Porsche 911 GT3 – Born In Flacht, Restored At Brands Hatch
Flacht – the home of Porsche Motorsport, the place where the racetrack meets the road to deliver cars that set pulses skyrocketing. The 911 GT3 is no exception as part of a 4 car line-up which includes the GT3 RS and 2 race cars (GT3 Cup and GT3 RSR).
As such, the GT3 delivers the full, all round, visceral 911 experience. The naturally aspirated 3.6-litre, short-stroke, dry-sump boxer six engine now revs to a maximum of 8400rpm, and delivers 409bhp at 7600rpm. That translates to 114bhp per litre and makes it almost as powerful as the twin-turbo 3.6 fitted to the 996 Turbo. The new VarioCam adjusts the intake cam timing, improving the spread of torque through the revs. The 997 GT3 is not a car to be sneezed or twitched at!
Not that there’s much twitching going on with the 997 GT3, where both the flexural and torsional rigidity has been improved over that found in the 996 GT3. Also new is the active damping and traction control, where a firmer setting is now selectable for the track days this car was undeniably built around. That said, the suspension is adaptable enough to make regular journeys quite comfortable and the engine is efficient enough that at sensible driving speeds, long haul it delivers a rather respectable mpg figure, most unexpected perhaps of a near-homologation vehicle.
The owner of this Gen 1 997 GT3 delivered his car to UF’s Brands Hatch Detailing Studio for a Gloss Enhancement Treatment, as the weekly wash process along with general usage had left the silver paintwork dulled and tired looking. The factory applied paint protection film (PPF) on the rear quarters had started to turn yellow, marring the overall appearance of the car and needed to be replaced. The lacquer on all four alloy wheels was peeling and contamination had resulted in surface pitting, so after consultation with the owner, it was decided to fully refurbish them.
After refurbishing, the wheels would require ceramic protection to help prevent future tar and brake dust build-up. Additionally, the driver’s seat bolster needed refreshing as constant rubbing against the leather had caused abrasion marks. So, the leather and Alcantara interior would be cleaned and restored before being protected with an abrasion resistant coating to help prevent UV fading.
First, the GT3 needed to be fully decontaminated and cleaned.
Due to the low profile of the GT3, in order to fully clean under the wheel arches and sills, the car needed to be raised.
Wheel arches act as natural traps for mud and grime, so it’s vital to get right in with a cleaner and brushes to ensure it’s all removed. As the whole chassis is rigid, the car needed to be jacked from the front and then from the rear, as lifting from the side caused three wheels to come off the ground! – Matt Back, UF Detailing Studio
The wheel arches were degreased using a solution of Bilt-Hamber Surfex HD, a water-based cleaner which easily breaks down oily grime and organic contamination. After being allowed to dwell for a few minutes, the areas were cleaned using Wheel Woolies. This solution was also applied to the bonnet, boot and door shuts, and the catches were cleaned using a detailing brush to ensure all grease and dirt deposits were loosened. Surfex HD was then rinsed away with a carefully using a Kranzle pressure washer.
The wheel arches and sills both had heavy tar deposits.
Tar is highly adhesive, particularly so when it is hot. As it cools it forms a strong bond with the bodywork. Although these deposits can usually be removed using a wash mitt, the amount of rubbing back and forth required will put swirl marks into most paintwork finishes. They can also be removed using a clay bar but again, this type of contact method of removal increases the chances of damaging the paintwork. Instead, I used a non-contact product that could be sprayed on and, after a short period of dwelling, the product breaks down the sticky bonds. The contamination can then be rinsed away without incurring any damage. This type of de-taring is much easier too for harder to reach areas such as wheel arches, where it can be tricky trying to operate in tight areas. – Matt Back, UF Detailing Studio
The GT3 was treated with Gtechniq W6 Iron & General Fallout Remover. This contains an active ingredient that changes colour on contact with ferrous contamination, acting on the particles and forcing them to break the bond with the bodywork. When the colour has changed to a deep purple, the reaction is complete. The solution can then be rinsed away without risk of scratching the paintwork with sharp, dislodged particles of the shredded brake pads.
The bodywork was still showing tree sap and bug deposits, both of which cause the surface to be uneven and can also etch into the clearcoat if left in situ.
Tree sap and bug squash are highly astringent, so if they’re not removed they can cause pitting. For a car to look glossy, the surface has to be as smooth as glass, so every particle of contamination must be removed as not only does it have the potential to damage the paint, but it will also adversely affect the final finish. Again, a non-contact product was used to eliminate these elements. In this instance, the contamination was such that after treatment there were a few spots still remaining which required removal using a denibbing tool. – Matt Back, UF Detailing Studio
The bodywork was then pre-washed with Ultimate Snow Foam, the thick foam clinging even to the vertical panels, lifting larger particles of dirt and grit away from the surface of the bodywork.
The foam encapsulates the contamination and allows it to be easily rinsed away. This phase marked the end of the decontamination process and the car was now ready for the main wash. This was conducted using the Two Bucket Method. Wash water and rinse water are kept in separate buckets, both of which contain Grit Guards. The mitt is loaded with soapy water from the Wash Bucket, a section of the car washed and then the mitt is rinsed in the pure water Rinse Bucket, the wash mitt brushed across the Grit Guard to dislodge particles of dirt. After wringing the water from the mitt, it is dunked back into the Wash Bucket, and the process repeated until the car is clean. The soapy suds are then rinsed off the vehicle using a pressure washer before an Aqua Gleam De-ionising Water Filter is attached in-line with a hose to deliver a final, pure water rinse. The car is then dried using highly absorbent, ultra-soft microfibre towels.
