything over carefully with our Clulite LED Spotlight in readiness for the hand over…

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

McLaren P1 - Protection Detail

It’s fair to say that this was a really special day for Clark; we’ve come a long way over the last eight years, and it’s really rewarding for him to now be granted the opportunity to detail cars like this. As for the P1 itself… it’s in another league in terms of appearance and presence (it’s hard to actually imagine what it must be like to drive). We’ve detailed a lot of nice cars over the years, but the effect that the P1 has on you is spellbinding. Fingers crossed we’ll see it again at some point in the future, hopefully for a more involved detail. If we do, I may just have to make a video…

Rich @ PB

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14 Responses to “McLaren P1 – Protection Detail”

  1. Ryan Nelson says:

    What a car! Love the colour particularly and the finish achieved with Illusion/Desire. Great work as always.

  2. Marco says:

    Congratulations colleagues!!! What a great detail job you did to that P1. The paint finish you achieved is simply amazing. It must be a real pleasure to work on that exotic. Best regards from La Paz, Baja, México. Your friend, Marco Hurtado.

  3. Ralph Grinter says:

    Another amazing detail as usual from Polished Bliss, no other company comes close to you in terms of detailing. It’s a pleasure to be a customer of yours. Regards, Ralph Grinter.

  4. Andrew Gibson says:

    Fantastic machine, these are in a different class to everything else.

  5. David Panchal says:

    Tremendous job again. That car is incredible. Love Auto Finesse products too, do exactly what they should.

  6. Fionnán says:

    Saw this near Westhill a few weeks ago. Looked good, but now it looks absolutely insane. Another top job by PB.

  7. @Ryan, @Marco, @Ralph, @Andrew, @David, @Fionnán – We’re delighted that you enjoyed this post, and thanks very much for your kind words – they’re always much appreciated. Next up will be a Tesla write up!

  8. Chris says:

    Many thanks for your help with our Car Buyer’s Bible Rich! Really pleased we were able to work with you on this to showcase your expertise.

  9. @Chris – No worries, we’re always happy to share our knowledge.

  10. Martin says:

    Amazing job and loved the pics and write up!

  11. Mike says:

    Hey guys, I just got a new M4 with Carbon Ceramic Brakes. I am at a loss as to what products to use on the wheels considering the brake option. From this article I see that you are saying that Citrus Power is a safe bet to get on the carbon rotors without issue. I was wondering if any other wheel cleaners are safe for that braking system as well? Is the R222 gel safe on CCBs? Also, when using Citrus Power, do I need to avoid getting the chemical on the rotor itself? Thanks – your answers will be greatly appreciated. Mike.

  12. @Martin – Thank you!

    @Mike – The key thing with carbon ceramic brake components is to avoid using acid-based wheel cleaners on them (as such chemicals tend to degrade all carbon composites), although anything caustic at the other end of the pH scale is also worth avoiding too (Citrus Power is a non-caustic, despite it being a highly alkaline detergent-based cleaner). Other than Citrus Power, any good quality detergent-based wheel cleaners will suffice, and the R222 duo are right up there in terms of quality and performance. All of these detergent-based cleaners will do a great job on the limited amount of dust the brake system will produce (one of the key benefits of such systems from a detailing perspective!) and they won’t do any harm if they come into direct contact with the discs – just be sure to rinse everything off thoroughly once you’re done. To set your mind completely at rest, this advice comes not only from us having detailed cars fitted with such systems for many years now, but also from an owners viewpoint – Clark’s GT3 has ceramic composite brakes fitted, and Citrus Power has been his wheel cleaner of choice ever since he bought the car (back in late 2012).

  13. mike says:

    Thanks so much for the input – it’s been a great help!

  14. Richard says:

    Reading articles like this is how you should spend a Sunday evening, amazing and inspirational.

Comments are closed.