How to Display Your Ride at a Car Show

Car shows can be an exciting way for enthusiasts to meet up and show off the best in their vehicles, but for first time participators, it can be difficult to determine how to get started. By following some of these simple tips, anybody can be well on their way to winning their next car show!

Taking Care of the Bodywork

Classic Car Body WorkThe preparation process always begins with the vehicle’s body. If the car has any dents or if it is missing vital components in its interior and exterior, it will not earn the points that it deserves. Auto shows are all about presenting the best of the vehicle, which means that owners should be prepared to showcase their car in its prime. Drivers should always take their vehicle to a body shop and consult with the professionals on how they can get the most out of their build.

Once the necessary components have been repaired and replaced, owners will need to move on to making surface modifications. Here, it can be simple to sand down the areas where there were dents and make other small improvements around the chassis. Drivers will need the surface of the car to be as smooth as possible so that the primer and paint can adhere well. It is never a bad idea to invest in a total paint job as well, especially if the car had suffered from damage before.

Choosing the paint job for the vehicle should be based on what type of presentation the driver is going for. It is recommended for all drivers to look at some car design websites and magazines to think about how they can make the natural fixtures of their vehicles pop to life. Some aspects to think about include the grille of the vehicle, the feeling drivers get when they look at it, the way the car was marketed and its era of creation. All of these considerations can come together in an eye-catching design.

Thoroughly Cleaning the Exterior

Classic Car EngineOnce the car’s build is optimized, it will be time to move on to a proper cleaning. This is where enthusiasts will have the chance to get as thorough as they can. While some may be tempted to just take their vehicle through a car wash and call it a day, they will not be earning any extra points from the judges. Cars entered into auto shows need to look better than they did the day they were made, and that simply cannot be achieved without paying particular attention to the details.

Drivers should begin with the rims and the engine compartment first as these are the sections likeliest to develop chemical stains and residue smudges. From there, they can move on to the undercarriage of the vehicle and polish those components. Once these sections have been taken care of, drivers can move on to the surface areas, cleaning as necessary. It is important not to ignore the wheels as well. While special preparations for the wheels can be made later, owners can perform a rudimentary cleaning to complete the picture and see where they will need to work on next.

There is no such thing as being too thorough or taking too long during this process. Before getting started, it is vital for all owners to invest in products that are designed specifically for use around the vehicle. Drivers should never use things like kitchen soap for their car’s exterior. The right products will guarantee that the car dazzles the judges when it is wheeled in.

Interior Cleaning and Considerations

Classic Car InteriorOnce the exterior of the vehicle has been taken care of, drivers should move on to the interior of the vehicle. The interior should be just as immaculate as the exterior as judges will be looking at the vehicle from every possible angle. Drivers should work from the top to the bottom and from the front to the back. The windows should be crystal clear from both sides of the vehicle, and afterward, owners should move on to check their radio, gauges, clock, ashtray, assembly, steering wheel and mirrors. All of these sections should be absolutely spotless, and if any blemishes or burn marks exist, it is crucial to have the surface cleaned or replaced.

Sun visors are notorious for costing drivers points in the show, so it is critical to make sure that this section is spotless before continuing. It never hurts to have a few older parts replaced before the show as well. Once all of the technical details have been taken care of, drivers can move on to their carpeting and floor mats. This is another troublesome area that should be handled with care. The seats should be moved in all possible directions to get at their undersides. Drivers should shampoo every last detail of their vehicle to make their interior look and smell great. The seats and seat belts should be inspected for cleanliness and functionality as well. Finally, drivers should take care of the hatch, trunk and door areas of their vehicle. Every last crevice of these spots should be buffed to a shine to impress the judges.

Preparing the Wheels

Cleaning TiresOnce the driver has handled the larger areas of the vehicle and is close to finishing up, they can pay special attention to the wheels. A large part of proper presentation is making sure that the vehicle’s wheels are displayed as attractively as possible. Tires that are outfitted with poor treads are not going to score as well with the judges, so as with any other part of the car, drivers should be sure to optimize. After a basic clean with a stiff brush and spray bottle, drivers will have the chance to improve the appearance of their tires even further with a can of tire spray. With the tire spray ready, drivers should spray its contents gently in a circular motion around the wheels as necessary. This will result in the tires shining without streaking.

Presenting the Vehicle

Cars Displayed at a Car ShowFinally, with the car looking and performing its best, drivers will be ready to take it over to the show. After all of the work that the driver did, it is recommended for them to have the car shipped over to avoid any potential problems during the drive. When the car has its own spot at the show, the owner will then move on to the last step: presentation. Here, it can be a good idea to augment the hard work while allowing the vehicle to speak for itself. Drivers can choose between display stands and tables to provide judges with an interactive experience. Drivers can include advertising brochures, owner’s manuals, shop manuals and anything else that can help capture the essence of the car.

Owners are encouraged to get as creative as they would like and to think of some things that they can do to set their presentation apart from the competition. It is important to avoid going overboard and to make sure that the entire car is presented as more than the sum of its parts. Opening the doors, the hood and positioning the wheels depends on the driver’s preferences and how the appearance will represent the vehicle. No matter what, it is important to have fun with the process!

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  • Hi This page will help me a lot for the 2019 season of car shows in the Province of Quebec where car shows are very numerous and popular.I have a 1964 Thunderbird convertible with all exterior roadster options and continental kit with 48 spoke Kelsey Hayes wheel. It is a California car that has the original paint and only 18500 miles.I have saved your site and come April I will definitely buy all the products I need on your site.I am also adding 4 coats of clear coat.How many coats of clear coat do you recommend.

    • Hello! Typically 4 coats of clear is sufficient enough to bring clarity and allow for buffing and polishing, but if you are looking for a truly deeper and more glossy paint surface, we would say go closer to 6 or 7 coats of clear. But this is completely up to you on the type of finish and depth you are looking for.