Once the GT3 was brought into the studio, it was raised on a ramp, the wheels removed and sent away for refurbishing.
Then, the nooks and crannies, around grilles, air intakes and badges were dried with an air blower, forcing any trapped water out so as to prevent it interfering with the application of the ceramic coating.
Many ceramic coatings have an aversion to water – part of their appeal is their hydrophobic nature. However, this feature can be problematic should the water encounter the coating during application. As such, ensuring all the water left over from the final rinse has been forced out of every crevice is an essential step. – Matt Back, UF Detailing Studio
With the GT3 now completely dry, the yellowed paint protection film (PPF) was removed.
Close inspection of the paintwork under high-intensity lighting revealed a proliferation of swirls and random deep scratches (RDS) in the paintwork. To eliminate these defects, a RUPES BigFoot LHR12E Duetto Random Orbital Polisher was used with a RUPES Yellow Polishing Pad and, initially, Menzerna Medium Cut Polish 2400.
Menzerna is a German manufacturer of compounds and polishes, and typically, they’re perfect for working on scratch resistant paint finishes such as is usually found on Porsches. However, in this instance, the paintwork was slightly ‘sticky’, and using 2400 made the surface grab the pad. I then switched to RUPES UHS Easy Gloss Compound but found it wasn’t acting as quickly as required on the deeper scratches. Mixing 2400 with the UHS Compound gave me the lubricity needed and using a speed setting of 4 on a Duetto gave me the cutting action I was looking for. – Matt Back, UF Detailing Studio
The spoiler and inside the air intakes also needed polishing, but the smaller surface area required a RUPES BigFoot LHR75E Mini Random Orbital Polisher which has a shorter throw. This allows for a more concentrated action over a central point, delivering better results quicker than using a polisher with a standard throw.
With the paintwork corrected, Gtechniq Panel Wipe was used to ensure all the surfaces were free from polish or silicone residues which might interfere with the coating bonding to the substrate. Then, Gtechniq’s flagship sealant, Crystal Serum was applied.
Crystal Serum (CS) is Gtechniq’s most advanced coating. Based on nanotechnology, CS is applied in a single layer but as it cures, it becomes a two-layer system. The lower layer cures slightly softer, the better to flex under pressure. The upper layer cures harder, the better to withstand swirls. Together, they provide a durable, swirl resistant surface that repels water, dirt and oils, protecting the car’s clearcoat from environmental and industrial fallout. Once cured, the coating is virtually impervious to extremes of pH such as is found in many car cleaning products and on dirty, diesel splattered roads. Gtechniq is so confident in the performance of Crystal Serum, they guarantee it for seven years. To be fully effective, CS must be applied in tightly controlled conditions, with relative humidity and the ambient temperature kept within optimum ranges. As a result, CS is available only as a service through Gtechniq-approved detailers.
Whilst CS was curing, attention turned to the car’s interior. The leather areas on the seats were first cleaned using Colourlock Mild Leather Cleaner to remove surface dirt and grime, and a leather brush to penetrate the cleaning foam into the grain. With the leather clean, it was then degreased using Leather Cleaning Spirit, removing traces of body oils and remnants of old leather creams. The faded areas were sanded down with a gentle sanding pad to give the area a uniform texture, the better to evenly absorb the new colour. The black leather dye was then loaded into the air gun and sprayed onto the faded area, the edges blended to match seamlessly with the original colour.
The dye was then allowed to dry for several hours before all the leather was protected with Colourlock Leather Shield. This spray-on coating protects the leather from staining through accidental spillages and is also abrasion resistant, to help prevent further ‘rubbing’ damage. Leather Shield also contains UV inhibitors to limit the drying and fading effect from the sun.
A Tornador Black Z-020 with a 4:1 solution of Meguiar’s Super Degreaser Plus was used to clean the Alcantara sections of seats, handbrake surrounds and steering wheel trim.
The Tornador is a powerful cleaning tool which connects to a compressed air line and uses pressure and a pulse cleaning mode to drive ingrained dirt out of fibres. After the solution is applied, selecting ‘dry’ mode switches the solution off and uses the air to draw the solution and the dirt out of the fibres, aiding the drying process. This handy tool can be used to clean tight areas on any surface so can also be used around exterior badges, trim and to clean between the intricate designs found on some alloy wheels.
Prior to refitting, the wheels and calipers were cleaned using Panel Wipe and then coated front and back with Gtechniq C5 Alloy Wheel Armour.
Wheel Armour lays down a heat resistant barrier that will not burn off when the wheels and calipers heat up. Treated surfaces repel water, dirt, grime and oils as well as being more resistant to harmful brake dust build-up. This negates the need for astringent wheel cleaners and makes the weekly wash much easier.
Once Crystal Serum had cured, new paint protection film (PPF) was applied to the rear quarters. PPF is supplied pre-cut to the specifications of the vehicle to which it is to be applied. Initially, a soapy wash is applied to the areas of the car to be covered. The PPF is also wetted to aid the removal of the backing and then the film is lined up correctly on the car.
Using a silicone smoothing tool to remove trapped air, the film is fitted to be perfectly flush with the paintwork.
With the transformation complete, the GT3 was ready for its next outing, safe in the knowledge that not only was it protected against whatever the road could throw at it, but also that it looked as good, if not better than the day it left the factory.
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