Car Culture / Events / Garage Life

Blood, Sweat, And Wax – The Story Of Our Award-Winning Lamborghini Islero w/Video

As many of you may already assume, there is really no time of the year when we at Griot’s Garage aren’t prepping for or attending car shows all over the country. While all of them are awesome, some of them stick out due to the level of perceived significance within our hobby. The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is one such event.

It is an incredibly wonderful event with some of the most significant cars in the world on display for all attendees to drool over. So when we got an invitation to bring out our 1968 Lamborghini Islero, we were thrilled. That excitement eventually led to the reality that we were going to have to go all out to make sure the car showed up perfect and represented us well.

Our particular Islero had undergone an extensive restoration about 8 years ago and was already in very, very good condition but we knew we had to get it perfect. The car was restored to almost factory specs although we did take a few liberties, the largest of which was a color change to black from the original Azzurro (light) blue. The Islero’s razor sharp body lines absolutely stun in black and it really doesn’t matter to us that we changed the color, we believe that we did the design justice by accentuating what is generally thought of as a pretty tame design, for a Lamborghini. But as you all are acutely aware of, black shows everything so we needed it to be flawless. Our team set off to detail every inch of the car to perfection using a three-step process and our BOSS line of orbitals and creams. Two full days later, we had a beautiful, dare I say perfect, paint finish. You can see the entire process in the video below.

Once the procedure was complete, there was only one problem, we still had to get the car to Amelia Island, a cool 3,005 miles from our Tacoma, Washington headquarters. Luckily for us, we know some good truck drivers and the shipping went off without a hitch. However, the show was still two days away and we needed to keep the finish pristine for two days in the pollen heavy, humid sea air that is typical of mid-March in Florida. We had multiple forms of covers but due to the high winds, we opted not to cover the car the night before the event (this was a tough call, but it’s the choice we made). Our plan was to show up two hours before judging, do a quick wipe down, and relax. But of course, it didn’t go that way….

One of the downsides of a black car is that it shows every flaw imaginable. Combine that with a hyper flat and sharp body design and minor flaws turn into major problems. What was supposed to be a minor clean up became an exercise in extreme caution and the most gut-wrenching and stressful show prep I’ve ever been a part of. We got dusted with tons of pollen as a result of our car cover decision and had to do two wipe downs. One to get rid of the first layer of pollen and another to actually enhance the finish. All of this knowing that every time we put a towel on this perfect paint, we ran the risk of introducing swirl marks to a swirl-free finish. That process ended up taking 1.5 hours and was left primarily to my brother and myself while my dad focused on the windows. In the last half an hour my brother and I were on our stomachs, backs, hands and knees poring over the wheels, tires and even Speed Shining the wheel wells. While I presumed this would be a cake walk, it was one of the most stressful detailing jobs I’ve ever done. How can you improve a perfect finish? The answer is you can’t, you can only make it worse.

Thankfully, we were meticulous and cautious and took our time, it also helps to have great towels and extremely safe cleaners to prevent the finish from damage. But it is still crazy to think that what should have been a five-minute job turned into a two-hour marathon. I do not envy the detailers that make their money doing concours prep, it is tremendously stressful and tedious.

For all of the worry and obsessive care we took to ensure the Islero was perfect, it ended up paying off. We were rewarded with Best in Class against some decidedly stiff and significant competition and it was all worth it. I think my brother and I drank our first Stella Artois beers at 11:30 a.m. after the ribbon had been placed on the car and we even got to meet Valentino Balboni, who tested these cars when new. He pointed out all the liberties we took in the restoration but even he concluded that the car was “bella.”

Never again will I take that process for granted and never again will I doubt the dedication it takes to prep a show-winning car. The car not only won its class but ran great and made it home safely, only to be wiped down once more without a single scratch imparted. I’m sure I’ll end up doing this again, as it is my passion and it feels great to compete and to win, but I am thankful that I get a little bit of a break before the next concours invites us back on the lawn.

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