Tested: the best classic car accessories

| 18 Jun 2019
Tested: the best classic car accessories

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As every enthusiast knows, driving is only part of the classic car experience.

Unless you’re very fortunate, you probably also spend plenty of time fixing problems both big and small – and even if you don’t, you still need to carry out basic maintenance and clean it occasionally.

So, what should you buy? Here’s our round-up of the best products we’ve tested so far in 2019. 


Simoniz Upholstery & Carpet Cleaner

Simoniz’ Upholstery & Carpet Cleaner is a multi-award-winning formula that the firm promises will quickly remove stains and odours.

The 400ml aerosol can comes complete with a brush attachment that allows you to work the product deep into seat fabric or carpet pile. Simply spray the foam on to the affected area and wait for 30 secs before agitating it with a circular motion. Then wipe with a damp cloth or sponge, allow to dry, and vacuum away. 

We tested the product on a filthy set of seatbelts and were amazed by how much dirt was removed, as the white foam turned a murky brown. Prices start at £4.50. GM

C&SC RATING: 7/10

Buy Simoniz Upholstery & Carpet Cleaner here


Halfords Microfibre Wash Glove

Not all great ideas cost the earth, as proved by Halfords’ handy £4 microfibre wash glove.

One side is a plush microfibre towel, which helps to remove grit and debris from paint surfaces, while the reverse is a fibre mesh that’s useful for cleaning stubborn marks from glass. The glove is ideal for hard-to-reach areas, such as wire and alloy wheels; we found it so easy to use that we used it to clean the entire car.

Unlike others it offered a relatively snug fit, and didn’t hold so much water that it became cumbersome. Cheap and effective. GM

C&SC RATING: 8/10

Buy the Halfords Microfibre Wash Glove here


Clarke 12V Impact Wrench

Clarke’s new 12V Impact Wrench is perfect for the quick removal of over-tightened wheel nuts and corroded fixings on your classic – particularly if you don’t have access to mains power or a compressor.

The impact wrench plugs into the 12V socket in your car, or direct from your classic’s battery thanks to the connectors provided. Peak torque is an impressive 350Nm, which is more than enough to shift even the most stubborn wheel nuts. The unit has a reverse gear, and comes supplied with two double-ended sockets catering for 17, 19, 21 and 23mm.

It’s not the lightest tool, but is compact enough to store in your car’s boot during longer journeys. The wrench is reasonably priced, too, at £41.99 from Machine Mart. GM

C&SC RATING: 9/10

Buy the Clarke 12V Impact Wrench here


Autoglass Rain Repel

This is effectively Autoglass’ rival to Rain-X, and it is indeed effective. It supposedly lasts for four months, one more than Rain-X, though it costs four times more at £20.

It’s easy to apply and comes with a very good windscreen cleaning spray. Once clean and cleared, the fabric-wrapped applicator is wiped across the ’screen and buffed away. Autoglass says it takes 12 minutes from starting to finishing the job, which proved right.

It beads well but it works best at more than 60mph. Even the dirty mist and road spray collects, helping to improve visibility and take some of the load from your wipers – though it can leave some smears, so buff for longer than you think necessary. JP

C&SC RATING: 8/10

Buy Autoglass Rain Repel here


Sam’s Detailing Exclusive Sample Kit

Car detailing (or ‘cleaning’) can be intimidating, with countless products for everything. Sam’s Detailing has a solution: its Exclusive Sample Kit contains eight products to test before shelling out for the full-size bottles.

It costs £25 and includes Snow Foam, Shampoo, Hybrid Sealant, Rubber & Trim Dressing, Iron Reactor, Exterior Detailer, Interior Detailer and Ceramic Boost. The high-quality shampoo produced plenty of suds and a smooth finish. GM

C&SC RATING: 9/10

Buy Sam’s Detailing Exclusive Sample Kit here


Ryobi 18V Impact Wrench 

The R18IW3 is part of Ryobi’s latest range of ONE+ ‘shared battery’ tools. The three-speed wrench features a half-inch drive and comes with a hex adaptor so you can also use it with screwdriver bits.

It feels heavy-duty and is well constructed. Although it weighs 2kg with the battery, it is nicely balanced. In use, the three speeds meant most tasks were completed without fuss, from wheel nuts to suspension fittings. The powerful LED lights around the nose were useful in dim wheelarches.

It retails for a sensible £89.95 – although it can definitely be found for slightly less if you shop around, including from Amazon, where it costs £77.99 (link below). Bear in mind that adding a battery and charger will almost double that, though, so it makes most sense to buy as part of a selection of other tools from Ryobi’s range.

