Advantages Dead good
Disadvantages Dead hard to get hold of
|Competitiveness of APR|
|Comprehensiveness of range of products|
|Efficiency of service|
|Value for money|
|Online - Content/organization of site||Excellent|
|Online - Reliability/speed of site||Excellent|
If you are a serious enthusiast or just fastidious about the appearance of your car then I have a little known (at least in the UK) secret to share. You know that really fantastic, deep shine that they seem to be able to get on show cars? The kind where you can't tell where the shine ends and the car begins? The shine that looks so deep and wet you feel you could sink your hand into it? Trouble is, you can't get a shine like that on your own car, no matter how hard you try, can you? Well listen to this.I came across this range of products some years ago when I was first beginning to prep my old car for showing. I saw a car at one particular event and the quality of the shine just knocked me out. I was so intrigued that I asked the owner how it was done and he told me that he used a system from a company called Zaino Brothers, based in New Jersey USA. Over the next few weeks I tried, without success, to find the stuff. I think a lot of the stockists I called thought I was taking the piss. Be honest, “Zaino Brothers” sounds more like a bloody circus-act than a make of car polish! In desparation I looked up their number on their web-site and gave them a ring. They were very polite but told me that they didn't ship to the UK and didn't know anyone who did. Bugger!
In the end I did find a way to buy it here but I bought my first batch while on a trip to the US. The Zaino product is very unlike any other car polish. For a start, it doesn't come in one bottle like Turtle wax, Mer and all the others. Instead, there are a series of different applications that you have to apply in strict sequence. In all, there are fifteen different products in the range and most of 'em just have a number like “Z-2” or “Z-6” however, there is a very good user guide on the website (www.zainobros.com) which goes into great detail on how and when to use each.So, first off; a bit of science... Over time the paintwork of your car will react with sunlight and airborne chemicals in the atmosphere. This results in a very thin layer of oxidisation which dulls the finish. In extreme cases you will need to use a mild abrasive such as “T-Cut” to remove this unwanted layer. Unfortunately, each time you use an abrasive it will do a small amount of damage to the paintwork itself so
Zaino's products are guaranteed 100% non-abrasive. However, this means that there are a few things that you must do in preparation before you use them. Firstly, you must remove ALL previously applied waxes and polishes from your car to the point where you can apply the “squeak” test. All this means is that when you gently run your finger over the cleaned, dry paintwork it should “squeak”. The easiest way to get the old stuff off is to wash your car thoroughly with a concentrated detergent solution. Any relatively simple, non-perfumed, household liquid, like Fairy, will do nicely. Zaino themselves recommend an American washing-up liquid which is, unfortunately, not available here.For stubborn stains like road tar and oxidisation you can use the Zaino “Clay Bar”. I don't know what this thing is made from (clay maybe? Doh!) but they claim that it is non-abrasive. Anyhow, you rub it on these stains and it will gently remove them.
Once the car is thoroughly clean and dry, it is time to apply the Z-1 Pre-cleaner and Lok. You apply this white cream with a polish applicator, not in circles like a conventional polish, but in straight lines. This is true of all of the Zaino product line. They claim that their products are 99.9% optically perfect and that you must apply them in this way to maximise the final result. Furthermore, you don't buff the Lok off. It should be simply left to dry. This forms the “base” for the next sequence of treatments. The immediate thing that you notice when applying the Lok is the smell. It is quite unlike anything I have ever come across before. Very sweet, the closest thing I can liken it to is cheap fruity bubblegum. It is really quite pleasant and, to be honest, I think part of the showbusiness. You are instantly aware that you are using something quite different from anything you have come across before.My old car had a lot of swirl marks and little scratches in its old paintwork, the legacy of over-enthusiastic previous owners. Zaino recommend “Z-5” anti-swirl polish as the next step in the process in such cases. You apply the Z-5 straight over the top of the unpolished Z-1 Lok coat. You can apply as many coats as you like and you will see the swirls gradually disappear each time you buff the coat up. My old Corvette took three coats before I was happy with the result. Next comes the top-coat. You can use either Z-2 if your car has a clearcoat finish or Z-3 for normal finishes. For my car I used Z-2. Again, you can apply as many coats as you like and you will see the shine getting deeper and deeper with each coat. I applied four coats before I was satisfied. By this time the car looked fantastic, almost as if it was encased in a layer of crystal, and the light just bounced off it every which way. The final touch is Z-6 Gloss Enhancer. This is a pump-spray which you use very sparingly. You spray it on to a small area and wipe it off immediately with a soft cotton towel. The end result is nothing short of stunning. I have some photos of the car taken just after it was finished and it looks as good as any show car I have ever seen. At night, under sodium street lights, it just looks unreal.
I have been using these products for just over three years now and I can honestly say that they are streets ahead of anything else I have tried. What's more, the shine seems to last for ages. Every now and again I just go over the car with the Z-6 enhancer and it brings it right back up to show condition. Once a year, I re-do the whole car from scratch. The only down-side is that you realistically need to set aside two or three days to do the job properly. I normally do it over a couple of weekends. What's more it's bloody hard work, what with all that polishing and so on. However, I cheat on the big flat bits and use an electric buff (thirty quid from Halfords).My first batch is just running out after almost three years. My Z-2 and Z-5 have just about gone but I still have some Lok and loads of enhancer left. It's not cheap at between 10 and 17 dollars a bottle but it is absolutely the very best stuff I have ever tried. Oh, and you can get it on-line from Ecklers, the Florida-based Corvette parts dealer (www.ecklers.com). If you want the hottest poopest scoot on the block then you'd best get your order in now. Circus? What Circus?
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