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Spring Steeplechase Wrap-Up

I don’t know what you were doing on Saturday, but the Bogarduses, the Masons, the Dyers and a couple of their guests were enjoying what was basically a Division 1 college football tailgate party interrupted by a six to eight horses whizzing by every half hour or so.

Not only did President Tom allow us the use of his rail-side parking spot, but he had a cake delivered to our tent that said “Happy Retirement Donna.” If Tom offers up his spot next year and you’ve never been to this Aiken springtime ritual, you should give it a try. Rumor has it there may be another cake…

Mr. Cobra

Lynn Park knows all there is to know about the Shelby Cobra – he knows where they all are, the best examples of them and how to drive them. We got some face time with the King of Cobra.

25 Years Ago – Spring 1992


Each Spring we print our recommendations for cleaning and caring for your Miata. Since we have eleven thousand new members since last Spring, we wanted to update and reprint our procedures. If you remember last year’s article, skip to the glass and rubber sections which have some changes.

We have found that a genuine sheepskin wash mitten works extremely well for gently cleaning your car’s surface. They are readily available at auto parts stores and hold plenty of water to help float the dirt off the painted surfaces.

Start with a three gallon bucket filled with cool (not cold) water. Add one tablespoon of baby shampoo to the water. Then add one teaspoon of salad oil (yes, that’s salad oil) to the recipe. The salad oil adds some lubricity to your wash mix helping the grit to slide from the surface onto the wash mitt. Drop in your recently laundered sheepskin mitten (wash in nonphosphate based detergent in hot water, rinse twice in hot water and machine dry.)

Place the vehicle in a shady spot, out of direct sunlight (but not under a sap-dripping tree!). Make sure that the body surface is not warm to the touch.

Rinse the car off with copious amounts of cool water from a hose and nozzle, making sure to hit the rocker panels and lower front and rear panels.

Check the water drop formation on the hood to verify your wax protection level. The droplets should mostly form circular shapes with well defined edges. If the water “smears” across the surface, you definitely need to wax the car.

Take your soaped-up sheepskin wash mitten and, starting on the convertible top,. gently wipe down the surface, turning the mitten often. Clean the soft window very gently while rinsing with water, then move to the rest of the car. Occasionally hose off the mitten with a hard stream of water. Then return the mitten to your wash mix for a fresh charge of soap and salad oil. By rinsing the mitten outside of the bucket, none of the car’s dirt will be introduced to your wash mix.

Wipe one quarter of the car at a time and rinse immediately afterward. Soap drying on the paint can cause permanent spotting. Work from the top portions of the car to the lower areas where there is the most dirt. Don’t forget your headlights.

Lightly rinse the mitt, and wipe the wheels and tires down. The brake dust will load up the mitten pretty quickly, but another hard stream of water will rinse it clean.

If you have any tar or bugs to remove, do it now. Use one of the over the counter products or a mixture of 25% Kerosene and 75% water on a cotton terry cloth rag. These areas will need to be re-waxed. For hardened bug and bird dropping stains, try rubbing with a gentle paste of baking soda and water.

For drying, many enthusiasts like to use a chamois or some new-tech cloths (i.e. The Absorber), these work fine. Just make sure to launder them often. Otherwise, find some thirsty, all cotton beach or large bath towels that have been through the wash many times (no lint) for drying the car. Use the same laundering procedure for these towels as was recommended for the wash mitt. We like to start with the glass areas first, before they spot. On the soft rear window, simply blot the water so as not to scratch the surface. Do not rub hard while drying the car this will scratch the paint.

For an alternate drying method, many old-timers like the following trick: Take the nozzle off your hose end, and hold the open end close to the body surface at a shallow angle (almost flat to the surface). Using just a gentle water flow, the surface tension of the water will pull almost all the water off of a well waxed surface, leaving no droplets behind! It is the gazillion tiny drops that a nozzle makes that creates the need to chamois a car off. Try it. It works for most.

Wipe down the door jambs and under the trunk lid (unless these areas require serious cleaning). If you do this at each washing, you will never have to deal with permanent stains in these areas.

Never, under any circumstances, use a “drive through” car wash for your Miata (or any other car if you can avoid it). Even the “brushless” types can scratch your car’s finish and will definitely damage your Miata’s convertible top. Even with a hard top in place, don’t do it.

For small road debris that gets caught in your glass (they do, take a look), use a razor blade held at a very shallow angle to the windshield (nearly flat against the glass) and gently scrape any pieces off. Be careful not to scratch your glass or to cut yourself.

