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Here’s What It Takes to Detail a Multi-Million-Dollar, Race-Driven Formula 1 Car

Watch AMMO NYC team up with McLaren Boston to clean and detail David Coulthard's MP4-19B from the 2004 season.

Detailing your own ride can be a tedious and back-breaking process, especially if you want to make sure it’s done right. But what is it like to detail a Formula 1 race car? Car cleaning guru Larry Kosilla of AMMO NYC took up the task with McLaren Boston and recorded it all, uploading the McLaren MP4-19B race car’s special treatment to YouTube for us to ogle at.

At first, you’d think that it’s not too hard given that there isn’t much surface area of a Formula 1 car, at least when compared to the types of road-going production vehicles people drive today. However, it’s actually the opposite because most of the process is done completely by hand with a delicate touch.

The process starts off with a traditional cleaning but instead of using good ‘ol car wash soap and a hose, they use a special hose-less cleaning foam to get all of the initial dirt and grime off. Once initially cleaned, all of the car’s true imperfections revealed themselves. Unlike a traditional car exterior makeover, you can’t just wash, rinse, dry, clay bar the exterior, then finish off with a few coats of paint correction compound, polish and wax.

For instance, one has to remember that the paint isn’t very thick on the body panels of a Formula 1 car, all in great effort to save weight. So one of the biggest challenges to detailing the MP4-19B is trying to compound and polish up the panels without burning any paint off the famous livery. Also, as with any detailing process, one has to take a very fine approach to testing small areas before continuing to the rest of the car. Given the fragility of the paint, this approach requires even more attention, compounding the amount of time one must dedicate to completing the process.

Additionally, because of the thin paint, there was a lot of wear and tear on the panels from when David Coulthard raced the car during the 2004 season. As a result, in order to be brought up to show quality, a lot of paint correction was needed.

A long process indeed, but completely worth all the effort. Check out the video below.