How to... clean and care for your classic car’s hood

| 20 Jun 2019
Classic & Sports Car – How to... clean and care for your classic car’s hood

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Hood care is often put on the back burner as owners enjoy top-down outings, then accept the leaks or leave the car in the garage when the weather turns.

It doesn’t have to be like this, however. A few hours spent attending to the particular needs of your classic car’s hood can greatly increase its weather resistance.

Vinyl hoods tend to fare better. The material is homogenous, so has a longer life expectancy, and is naturally water-resistant in a way that canvas and double-duck aren’t. Try to avoid raising or lowering a vinyl top when the temperature is below 10ºC – the covering becomes brittle and cracks more easily.

Cloth hoods are less frequently lined and can be badly affected by UV degradation, changing colour and losing their waterproofing qualities.

The individual fibres of the fabric can shrink, allowing moisture to penetrate, but it can be improved with cleaning and treatment. Where possible, try to avoid parking a cloth-topped car in direct sunlight for too long.

Once re-proofed, vinyl hoods can be used straight away, but cloth hoods need to be kept indoors for 24 hours to allow the proofing compounds to dry thoroughly.


STEP 1: CLEANING (VINYL)

Classic & Sports Car – How to... clean and care for your classic car’s hood

Spray or brush on a vinyl cleaner in sections, then let it react or foam up for about half a minute.

Use a brush with medium-stiffness bristles to agitate the surface and remove embedded dirt. With grained vinyls, brushing with a circular motion tends to prove most effective at lifting grime.

STEP 2: FOLDS AND SEAMS (VINYL)

Classic & Sports Car – How to... clean and care for your classic car’s hood

Use a narrow brush, such as an old toothbrush, to remove dirt that is buried in the seams. Pay attention to lines of stitching, because folds and overlaps trap muck and attract mould and moss spores.

When you have finished, use lukewarm water to rinse off the cleaner, then leather off before leaving to air dry.

STEP 3: TREATMENT (VINYL)

Classic & Sports Car – How to... clean and care for your classic car’s hood

Apply a generous amount of protectant to the surface, either with a sponge or spray. Leave the product for up to two minutes before buffing off any excess and working the conditioner into seams and folds.

If a patchy finish is left after first treatment, re-apply until an even sheen is obtained. 

STEP 4: CLEANING (CLOTH)

Classic & Sports Car – How to... clean and care for your classic car’s hood

Decant some cleaner into a small container, then test the product on an inconspicuous area before applying to the whole hood with a new paintbrush, working from the centre out.

Allow up to a minute to react with dirt, agitate with a soft brush – another clean paintbrush is ideal – then rinse and dry as in step 2. 

STEP 5: RE-PROOFING (CLOTH)

Classic & Sports Car – How to... clean and care for your classic car’s hood

Use a new paintbrush and once again test on a small area before you apply the proofing liquid to the whole hood.

Work with light strokes to apply an even layer to the surface. Avoid agitating or ‘brushing-out’ the liquid too much, then allow the product to dry away from direct sunlight.

STEP 6: CLEANING WINDOWS

Classic & Sports Car – How to... clean and care for your classic car’s hood

Some more expensive drop-tops (and many modern classics) use glass rear screens, which can easily be polished with glass cleaner.

To remove light scuffs and reduce milkiness in plastic windows, after cleaning use a plastic reviver such as Hindsight or Renovo Window Polish.

STEP 7: LUBRICATE MECHANISM

Classic & Sports Car – How to... clean and care for your classic car’s hood

With your hood opened for access, use a lightweight grease to lubricate the frame hinges and pivot points.

Aerosol white grease is ideal, because the force of the spray pushes it into the joint, and excess can easily be wiped off to avoid staining the fabric and attracting dirt in the future.

STEP 8: CHECK AND ADJUST CATCHES

Classic & Sports Car – How to... clean and care for your classic car’s hood

With so many moving parts, hood mechanisms can slacken and give rise to wind whistles and leaks.

Where adjustable catches are fitted, ensure they create sufficient tension to pull the hood taut, and check that lock-nuts are adequately tight, so they don’t rattle loose when travelling with the top down.


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