When washing your car, sprinkle some Bon Ami household cleaner on the glass. This cleanser is gentle (“Hasn’t Scratched Yet”) and will remove all the road scum that chemicals can’t get off. Using a wet rag, clean the glass as you would a sink or other surface. Then rinse the glass thoroughly with water, and continue to rinse until all trace of the Bon Ami is off your body surfaces. Do not attempt this with any other brand of household cleaner. They might contain heavy abrasives or bleach.

Touch-up Glass Cleaners
Mix one third white vinegar to two thirds water in a spray bottle.
Mix one ounce of Westley’s Clear Magic to seven ounces of water in a spray bottle.

For either mixture, use old newspapers crumpled up in your hand to wipe the glass clean. Turn frequently until dry. Use a glove if you don’t want your hands to get dirty. Make sure to clean the insides of your glass as well (the plastics in your interior release a gaseous agent as they age. This is why even non-smokers get scum on the inside of the windshield).

To begin with, you do not need a “cleaner”. type wax. Your Miata’s paint should not have any oxidation to “cut down,” so stay clear of these type of waxes. These will leave tiny scratch marks in your paint that reduce its shine. You want a pure polishing wax, such as one of these we have experience with:
Meguiar’s #16 Professional Paste Wax (or any other of this brand that are not “cleaner” types)
Zymol (smells like coconut tanning lotion!) Liquid Glass (way popular with the concours crowd for many years)

Make sure to apply any of these waxes in the shade and that the surface of your Miata is not hot. Use an old t-shirt or other clean cotton rag to apply the wax. Put it on lightly using swirling motions. Polish the wax once it dries to a white haze (except for Zymol: do not let it dry) using a clean cotton rag. Liquid Glass requires two coats.

Follow directions on the can. Turn the rag often and occasionally shake out the waxdust. Use an old toothbrush to get into crevices and joints. Make sure to wax your door jambs, etc.

Waxes generally last about six months. Check your water beading during washes to see where you stand on needing another application. Some members have had great success with Liquid Glass acrylic polish which seemed to last a little longer.

Your Miata’s alloy wheels are painted with a clear coat to keep the aluminum from absorbing stains (as untreated aluminum does). Most reputable aftermarket wheels are clear coated as well. The thing to remember is that this clear coat is similar to the paint on the car’s body and needs special care as well. We have had great success with just the sheepskin mitten used for the regular wash job, but if your custom wheel has intricate details, you may want to use a spray chemical to help things along. We can recommend two products:
Eagle 1 Special Finish Factory Mag Cleaner
P21s Wheel Cleaner

For either of these products, spray them on the wheels BEFORE you get your car wet. If you have some stubborn spots, use an old toothbrush to loosen the dirt. Make sure to thoroughly clean your wheels each time you wash your car, and you can prevent a nasty buildup of brake dust that may never come clean. The brake dust actually contains glue that is used as a bonding agent in the pad manufacturing (like particle board). This glue will set up on your hot wheels and form a permanent stain if not removed every week or so.

We DO NOT RECOMMEND THE USE OF DUST SHIELDS that install behind the wheels and keep the wheels clean of brake dust. They also block airflow that is essential to brake cooling, especially on a sports car. Save them for your dad’s Oldsmobile.

You should treat your tires and weather stripping (around doors and trunk) with some sort of a protectant each time you wash. This is particularly true in Southern California where the bright sun and smog can tear up a car’s rubber in three years. The cheapest way is to apply pure glycerin (available at pharmacies) or silicone to these areas.

There are many silicon based protectants on the market, the most memorable one is “Armor All.” Others include STP’s “Son of a Gun,” Meguiar’s #40, etc. All of them tested out to be the same as far as longevity goes.

We have one rag dedicated to putting protectant on tires. Once a rag is “seasoned” it will not absorb as much protectant. The end result is that you use less protectant, and thus save money. It also serves as a quick “clean-em-up” dust magnet rag for the interior when we do not have time for a complete spray down.

There is a new product on the market call ed “NO TOUCH” which sprays on with a foamy consistency. As its name implies, you do not have to wipe it down. They recommend two initial applications, and we agree the first “coat” will be a little splotchy. After the second coat was seasoned overnight, the appearance was excellent. When tested against the traditional tire treatments, NO TOUCH was found to retain its sheen longer as well. Use it only on your tires.

We suggest wiping down the interior with one of the cotton towels you used to dry the car with, assuming it is still damp and relatively clean. If you have a spot or residue on your vinyl, use a mild soap and water mixture making sure that you rinse the area well.

