Restoring its Appearance, Page 1
The new car, Day 1
I purchased the second 318iS on October 2, 2005. The previous car had been totalled about 6 weeks prior to this, so I was very fortunate to locate another 318iS in such a short time. I found it on Craig's List, a free listing service in the Bay Area and around the world. Well, needless to say, the car needed some cosmetic work.
The paint was badly oxidized, and had oak sap all over it. For those who have not dealt with oak sap, it does NOT come off with a wash-mit or sponge. Oak tree rubbish could be found in every crack and crevice (leaves, bark and other gunk). Being that the previous owner had been a carpenter, and the car sat in his shop for a long time, the interior had sawdust in every imaginable place. There was also an aftermarket GPS system installed in the center console, a non-functional radar detector on the dash, and a CD changer under the driver's seat. So, it think it goes without saying that I would need to put a little time into making it look good again (the engine work it needed is another story entirely!).
Now, the news was not ALL bad. The paint was definitely not damaged beyond repair, it would just require some elbow grease to get in ship-shape. As unclean as the interior seemed, the vinyl seats had no tears, the carpet no stains, and not a single crack in the dash. With a little help from a toothbrush and Meguiars vinyl conditioner I was able to get it in immaculate condition in a couple hours. The GPS system had been dealer-installed, so nothing was hurt when it was installed or removed. The CD changer was the same case. Removing the radar detector was painless as well; the previous owner HAD made sure that a quality install job had been done on everything.
Being a college student and living 2 hours from a garage, work could only be done on weekends. The second weekend held room for a little work. First, I cleaned the wheels with a toothbrush as they were heavily crusted with brake dust. You can see the difference between the mitt-scrubbed half of the wheel, and the toothbrushed half in the first picture. All four wheels were removed and cleaned, inside and out.
Once the wheels were done, the real work began. I purchased a Mother's clay bar kit at a local auto store to rid the paint of the oak sap and other surface impurities. The process took about an hour-and-a-half, and was probably the hardest finger work-out I have ever had. The results were more than worth the pain though. Although it is hard to see, the clay-barring removed all of the oak sap, leaving the paint blissfully smooth. Due to time constraints, and being very tired, I did not polish the car the second weekend.