After a summer of fun with the Lotus, I decided to organise an autumn event for local Lotus owners. An early Sunday morning with some breakfast at the fabulous 57 Bridgestreet in USK.
Paint Protection Film – Xpel Ultimate Plus with Auto Protek
I previously owned a gun metal grey Aston Martin Vantage, a colour that beautifully shows the perfect contours of the car, but unfortunately showed every stone chip and light swirl mark. The chips across the entire frontend were a constant source of irritation and spoilt my impression of the car. My simplistic but expensive resolution was to have the entire frontend resprayed, not once but on three occasions during the time I owned the car. Unfortunately, however, as we all know it doesn’t take long to pick up the next stone chip and your pride and joy is yet again tarnished.
All Aston Martin Vantage models have Armourfend on the rear haunches as these attract a lot of stone chips. On purchasing the car, I had these guards removed, the haunches re-painted and larger patches of Armourfend applied. It didn’t occur to me this could be done to the whole frontend at the time, otherwise I would have had Paint Protection Film (PPF) applied to the car at the point of purchase.
With the Bond Exige, I intended to have PPF from day one, before it even went on the road. So rather than driving the car out of the Newtown Motors showroom, the car went straight on a trailer to a company to apply the PPF.
How did I choose the Paint Protection Film PPF
Obviously, lots of research initially through checking out on conversions in on-line forums where owners had used PPF on their cars. The opinions seemed to change dramatically over the years as the products improved. YouTube was also a valuable source of clips from companies applying PPF to cars and whilst they usually exalted the product of their preferred supplier, some companies did very useful comparisons.
Products have progressed significantly, improving their application, clarity, longevity and features. One of the most amazing features is self-healing film which was a complete revelation. The key points to consider were:
Paint Protection Film application process
The workshop needs the right environmental conditions for lighting, temperature, ventilation and space to work around the car.
Provision of templates
The film manufacturers provide pattern templates for most car models used by the companies applying the film. However, newer models or exclusive editions often don’t have a pattern and therefore required some skilled modification. This was the case for the 410, as it required a modified Cup 430 template.
Thickness is obviously important with all the top products less than a millimetre, and only two manufacturers offering self-healing products at the time in 2018.
Clarity and guarantee
The key improvement over time is the clarity. This seems to have reached a point where all the leading manufacturers had a product at the top of their range considered good enough to show a car. A few products offer UV protection to the paint which was important to me with such an exclusive colour. Finally, the length of guarantee was important, with the best products offering 10 years.
PPF Product comparison
There were three clear market leaders 3M, Xpel and SunTek and the decision at the time was:
3M appeared to be the market leader, but there are many questions on the on-line forums about how it looked over time, which I think were historic legacy of earlier products. Nevertheless, it made me feel uncomfortable.
SunTek had previously been known as the concours product for its clarity.
Xpel had a wide range of products the top of the range being self-healing. The quality in terms of clarity with their latest product was equal to SunTek.
Therefore, I decided on Xpel, as it was self-healing, had a 10-year guarantee and offered show quality clarity.
External link to: Xpel Ultimate Plus
Choosing a company to apply the Paint Protection Film
Finally, I set about finding a supplier. I spoke to five companies directly and selected three to visit. The first wasn’t keen to meet, perhaps unsure about the scrutiny of their premises. The next was the other end of the scale, as in the very top end, Topaz. They allowed me to visit their Bristol workshop, which looked more like a division of NASA. Hugely impressive but inevitably the cost was at the top end of my budget. Whilst I felt it was value for money, I was concern about the possible additional and uncapped costs due to the modifications that might be needed for the PPF pattern.
This brought me to Auto Protek near Ascot, who had been happy to talk at length on the phone, not only answering my questions but helping to inform and educate my product knowledge. The morning I arrived at their workshop, there was a Rolls Royce and newly launched McLaren Senna! I got the usual demonstration of the Xpel product which involved scratching a panel with a wire brush then heating to remove the scratches before your eyes. I have to say this is impressive every time I see it.
I decided to proceed with Auto Protek and they did not disappoint! I would strongly recommend them for their service, expertise and workmanship.
Considering how much they had looked after my car, giving a final detail and fixing some minor issues, I gave them a big box of chocolates (as well as paying the fee, of course!). The owner said that was the first time anyone had said thank you like that!
What has Paint Protection Film been like?
The Xpel Ultimate Plus product has been a revelation during the first year on the Exige and I have been hugely impressed for several reasons:
You just can’t see the film from any angle; no colour, saturation or hue difference between the body work under film and those areas uncovered.
You can see the edges once they have been pointed out to you or you know where to look. However, the vast majority of people don’t know the car is covered in PPF.
No stone chips or marks
Very impressively, there are no stone chips, or even visible marks on the PPF. Clearly, the film is remarkable at self-healing.
Has protected against what looks like mastic
There was a small smattering of horrible plastic looking mess on an area of the rear wheel haunch, which I had to pick off the PPF. It took time to removed, but to my relief the PPF was completely unmarked.
So easy to keep clean
This has been another plus! Realising how easy it is to wash any dirt, bird droppings, grime or flies off the car. The car looks immaculate every time.
Overall, I am hugely impressed. I strongly recommend Xpel Ultimate Plus and Auto Protek. A great quality product and a great quality service, thank you both for taking care of my pride and joy.
External link to: Auto Protek