When you buy a new car, the considerations for taking care of it are enormous. If it’s something special in the sense that it’s an exotic or a rare performance car, or even if it’s just special to you, the need to protect your investment and pride is an ongoing concern.
The main area for which this applies is paint and interior protection. It’s also one of the most confusing, cluttered and utterly competitive segments in the auto industry. If you thought car companies were competitive, you should meet the guys who sell paint protection.
Everyone from the car dealers to your down-the-road detailer will tell you their product is the best. The majority of dealers simply outsource their work and earn good margins. Taking up the dealer offer for paint protection can be a huge waste of hard earned cash, or a very good investment depending on who they use. It makes sense to do your own research.
The problem is, everyone claims superiority and yet the difference between the coatings, as we discovered, is massive.
When it became pretty obvious to me that my Aston Martin Vantage and Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG spent about 95 per cent of each month sitting still, then going to a club event, track day or something similar, where they needed to look immaculate, keeping them clean was getting rather frustrating.
When I first bought the Aston, a different paint protection was applied to the car, which did a pretty reasonable job of keeping dirt off, for a while. But it never really had any shine to it and after about two to three months, the coating was all but gone and it all went back to square one where the car was being washed every week to keep it looking respectable.
After a while, this became a bit of a chore and I started looking into something that would actually work long-term, a product that would give the car a gloss finish that lasted more than a few weeks.
In my research, I found products costing upwards of $4,000. Others cost $500 and promised the same results. It became exhaustive and evident that no claims are ever actually put to the test and every product seems to say whatever it wishes without much serious contention. The ACCC or other such bodies have absolutely no interest in looking into this industry and that has resulted in a lot of snake oil being sold.
But after much research and talking to others that have faced similar problems, one product that is attracting a lot of high-end cars is Pomponazzi. A rather odd name, we admit, but one taken from 15th century Italian philosopher and medical scientist Pietro Pomponazzi.
A number of the cars in the Brisbane supercar club had the coating applied and the results were impressive. Always glossy and hardly ever holding on to dirt, it made me consider the idea further.
The South Korean product claims to be the world’s number one real quartz coating. It’s a true glass coating which the company claims adds up to 8-20 microns (depending on car size) to the paint per 50ml bottle and at least one full bottle is used per car (Opti-Coat Pro coatings use 15ml total per car). Opti-Coat Pro advertise a thickness of 2 micron. A standard paint is around 80-100 microns depending on the manufacturer. We cannot validate the claim of either company, but hope to do a direct comparison test in the near future.
It’s not cheap. Let’s make that abundantly clear. There are two products: the 880x and 880xx but realistically, if you were going to spend from $1500-$2000 on paint protection, you’d go for the more high-end one for a little more.
To be perfectly fair, we were extremely hesitant and very much suspicious of Pomponazzi’s claims. After all, the idea of a paint protection with a five-year warranty and all its associated claims seems somewhat ridiculous considering other well-known products on the market we have previously tried couldn’t last even three months.
So much so that our detailer, who we use for all our own cars and press vehicles in Brisbane, warned us that it’s a scam. That it’s no different to the $500 coating he had previously done on the Aston. Nonetheless, for the sake of science, large sums of money were placed down and the Aston was coated, followed a few months later by the SLS.
The process takes at least two full days. To be done properly, the paint first needs to be corrected, and in case you’re thinking that’s a terrible idea on high-end or brand new cars, you’d be surprised. This includes a deep washing, decontamination, buffing and polishing, then another wash to remove the toxins and purify the paint ready for the coating application.
Pomponazzi’s General Manager & Lead Applicator, Peter Hurman, told us that even brand new Bentleys, Ferraris and Lamborghinis have issues with their paint that has either come from the factory or been caused during transport.
For Porsche fans out there who want yet another thing to gloat about, you’d be pleased to know Hurman admitted the only brand that needs minimal, if no, paint correction from the factory is Porsche.
Once the paint has been corrected, the Pomponazzi coating is applied. When the chemicals inside the bottle are mixed, there is a window of about four hours to apply the protectant before it hardens and turns into crystals.
Once the glass coating has been applied, it is then baked onto the car using multiple infrared lamps for around three to four hours.
So we came back after a few days to retrieve the coated Vantage and, well, first impressions were rather hard to describe. Being bright orange, the Aston had gone from what was – we thought – a rather nice orange to a shiny, highly reflective colour. So much so that when it was parked in its usual storage location (that’s a fancy way of saying my mum’s house) both my parents asked if the car had been resprayed.
The difference was night and day, the new shine was as if the car had gone back to the factory and been given a brand new lease on life.
Of course, that’s all well and good on day one. The real question is, how did it last long term?
It has now been more than six months since the Pomponazzi application on the Aston the car has been washed only three times. It simply doesn’t collect dirt. It sits most of the time in an open garage, and without a cover (I know, I know). It has been rained on a dozen times and each time the water just runs off like some type of voodoo magic.
Here is a photo of my Vantage next to the DB11 we recently tested, both had been sitting outside during some heavy rain. Notice the lack of water build up within minutes of the rain stopping compared to the uncoated DB11?
On the odd occasion, we had some water spots on the roof which have apparently been caused by the small amounts of impurities in the water that had dried, a few spots of alcohol on a microfiber cloth have fixed that, no problems.
The results were so impressive that I decided to also coat the SLS, which although now glows like its permanently just been waxed, doesn't have the same wow factor you get from a bright car that has had the treatment. Either way, it is yet to be washed since application four weeks ago and it looks as though it hasn't got a mark on it.
It’s still very early days to say the coating will last five years, however, early signs for both the exterior and interior are promising and we will continue to update this story as time progresses. The only part of the car which the coating seems to not work as well are the wheels, which still collect enough brake dust to be annoying. Though far less than before.
The company does suggest washing the car with the products supplied, to continue to give it that much needed glow. It will also reapply the product when needed within the warranty period.
We contacted and talked to other owners who have had their car Pomponazzi-coated for a number of years and so far everything we’ve managed to dig up and find has been positive.
Since Pomponazzi started in Australia around two years ago (it has been going worldwide since 2002), the company has coated around 300 vehicles, of which at least 80 have been what we would classify as supercars. The product is available through authorised applicators in all states and territories bar Tasmania and Northern Territory (for now).
Like all things in life, you get what you pay for and although there are indeed more expensive products out there (such as Kamikaze), our experience with Pomponazzi has so far been very positive.
Oh and even Vladimir Putin has had his fleet of cars coated, including his Mercedes Benz S600 Guard B7, a V12 Bulletproof armoured luxury sedan. The request was made due to the agency requiring “A degree of shine to match the authority and status of the Russian Prime Minister”. Yep...
Check out the gallery for a ton of pics on the application process the SLS went through and the Pomponazzi website for more details.