BMW ALPINA B3 3.3 Cabrio – A Fitting Finish!
ALPINA is a car manufacturer in its own right but has been partnering with BMW for more than four decades to produce some of the most exclusive, best handling and powerful vehicles available. Combining BMW luxury and innovation with ALPINA’s engineering prowess, these vehicles deliver stunning performance whilst being efficient and keeping the emissions within surprisingly acceptable limits.
Fewer than two thousand vehicles are produced annually, worldwide, making the BMW ALPINA brand one of the most exclusive and, therefore, sought after in the world. ALPINA vehicles share their basic DNA with their BMW counterpart, albeit with that extra flair the ALPINA badge promises.
Based on a E46 3-series BMW, the ALPINA B3 3.3 Cabrio that arrived at UF Studio had been fully restored by its current owner since he acquired it in 2014. Attention had been paid to every detail, including a new set of decals to set off the lines of the car. However, wash swirls were detracting from the vibrancy of the paint colour, now dull and hazy, so the owner decided a 2-Stage Gloss Enhancement was due.
A 2-Stage Gloss Enhancement treatment allows more time to eliminate blemishes detracting from the overall appearance of the car. Stage 1 involves a heavier cutting compound and pad to tackle deeper scratches or stubborn hazing and staining. The second stage is to refine the finish, ensuring a high level of gloss and reflectivity. Customers select their choice of sealant to protect the paintwork and preserve its appearance. – Matt Back, Master Detailer, UF Studio
Wanting a coating developed using the latest innovations in ceramic sealant technology, the ALPINA’s owner selected ENREI, the two-step, state-of-the-art flagship coating from Kamikaze Collection. At the heart of the ceramic coating industry and driven from a desire to engineer sealants which truly deliver something better than available alternatives, Kamikaze Collection has developed ENREI to deliver a superior slickness, hydrophobicity, and contamination repellence, as well as show-winning reflectivity and gloss. As the ‘Ultra’ sealant option, UF Studio guarantees performance for up to 60,000 miles.
The key to a show-winning finish lies not only with the final sealant, but the decontamination and preparation processes too. Using a trolley jack to increase the distance between wheel and arch, a Kranzle K-1152 TST was used to remove loose debris. The wheels and arches were degreased to remove oily residues and diesel splatters.
The wheels were then cleaned using UF Safe Wheel Cleaner to remove surface dirt and contamination.
The pH-balanced wheel wash contains fast-acting cleaning agents that break up bonded dirt.
The wheels and arches are then thoroughly rinsed to ensure all debris is removed.
The wheels, arches and bodywork were treated with UF Iron + Fallout Remover. Containing an active ingredient that breaks down brake dust, UF Iron + Fallout Remover changes colour on contact with ferrous contamination to indicate its presence. When the colour deepens no further, the reaction is spent and the solution, together with the contamination, can be easily rinsed away. Finally, the ALPINA was pre-cleaned using Ultimate Snow Foam to lift remaining dirt and grit away from the surfaces of the car. After being allowed to dwell for several minutes, the solution was rinsed. Ultimate Snow Foam was also used to cover the convertible roof that was then thoroughly rinsed ensuring all detergent residues were removed from the fabric.
Suds have to be removed from the hood otherwise they act as a central point for mildew to form around. Additionally, the roof will be weather proofed at a later stage and you do not want to seal the dried soap flakes into the hood as this will simply store up problems for later. – Matt Back, Master Detailer, UF Studio
The non-contact decontamination stage now completed, the ALPINA could be carefully washed using two buckets to keep the wash solution separate from the rinse water. This helps to prevent dirt removed from the car being reintroduced through reattachment to the mitt.
