The word "Concours" is French meaning a parade, show or competition. The earliest use of the term "Concours d'Elegance" in connection with motor vehicles was believed to be around 1900, although Concours d'Elegance events similar to present day events commenced in England around 1910. The guidelines for standard of appearance were set before the First World War but over the years have been enlarged upon to be the standard for events held World Wide; also the title has gradually been shortened to just "Concours".
Preparation for an event like this is not just about cleaning the bodywork and the bits that show, but can be taken to a higher degree of skill, which can only be learnt over a number of years. If you are starting from scratch then it will take, depending on the condition of your car, anything up to three years and beyond before you get to a National Elite Class standard. Do not be put off; this cleaning lark gets quite addictive once you see the results of your hard work.
It is always advisable to arrive at an event a good couple of hours before judging is to commence, that will then give you time to do the final preparation without any undue haste. It is worth noting that the day of the Concours is for the final preparation and not as some people assume, the day you start cleaning.
Start by washing the bodywork of your car including wheels and wheel archers (this is best done with the wheels removed) the inner edges of wheel arches should be clean enough in order that any white gloves the judges may be wearing do not get dirty. While the wheels are off shampoo and polish their insides as well as outside including wheel nut recesses.
While the wheels are off the car, clean the suspension, axle, brake and fuel pipes, brake callipers and all necessary fitting clips.
Clean and polish all door shuts including hinges and catches, remove door seal rubbers if possible, and clean around the fitting area then refit. Remove all lights and the radiator grilles, clean all individual items front and back also fitting areas, fitting new screws and clips as necessary (as original) then refit. Always keep in mind that the car must be as original as the day it was produced.
Make sure all door shuts, boot lid and bonnet gaps are equal; make sure that there is no polish residue left around the edges of these. If a sunroof is fitted, open it, and clean all components and channels. Make sure that all glass is clean, inside and out, always drop the door windows to clean the top edges of the glass, as this, will be checked by the judges.
After all the above detailing has been done then prepare your car for Concours. Polish the bodywork including the bumpers, spoilers etc.; also clean around the number plates, if you can, taking them off and cleaning behind them (it is surprising how dirty this area is even on the newest of cars) and if fitted do not forget to clean and polish both sides of the mud flaps.
DO NOT BE PUT OFF BY THE ABOVE – it gets addictive, but always remember these events are meant to be enjoyed and always make conversation with other entrants to get each other’s views on car preparation.