Protecting a British Classic – The Land Rover Defender 90
The Land Rover Defender is made to go where no other vehicle has gone before – it’s the epitome of what a capable off-roader should be. With a rugged engine, this tough all-terrain vehicle will pretty much get you wherever you need to be, whatever the weather. Largely unchanged over the 60-year production run it enjoyed, the Defender may be noisy and uncomfortable on-road, basic when it comes to dashboard and interior comforts, and expensive to run and tax, but it was designed to be the stalwart of the farmer, backbone of the industry and the king of the muddy one-track lane. And for its vastly superior prowess in these areas, the Defender has a passionate and dedicated following. And, of course, Like the classic Mini, the Defender is quintessentially British which makes all of us just that little bit more inclined to celebrate its uniqueness!
The owner of this 2016 Defender is both a lover of the model and a car care enthusiast. Consequently, although the Defender is used in the capacity for which it was designed, it is also well cared for. However, keen to make the maintenance work easier, the owner decided to invest in having the Defender professionally detailed to remove scratches and wash swirls before having a protective ceramic coating applied to the paintwork and wheels.
The first step, when the Defender arrived, was to thoroughly decontaminate and clean it.
A true off-roader such as the Defender presents some different challenges to regular vehicles, or even to other SUVs. Designed to drive through relatively high-water levels, the bumpers and bodywork have holes to allow the water to flow through with minimum resistance. The suspension and undercarriage are exposed so they collect dirt easily. All these areas, therefore, have to be thoroughly cleaned to prevent dirty water dripping during the detailing process. – Matt Back, Master Detailer, UF Studio
The owner had already removed the spare wheel from the rear door to allow the area to be fully cleaned and then later, sealed.
The wheel arches and wheels were cleaned first using UF Safe Wheel Cleaner to remove debris.
The wheels were then treated with UF Iron + Fallout Remover to eliminate brake dust particles, the colour change function highlighting the presence of these sharp and harmful elements.
Not surprisingly, the engine bay had collected dirt and this adheres easily to the hot environment where it becomes an oily, grimy mess. Bilt-Hamber Surfex HD was applied to break up the greasy contamination so that it could be rinsed away easily.
Once the bodywork had also been treated with UF Iron + Fallout Remover to eliminate bonded contamination including any stray brake dust particles, the Defender was rinsed before Ultimate Snow Foam was applied.
The foam reaches into difficult to reach areas and the thick formulation means it clings for longer for comprehensive cleaning power.
Once the foam was rinsed away, the Defender was carefully washed using UF Pure Shampoo, keeping a bucket for rinsing the wash mitt separate from the bucket containing the wash solution. This helps prevent dirt removed from the panels being reintroduced. Once clean, the Defender was rinsed again before being given a final, pure water rinse using an Aqua Gleam De-ionising Water Filter. It was then brought into the detailing studio and dried using a BigBoi BlowR Pro touchless car drying system.
The BigBoi really comes into its own on vehicles like this where there are many nooks and crannies to trap water. Powered by twin 1400-watt motors, the warm filtered air ensures any water is chased off panels and out from behind badges, grilles, and other openings. – Matt Back, Master Detailer, UF Studio
The wheels were removed to allow for thorough cleaning, particularly important for Defender as the rear of the rims had many ridges and lines, hard to clean thoroughly whilst still on the vehicle. Removing the wheels also allowed for the suspension components to be comprehensively dried and for the brake calipers to be sealed with a ceramic coating.
The paintwork was inspected under high-intensity lighting and areas in need of particular attention were noted on a Vehicle Appraisal Sheet for reference during the machine polishing stages.
There were some hedge marks along the side of the Defender, characterised by a pattern of closely packed relatively straight scratches. Other than that, there were some wash swirls and also marks on the top of the Defender caused by an attempt to pass under a car park height restriction. – Matt Back, Master Detailer, UF Studio
With two detailers working on the Defender, each with their personal preference for tools, a variety of machine polishers were used to eliminate the blemishes: a FLEX XFE 7-15 150 Roto Random Orbital Polisher and RUPES LHR 15ES both with Meguiar’s Microfibre Cutting Discs were used for the flatter sections.
A FLEX XFE 7-12 80 Roto Random Orbital Polisher was also used to work on narrow areas such as around wheel arches.
The paintwork on the Defender was softer than expected, although, when measured, the depth was relatively thick at around 200 microns. Koch-Chemie H8.02 Heavy Cut was an ideal compound for this situation as it can be worked for a long time to allow the diminishing abrasives to break down sufficiently to provide a gloss finish that required minimal refining. – Matt Back, Master Detailer, UF Studio
Refining the paintwork was achieved using Menzerna Super Finish Plus 3800 with soft finishing pads, bringing the paintwork up to a highly reflective shine. The panels were wiped with Gtechniq Panel Wipe to ensure any polish or clear coat dust residues were removed prior to applying the sealant.
In this instance, the owner had opted to upgrade the coating to Kamikaze Collection ENREI, the flagship coating from this boutique Japanese manufacturer. A two-stage coating, ENREI consists of No.1 Base Coat Primer, which locks on to the clear coat to provide a solid base, while also chemically engineered to have a high affinity for No.2 Top Coat.
This combination ensures a durable protective finish, highly resistant to extremes of pH and providing a slick, hydrophobic barrier that repels dirt & contamination. The method of application has also been designed and perfected through many hours of research to ensure the maximum performance from the coating. In addition, ENREI must be applied with environmental conditions such as humidity and temperature within strict parameters. For all these reasons, ENREI is available only as a service through Kamikaze Collection trained and certified detailers.
Applying the coating to the Defender was an unusual experience compared with other body shapes as it doesn’t follow the lines of a regular vehicle. We had to be circumspect about the path we followed from panel to panel during application to ensure each received the same amount of curing time. – Matt Back, Master Detailer, UF Studio
As well as providing advanced protection from contamination build-up, industrial and environmental fallout, ENREI also provides an incredibly reflective shine.
Whilst ENREI was curing, the wheels were once more thoroughly degreased and cleaned, ensuring all dirt was removed from the crevices.
The wheels and brake calipers were then sprayed with Panel Wipe before being coated with Kamikaze Collection Stance Rim Coat. This provides a hydrophobic barrier that encourages contamination to bead off the surface whilst also repelling brake dust. The treated rim is easier to maintain during the weekly wash – an important factor for the Defender’s owner. To complete the look, the tyres were treated with Gtechniq T2 Tyre Dressing for a natural satin sheen.
Now fully protected against whatever the off and open road can throw at it, this British classic will remain so for may years to come.