For an enthusiast, cars is like a representation of who the owner is. For that, it won't be strange that some people pour so much to make sure that person's car is up to their liking. Of course, now there are a lot of places that can help an owner with boosting up their car's appearance if cosmetics and aerokits are not their thing. So there wouldn't be much of an explanation why there are so many detailing shops popping around in Kuala Lumpur. Most of them will offer services from a simple car wash to a full polish with protective glass coating. But what if the owner wants more than a wash and polish?
Some time ago, I made friends with a car owner who's car is yet to be featured. Yes, he has quite a collection himself but it was how well groomed his cars looked despite frequently taking a beating on the track. So for that, he invited me to meet his friend, Darren who runs a detailing shop somewhere out in Petaling Jaya. At first, I expected the place to be just like any other detailer in a high-end shop lot. Apparently, I was very wrong. As I entered the facility, the place gave a vibe that was similar to Batman's cave. It's just that between the bare concrete, there were a healthy amount of supercars that looked car show ready lined up everywhere.
Despite the overwhelming sight and scale of the facility, Auto Detailer started with some very humble beginnings. Darren first opened his detailing shop about 12 years a go in an underground church car park. After a good 6 years running, Darren invested and moved his family run business to the current location here in PJ. What really got his shop known by the industry is how particular Darren is when it comes to the quality of detailing work that is done on a customer's car.
For starters, in order to have the best result, Darren has to choose the best products for his detailing. The product one would see lined up on shelves around the shop are bottles of coating products from Mirka. It was understood that this is the same product that is used for paint finishing at a number of luxury car makes like Mercedes Benz. A good high end detailing job here for one car here will take an average of one to two weeks.
However in this shop, it is more than just car washes and polish. At Auto Detailer, it can go as far as a full on restoration for any car. Throughout the time, Darren has received many clients with long kept classic cars, some that have been kept for decades. With their expertise on things like paint finishes and upholstery, they are capable to flip a rusted old car to look like as if it was just picked up like it was brand new from the dealership. This classic Alfa Romeo GTV is a perfect example to their restoration work with every piece of detail intact.
Among some of the more common requests from clients is for paint protection wraps. Mostly requested for brand new cars. Throughout my brief time shooting cars, I have came across many wrapped car. Sometimes, they do look cool while other times I find them a bit hideous, especially if the workmanship is a bit flawed. However, at this place, they go to great length just to make sure their wrap work look like as if it was just paint. For example, most sticker wrappers will cut their material according to a template of the car which roughly only covers 90% of the car. But here, every car is custom cut and wrapped to cover 100% so there will be no seams visible on the body. For the case of the orange Porsche 911 GT3RS, it will take two weeks to complete its paint protection wrap.
When it comes to body paint, some might take it as a pretty simple thing. But when dealing with high end makes like Bentley and Aston Martin, paint treatment can be anything but simple. For those who don't know, paint formulas for some luxury marques can be complicated and sometimes ridiculous making a simple task of repainting a car to become very tedious. So when it comes to the task of repainting, the shop would usually do an evaluation with ultrasound to measure the paint thickness. Once done, the car will be sanded to bare steel before to be painted the colour of choice according to manufacturer specs. But for Darren's clients, he will take it up a notch to make sure the finishing is better than the manufacturer. With these kinds of requirements, it will take a good two to three months for a paint job.
When some might find these standards just mind blowing, as you take time to step into an enthusiast's mind, I would perfectly understand the reasons behind it. When you love cars too much, you would only want the best for it. Darren who is a gearhead himself would only deliver the level that he would want his car to be treated which is the best. For being an enthusiast myself, I can't help to envy the amount of books and automotive memorabilia all over the shop. This makes my Super Street Magazine collection look like child's play.But when you want the best treatment for your car, you got to find the like-minded person to help you achieve that.