If you keep a bucket with a Grit Guard with just plain water and use it to rinse the mitt once a section of the car has been cleaned, all the dirt is released into that water. Wring the mitt out, then reload with soapy water in the Wash Bucket and you keep the water in the Wash Bucket clean. It’s a far safer and more effective method of washing a car than using the wash water to rinse the dirty mitt in and it’s one of the first things we teach during our training days. – Matt Back, Master Detailer, UF Studio
After rinsing the suds, an Aqua Gleam De-ionising Water Filter was used to deliver a final pure water rinse. The ALPINA was then brought into the studio, placed on a hydraulic ramp to allow easier access and the wheels were removed for further deep cleaning. A BigBoi BlowR Pro touchless car dryer was used to force water out from the grille, around the wheel and suspension components, and other hard-to-reach areas. Multiple paint depth readings were taken over each panel and the paintwork inspected closely under high-intensity lighting for areas of particular concern. These were noted on a Vehicle Appraisal Sheet for reference during correction stage.
We always recommend taking paint depth readings prior to commencing machine polishing but in this instance, it was even more important than usual as we were conscious the ALPINA had been subject to a respray. This can lead to fluctuations in paint coverage and so we needed to be sure the coverage was relatively uniform. – Matt Back, Master Detailer, UF Studio
The first part of the correction began using a RUPES Medium Green Polishing Pad and Koch-Chemie H8.02 Heavy Cut compound.
On the bonnet, this worked well to eliminate the defects, however for the rest of the car, a more aggressive microfibre pad was required.
The paintwork was exceptionally hard which made eliminating scratches and swirl marks that much tougher. Upgrading to the microfibre pad just gave the compound that little bit more bite. Of course, extra care had to be taken around the decals. We tested a spot first to ensure the colour wasn’t going to be removed if they were polished over. They were colourfast but still, with the aggressive combination of pad and compound, we used extreme caution. – Matt Back, Master Detailer, UF Studio
The grille section popped out to allow both the fins of the grille and the frame to be polished by hand. Using Menzerna Super Finish Plus 3800 and a microfibre cloth, watermarks and staining were removed.
The narrow areas around the grilles were polished using a RUPES BigFoot Nano iBrid, a machine polisher with a small head and a short throw. This allows the polishing action to be concentrated around a smaller area, delivering better results more efficiently than would be achieved using a larger machine with a bigger head and throw.
The refinement stage took place using a 3M PERFECT-IT III High Gloss Polishing Pad and Menzerna 3800.
The ALPINA was wiped with a solution of Gtechniq Panel Wipe to ensure no polish residues remained. No.1 Base Coat Primer was then applied. This penetrates the clear coat, evening out any fluctuations in the uniformity of the lacquer and presenting a layer with a higher affinity for No.2 Top Coat than standard lacquer presents. With the application of No.2 Top Coat, the vehicle’s clear coat is completely sealed, protected from industrial and environmental fallout, with enhanced hydrophobic properties.
ENREI delivers superior protection but its performance lies not only in its engineering but also in the application method. For both No.1 Base Coat Primer and No.2 Top Coat, Kamikaze Collection spent hours researching and testing different ways of applying the layers and removing them to ensure the best possible results. Ambient air temperature and humidity also have to be kept within certain levels and the coatings must be allowed to remain in those conditions until they have hardened. The whole process is fairly complex and exacting, and so for these reasons, ENREI is available only as a service through Kamikaze Collection trained and certified detailer network.
Whilst the coating was curing, the wheel bolt covers were removed from the wheels and the centre caps popped out. This allowed each section to be thoroughly cleaned.
Each section could also then be protected using Kamikaze Collection Stance Rim Coat, a ceramic coating with a high tolerance for heat and extremes of pH.
Whilst the coating was curing on the rims, the interior was vacuumed and the leather dusted with Gtechniq C6 Matte Dash AB, an anti-static cleaner and protector with a persistent anti-bacterial function.
Having been left for two days to dry naturally, the convertible hood was checked for dryness using the BlowR Pro. The hood was then protected using Gtechniq I1 Smart Fabric Coat AB, a hydrophobic fabric sealant that repels water and waterborne contamination. This helps keep the fabric clean and waterproof.
The ALPINA was ready for collection!
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