Use a typical protectant (Meguiar’s #40, Armor All, Son of a Gun) for a final dressing on your interior vinyl surfaces. Use a Q-tip around the switches and knobs of the dashboard.

Special Edition owners should use Lexol cleaner and Lexol treatment for their leather seats.

Your carpet needs to be vacuumed with a strong machine, not the dust-buster variety. There is a lot of sand and small rocks hiding down in the pile of your carpet, and it acts like sandpaper to the fibers. If you have a place to store it, get one of the two horsepower shop vacuums from Sears, and use the crevice tools to get behind and under the seats.

If you develop any carpet stains, first try to rinse them out with a little bit of water on a rag or sponge. If the stain is stubborn, use a mixture of one third Westley’s Clear Magic to two thirds water to gently rub the stain out. This mixture also works well for stains on the Miata’s doth seats.

We have had good luck with Armor All and Meguiar’s #40. However, both of these products will leave a slight residue on your quarter panels after a rain where the product is washed off of the top. Use either product sparingly on the top to reduce this down-washing. Be careful not to lower the top while it is wet or if you have just treated it with a protectant.

Once you have washed the soft rear window and dried it, use Meguiar’s #10 Professional Plastic Polish exactly according to directions to clean up any hazing or scratches. Do not rub hard or you will scratch your window. To reduce usage scratching, never lower your top without unzipping your window first, and lay a cloth towel on the lowered window before laying your top down on it.

After a few thousand miles, your engine compartment may begin to get a little dirty. We recommend using Gunk Spray Engine Cleaner on a cold engine. Follow directions after putting a plastic baggie over the intake snorkel. Don’t neglect this import area of your Miata’s appearance.

Some tips in closing: 1) Do not tailgate (stone chips on your Miata’s nose and chips in your windshield); 2) Do not park under sappy trees; 3) Remove bird droppings immediately, no matter how disgusting; and 4) Repair nicks and scratches immediately (dealers have touch up paint).

Since the Miata is mostly too reliable to tinker with, consign yourself to keeping it clean. Go ahead and spend the few dollars to get the right materials and the job will become a labor of love. It is much easier to keep a new car clean than to reverse even one year of neglect.

Copyright 1992, Miata Magazine. Reprinted without permission.

Aiken Steeplechase

Gates open at 9:00am, Post 1:00pm     Tickets $25 in advance, $40 at the Gate

See Events post for more info and where to buy tickets.

Aiken Steeplechase

Fellow MMC members,

You are all invited to join me at the Aiken Steeplechase event on March 25th, to share my rail spot, #471. The space can accommodate 2 large vehicles, and many people. One vehicle space is already taken, so one large MMC vehicle with all the gear can take the 2nd space.

Entrance tickets are $25/person in advance, $40 at the gate, and Polo Field Parking is $20 in advance, $30 at the gate. I strongly recommend carpooling, not only for the cost savings, but also for the savings in aggravation of sitting in long traffic lines.

Advance tickets may be purchased at the following locations: AikenDrug Company, Aiken Saddlery & Supply, Birds & Butterflies, Floyd & Green, Lominick Pharmacy, Parks Pharmacy, Plum Pudding, Ridgecrest Coffee Bar, Southern Bank & Trust (3 locations), Smithers Insurance (2623 Washington Road, Augusta), Unique Expressions, USC Aiken, H. Odell Weeks Recreation Center, Aiken County Visitor’s Center (Holley Building).

I’ve attached a map that shows how to navigate to the rail spot, # 471, once you are inside the track. Please note that the MMC vehicle must enter the track through the Blue Gate, and that traffic will only be allowed on Powderhouse Road going in the Southbound direction, coming out from downtown. You will not be allowed to drive past the entrance to the Polo Field parking going northbound on Powderhouse from Pine Log Road. Pedestrians may enter the Field from any gate.

The gates open at 9:00 AM, Post Time is 1:00 PM, but you must plan to arrive no later than 11:00 AM to avoid the insane traffic congestion, and earlier is better.

Dennis & Karol Mason have agreed to coordinate attendees, since I am covered up with preparations for the event. Brian & Donna will attend but will be out of town this week so please contact Dennis or Karol to coordinate.

Please let Dennis/Karol know how many in your party are coming, and if you need space in the MMC vehicle for stuff. I will have a 10 x 10 canopy and (2) 6′ tables already setup, but the space will accommodate 2 more tables if need be. Please note that nothing larger than a 10 x 10 canopy is allowed.

Hope to see you there.