Overall, a very impressive addition to the workshop. MP

C&SC RATING: 8/10

Buy the Ryobi 18V Impact Wrench here


JerryCo 3" Rolled-Tip Exhaust Mug

JerryCo claims that this is the world’s strongest mug. Made from 304 catering-grade stainless steel, it is a replica of a rolled-tip 3in exhaust. Even the 8mm steel handle, which is welded to the mug, is made to resemble an exhaust hanger.

Inevitably the stainless steel gets very hot, so beware when using it for tea or coffee, but when cooled the rolled rim is nice and comfortable to use. It is quite heavy, 300g when empty, but the benefit is that it feels sturdy. Of course it looks good and, being stainless steel, it is guaranteed not to rust. But for £19.99, you’d expect that. LP

C&SC RATING: 6/10

Buy the JerryCo 3" Rolled-Tip Exhaust Mug here


Wowo’s Contact 121 Wax 

Wowo’s Contact 121 sealant has gained a strong following since its introduction in 2016, and with good cause.

The hard wax comprises a Carnauba and Montan base blended with the latest coating technologies, which combine to create a water contact angle of 121º – hence the name.

Application is easy: just apply to your classic one panel at a time with a microfibre pad, then immediately buff off with a clean microfibre towel. We found Contact 121 easy to apply and even easier to remove, with no dust or residue left behind. Water beading and sheeting was very impressive, leaving no doubt that our test car’s paint is now well protected.

A 200ml tub is priced at £50. GM

C&SC RATING: 9/10

Buy a tub of Wowo’s Contact 121 Wax here


Ring Automotive RTC1000 Rapid Digital Tyre Inflator

The humble tyre pump has been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century by Ring, which has just unveiled its brand-new, high-tech inflator.

The £49.95 gadget (under £40 if you shop around online) is powered by your classic’s 12V socket, just like a conventional pump, but it gives a digital readout accurate to two decimal places. There’s also a handy dial for setting the target pressure.

The inflator is capable of reaching pressures of 100psi or 6.9bar, and can inflate a flat tyre within two minutes, automatically stopping when it reaches the preset figure. Additional features include an LED light, a wind-up cord and a protective storage case.

It is as simple to use as a conventional pump, but with the accuracy you get from garage forecourt machines. GM

C&SC RATING: 8/10

Buy the Ring Automotive RTC1000 Rapid Digital Tyre Inflator here


Dremel SpeedClic cutting set

Tested: the best classic car accessories

When space is tight and doesn’t allow for a traditional 41/2 in cutting disc and angle grinder, options are limited. Although a 3in cut-off tool would do, you’d need a compressor because most are air-powered. Enter this Dremel 10-piece cutting set.

With six SC456 38mm metal cutting discs, two SC409 discs with a reduced thickness of just 0.75mm and two SC476 plastic cutting discs, most options are covered and the pack comes with Dremel’s SpeedClic mandril.

When tested on 2mm steel, the thicker discs performed well and cut easily, although life is limited due to their small size. They did, however, provide access into tight corners and make a very controlled cut.

The SpeedClic mandril allowed for quick disc swaps, and is an advantage over screw-on systems when working in a confined space.

Definitely worth the £24 price tag when nothing else fits, particularly because the SpeedClic mandril retails for £10 on its own. MP

C&SC RATING: 8/10

Buy the Dremel SpeedClic cutting set here


Rain-X Anti-Fog glass treatment

Tested: the best classic car accessories

Rain-X has been the go-to for as long as we can remember. This formula prevents fogging and misting, so is perfect if your classic has got damp in winter.

It proved very effective at preventing fogging, keeping a bathroom mirror almost completely mist-free, but it left a slight haze that was difficult to remove. We would have no qualms about treating rear windows, but recommend testing on a small area before applying it to a windscreen.

The RRP is £6.99, but a 200ml bottle is £3 online. GM

C&SC RATING: 6/10

Buy Rain-X Anti-Fog glass treatment here


ValetPro Maximum Shine Tyre Gel

Tested: the best classic car accessories

Valet Pro’s Maximum Shine Tyre Gel is simple to apply – just squeeze a few drops of formula onto the provided applicator pad and work in to clean, dry rubber.

The gel’s silicone base should make it long-lasting, and helps to keep that just-dressed, high-gloss wet look. Valet Pro says it will survive heavy rain, and rigorous testing has ensured it won’t sling.

