R8’s keen eye for details

It may seem like a simple task but keeping your car clean is an essential part of its upkeep. R8 learnt a few tricks of the detailing trade and got to try out some innovative new products when they visited Nielsen recently.

R8 last visited the Nielsen HQ in Derbyshire a year ago, where Alan Mendelson’s Guards Red 1988 911 Carrera was used to demonstrate the brand’s specialist range of car cleaning products. Alan and his wife Beryl cover up to 7000 miles each year, and while Alan admits the car won’t be winning any Concours competitions, he was absolutely thrilled with the results after Nielsen’s team of experts returned the car’s paintwork to as close to new condition as possible!

A year later, and another 6000 miles on the clock, Alan and R8 returned to Nielsen to see whether the products had stood the test of time and to pick up more tips on how to put a professional shine on your car.

Clean machine

Nielsen’s Sales Director, Glen Paston, met the group and went through a professional detailing process using the company’s demonstrator vehicle.

First up – the wash. After removal of as much surface grime as possible, Nielsen’s experts started with the grubbiest part of any car – the wheels. Using a new non-acidic wheel cleaner, the wheels readily gave up a whole range of muck including brake dust, traffic film and oil residue.

nielsen wash - R8’s keen eye for details

Once sparkling, another new product called White Out (a non-caustic traffic film remover) was used to cover the vehicle in white foamy bubbles designed to agitate and break down more stubborn surface particles.

Top tip: You might be surprised to hear that Nielsen actually recommends washing the car from bottom to top! This technique has been adopted further to lots of testing and surface analysis. The reason is that the dirt runs off the lower freshly cleaned body panels much more effectively rather than sticking to dirt lower down when washing top to bottom. The buildup of dirt in traditional top to bottom cleaning significantly increases the risks of surface damage as the body is sponged clean.

12 months on… Shine, baby shine!

The paintwork on Alan’s 911 had originally been renovated using Nielsen’s medium and fine cutting compounds and a Machine Operated Polisher (MOP), followed by Exhibition Wax.

“The bonnet of my car still has the original paintwork, but when I first visited Nielsen it was very dull with white ‘puddles’ that looked like milk stains in the paint,” said Alan.

Glen informed Alan that these were oxidation marks and could be treated using the Machine Operated Polisher. “I’m pleased to report that all of the marks came out, and they haven’t reappeared 12 months on.”

Glen again used the demonstrator car which was black in colour to show this year’s group just how easy it was to perform this technique by proper use of the MOP and correct application of cutting compounds – before inviting members to try the machine for themselves.

Top tip: “One of the benefits of days like this is being able to use equipment such as a machine polisher,” says Alan. “Many owners have reservations about this process because they’re worried about damaging their pride and joy. But we had a look at the paintwork after it had been polished, and while the bonnet was a little hot to the touch, the paint was just fine. This showed that anyone using a machine polisher properly shouldn’t damage their car.”

porsche cleaning

Spoiler alert!

Alan’s car has the whale tail and front lip spoiler, and during R8’s first visit the black rubber wing, black grill was sprayed with the silicone-free dressing Non-Sil. Once polished, the rear wing came up like new.

Top tip: To avoid getting overspray on glass and other panels, use a microfiber cloth to apply the product instead of spraying directly onto the car. As an added precaution always fold the edges of the microfiber inwards to prevent the nylon thread finishing edges from scratching the paintwork.


Glen showed the group how to remove blemishes, or denib, (the removal of nibs trapped in a layer of paint.) using a special hand-held tool known as a “cotton reel” in the trade. He attached various grades of Bodyshop abrasive paper to remove the marks, before polishing by machine and by hand to finish the treatment.

Top tip: You do not need to use an excessive amount of polish to make a vehicle shine – a little goes a long way. Apply it in a circular motion and finish in straight lines.

nielsen car cleaning

Bag for life

Several R8 members wanted to know how to use a clay bar, which removes bonded contaminants such as airborne pollutants, brake dust and acid rain deposits. But how do you know when to use it? Glen amazed the group with a simple trick of the trade which involves placing your hand in a plastic bag and running it over paintwork to feel for any irregularities. Once everyone had tried out the ‘magic’ bag trick on their own cars, Glen demonstrated how to use the clay bar. The secret is to use a small amount, which should be kept well lubricated with shampoo, and continually folded inwards to avoid rubbing contaminants back into the paint.

Top tip: When the clay glides freely over the surface the paint is clean. Always polish your car after using a clay bar.

Did R8 find the visit useful?

“It was extremely interesting to see how the experts wash, clean and detail a car,” says Alan, “and I’m looking forward to our next visit to Nielsen on the 10th of August!”

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