Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
January 4, 2010
Photos By: The Mustang Monthly Archives

"You'd think when people go to a show they'd have their car clean," says Perkins, who goes on to say that cleanliness is not one of his pet peeves. "I don't look at that as being the fault of the car; it's the fault of the owner. I'd rather put more emphasis on details that are incorrect. An owner isn't going to learn anything about his car if you take off 20 points for a little dust. If it's something that happened at the show, like pollen or dust from an overhead air exchanger at in indoor venue, I don't get too concerned about it. But if you look down at the framerails in the engine compartment and you can see where they wiped all around but missed a big spot, then I would take off."

Don't miss the nooks and crannies, says Speegle. "Everybody cleans the exterior pretty well, except we sometimes still see wax in the cracks. We also see dirt in the doorjambs, up by the hinges, because that's more difficult to clean. Pull the spare tire and clean under it. Interiors are usually pretty good, but often we'll find dust on top of the fastback rear quarter trim. Any area that's hard to reach, like package trays, is something we're going to be looking at."

Another spot that qualifies as a "nook and cranny" is the area around the steering box. "Because steering boxes are down there with brake lines in the way, it's difficult to reach," Speegle adds. "Some guys have come up with their own tools and tricks, everything from 10-inch-long Q-Tips to one of those Swifter dusters. When it comes to cleaning, go to shows and see what other people are using."

The undercarriage is more difficult for judges to inspect, especially since they aren't allowed to use mirrors and/or flashlights, but if it's really dirty and oily, that's almost like an insult to the judges for the concours classes. "When it's really dirty, we have to wonder if the car is in the right class," says Speegle. "We expect these cars to be meticulous. If you've got an Occasional Driver and you prep the undercarriage like a Concours Driven, there's nothing wrong with that. You might put a big smile on the judges' faces. There's nothing wrong with impressing the judges."

In the Details
It's the small things that can add up to big-time point deductions. We asked our judges to point out some areas where car-show owners can pick up some points without a lot of effort.

Parts preparation: "I see a lot of cars in the concours classes where people don't take the time to prepare parts correctly," Turner tells us. "You'll see sanding scratches and even rust underneath paint. We also see missing clips, decals in the wrong places, incorrect paint stamps on the fenders, and poor spark plug wire routing. In the Concours Driven classes, you can take out the fender bolts and spray them with a little paint or refinish them in phosphate and oil. In the trunk, people seem to get the spare tire storage wrong-I mean, it's illustrated right there on the trunk lid decal. Another big thing is incorrect paint marks. A lot of times people copy what they see in a magazine or use someone else's car, which may be from a different assembly plant, as a guide. People go crazy on the green and yellow markings on the suspension but they need to spend more time getting the other stuff right before getting concerned about that."

Interior screws: "Often they are missing or the head size is wrong," says Speegle. "Most factory interior screws have a very small head but owners go down to the local hardware store and get these great big ones. It's obvious that they don't seat into the countersunk holes in the panels so they stand out. Also, make sure the screws are the same; every Mustang vendor sells screw kits."