We were pleased with the result the Maximum Shine Tyre Gel achieved, and it gave our test tyres a nicely uniform appearance. A little goes a long way – you’ll probably lose the bottle in a house move or somewhere in the garage before you get to the bottom of it! A 500ml bottle costs £11.95 from Valet Pro direct. GM

C&SC RATING: 6/10

Buy ValetPro Maximum Shine Tyre Gel here


Clarke 6-tonne Axle Stands

Tested: the best classic car accessories

We’ve been using these Clarke heavy-duty axle stands for a few years now, and although the paint finish may be fading, they remain our go-to stands for anything needing serious support.

Rated with a capacity of six tonnes per pair (three tonnes per stand), they are more than up to the job for most domestic uses, but are also marketed as professional grade.

The only slight downside is that, with a collapsed height of 400mm, you need to jack the car pretty high to start with. The maximum height of 615mm provides plenty of safe working room, and although the ratchet action has a ‘quick-release’ function, this locks securely under load.

They aren’t light, but can be lifted easily with one hand, and at £41.99 for a pair they’re a valuable long-term addition to the classic workshop. MP

C&SC RATING: 9/10

Buy Clarke 6-tonne Axle Stands here


HotHands Hand Warmers

Tested: the best classic car accessories

Anyone who’s spent time on a classic endurance rally (or more likely stranded at the side of the road awaiting recovery) will appreciate how cold old cars can get.

These cheap-as-chips hand- warmers should help; simply open the packet and hold the sachet in your hands, allowing air to activate the iron and carbon contents.

They take a while to warm up, but reach an impressive temperature – and the colder your hands, the warmer they seem to be! Each packet costs £1 and contains two sachets. Handy to keep in the glovebox. GM

C&SC RATING: 7/10

Buy HotHands Hand Warmers here


Simoniz Anti-Glare Glass Cleaner

Tested: the best classic car accessories

Simoniz’ latest glass cleaner is said to be specially formulated to avoid streaks and reduce glare. During our test we struggled to tell whether or not it had an effect on night-time glare, but it did perform admirably well as a glass cleaner.

We found that this product requires a bit more buffing than some cleaners, but there were certainly fewer streaks than we were expecting. If you’re keen to reduce night-time glare when driving then this is certainly worth a try – at worst you’ll have sparkling windows.

Online prices range from £3.99 to £9.99, so be sure to shop around. GM

C&SC RATING: 7/10

Buy Simoniz Anti-Glare Glass Cleaner here


Milenco High Security Steering Wheel Lock

Tested: the best classic car accessories

Milenco’s latest wheel lock is a usefully heavy-duty upgrade over its conventional extending device. Two prongs built into a heavyweight central tube lock around the spokes of your classic’s steering wheel, a more rugged solution that’s claimed to be two and a half times tougher than Thatcham Category 3 – it certainly feels substantial.

Our only gripe is that it better suits wheels with a central upper spoke, otherwise you have to apply lock to keep it in the 12 o’clock position, where it is the best deterrent. It’s £59.95. GM

C&SC RATING: 8/10

Buy a Milenco High Security Steering Wheel Lock here


Chipex Miracle Detailer

Tested: the best classic car accessories

Quick detailers can be great if you need to spruce up your classic but don’t have the time to wax it. This £12.95 option is a decent attempt that sprayed on nicely and was easy to use, straight away improving the look of our grubby test car and returning a pleasing shine to its paint.

Like the firm’s screenwash, it’s also hydrophobic and produced the beading you’d expect from a good wax. It didn’t buff off as easily as we would like, but that may be improved by using a second microfibre cloth. GM

C&SC RATING: 6/10

Buy Chipex Miracle Detailer here


Simoniz Tar, Sap & Glue Remover

Tested: the best classic car accessories

Tar and sap remover is a must-have for your car-cleaning kit – but not all solutions are created equal.

We set this product the tough challenge of removing underseal overspray from our test car’s paint and it performed well where rivals had completely failed. A good deal of elbow grease was needed, but it made a fair impression, softening the deposits just enough and allowing us to achieve a decent finish.

Care may be needed with delicate paintwork, however, and it does need to be washed off after application, adding another time-consuming step. A reasonable amount is required, but that’s probably not a problem given how infrequently you’ll need it. A 500ml aerosol is £6.99. GM

C&SC RATING: 7/10

Buy Simoniz Tar, Sap & Glue Remover here

Words: Greg MacLeman, Martin Port, Lizzie Pope


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