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Old 01-09-2009, 08:02 PM   #1
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Shine On: Damon Hill's 1996 Williams Formula One car & Lamborghini Gallardo

I can't honestly say I've ever seen a detail of an F1 car before, so to be asked to look after this collection of something I'm going to cherish!

Firstly, a litte bit of how this came about. A chap who knows me through the Lotus community sent me an email, asking if I'd be interested in travelling to his house to detail his mother's Phantom Black Audi TTS which has been kept outside since they got it last winter, during building work on their houses, and was looking a little sorry for itself. No problem I said.

It continued. While I was there, would I be able to have a quick tickle over of his father's Lamborghini Gallardo, rarely used, but could do with a light polish and a coat of wax. Sure said I, by no means a local job it would make the journey more worthwhile.

Then, would I also mind detailing his father's Williams. I replied - Clio? Megane? Something I haven't thought of? I wasn't expecting the reply I got. The 1996 Formula One World Championship winning car from Williams, driven by Damon Hill!

Naturally, I jumped at the chance, so fast forward a couple of months and here I was, standing at their well secluded gates. On my arrival, my contact, Paul (the owner's son) let me onto the property, showed me where to park, and made me a coffee. First job was the Lamborghini, before I got side tracked by what was to come later.

The car has just been returned from the dealer on a covered transporter, having been treated to it's second service despite only covering a grand total of 560 miles. Despite a request not to, it had been washed, but as a pleasant surprise they hadn't done a bad job. As the weather outside was grim, I gave the car a bed bath inside to ensure no dust or anything gritty was present, then used yellow polyclay to double check the paint was contaminent free.

In the lights in the garage, the paint looked pretty good, a closer inspection with a halogen light showed small areas of marring like below, I found it hard to get a clear picture of it.

So, using my Chicago rotary, with a Megs polishing pad and Swissvax Cleaner Fluid Pro, I worked my way around the car to remove the marring and restore gloss to the amazing Verde Ithaca paint (that's green to you and I!)

This didn't take too long, and once finished I got straight on with applying regular cleaner fluid to both paintwork and wheels with a microfibre pad, to ensure the very best surface possible for the wax. With that buffed off after approx 15 minutes wait, LSP was applied - Divine for the paint, Autobahn for the wheels.

Leaving those to cure for around 30 minutes, I vacuumed the carpet mats and applied Scotchguard protector to them. I also applied a leather protector I have been given to test.

Wax buffed, shuts cleaned, glass polished, tyres dressed and exhausts shining, I grabbed a couple of shots inside the garage.

Jumping out of sequence a little, the next morning was something of a contrast, with a rich blue sky allowing the welcome warmth of the sun to fill the courtyard. So, before putting the now immaculate Gallardo into the big garage, with it's F1 buddies, I took the opportunity to grab a few more shots. I particularly liked the way the ultra modern car sat against the beautiful listed building.

So, moving back to the first day, it was time to relocate to one of the most amazing workshops and display area's I've ever seen, let alone with it being inside the house!

A bit of background on the cars. The main subject of this detail is indeed the very car Damon Hill drove to his Formula One World Championship title in 1996. It is chassis number FW18-01. Amazingly, the chap who own's this car still runs it, and this year has taken part in several races and drove it up the famous hill during the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Despite being unique in terms of it's history and heritage, and very valuable, I think it's great that it is still used for competition. A very reliable car in it's day, it was designed by Patrick Head and Adrian Newey, and according to the current owner, is just about the last year that the cars were 'relatively' straight forward to run.

By relatively, I mean it still takes a team of 7 people to carefully warm it through, using oil maintained at 60 degrees celcius, warm water, heating fans on the outer engine block and radiators etc. Once started, if the oil temperature is allowed to drop below 60, they must drain everything down and start again. And remember, this is the easier car to run! After this year, electronics became much more prevelant and teams of people with laptops and massive computing power are needed to run the car - the cost and logistics become simply daft.

In the garage itself is the matching FW18-02 chassis, Jacques Villeneuve's car, who finished 2nd in the Driver's Championship and helped secure the Constructors win for Williams that year. Whilst there is an engine in the car, it is the same engnie that completed the last race of the season, and hasn't been started since the end of 1996. As such, it's considered pretty much scrap - but the owner has managed to secure a box fresh brand new 3.0 litre V10 engine to replace it!

Finally, a Lucky Strike Honda from 2004, driven by Jenson Button. As it stands, this is a 'plastic car', which is to say that while it looks the part, it currently has no engine and is therefore a show piece. That may well change in the future though.

So back to the job in hand. In order to prevent making a mess around the car, plastic sheets were laid all around it, creating static and so holding onto dust. I wasn't even wearing shoes to prevent leaving wet foot prints all over the polished white marble floor.

I started by wiping the car down with a soft cloth and Swissvax Quick Finish. The point of the excercise was to make it look a little shinier whilst on display, and as I've been asked to look after the cars regularly in the future, it will help make it easier to clean after it has been on track.

The dark blue areas of the car were desperately scratched and marred, so my main focus would be to improve those, but all the time being very aware of stickers, graphics, and delicate parts. The eagle eyed amongst you may notice a wing mirror is missing - broken off during transportation and hideously expensive to rectify!

Using some new pads from Swissvax I've been given to try (a range of spot pods sold together, called a Padtower), I selected a medium firmness polishing pad, together with Menzerna 203, and working at slow speed, moved around the car.

An instant improvement was visible:

It got better after a couple of hits, paint removal was minimal but it was measuring very thin, so I approched it gently.

Nose cone before:

Nose cone after:

Where there were areas of blue in amoungst graphics, I used a microfibre pad and Cleaner Fluid Pro to avoid the unthinkable. Polishing completed, I used regular Cleaner Fluid, then applied Divine wax.

While that was curing, I grabbed some pictures of the other cars.

Wax cured, it buffed away effortlessly to leave a deep glossy lustre, and a very happy owner.

Thanks for reading, I look forward to bringing you more as I work on the other cars, and as the owner's collection expands and evolves. He has owned and raced quite a few older F1 cars previously, and no doubt will continue to do so.
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Old 01-09-2009, 08:10 PM   #2
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OMG what a fantastic place and collection

Well done for getting in on that one and nice work as ever
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Old 01-09-2009, 08:11 PM   #3
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amazing Paul - glad it happened and was looing forward to the pics Need to go back for a full read now
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Old 01-09-2009, 08:12 PM   #4
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Old 01-09-2009, 08:14 PM   #5
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Fabulous. Absolutely fabulous.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 01-09-2009, 08:16 PM   #6
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Wow, that is absolutely fantastic. Both the cars, and the house! Great work, both cars look absolutely ace.
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Old 01-09-2009, 08:17 PM   #7
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Lucky devil......
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Old 01-09-2009, 08:19 PM   #8
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Wow, nice one Paul...moving in the right circles
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Old 01-09-2009, 08:21 PM   #9
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Great work by the way
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Old 01-09-2009, 08:22 PM   #10
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Nice one Paul both cars look great
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