Project Beast: Auto Genie Valet

With the Summer spa service sorted, and Project Beast running better than ever, it seemed an appropriate time to get it looking better than ever – with a little help from The Auto Genie; the pro-valeting, ex-racing, car-loving Stuart Staples.

The equally knowledgable and charming man mountain Stu gave our old Project P38 a proper “jush-up,” shaving the years off the old gal in a day’s hard graft using expert valeting magic. And his promise to us on our newer, faster, sexier Project Beast L322 was to “take at least five years off her” using his skills and endless boxes of tricks, valeters’ toys and tools.


And boy, did the now almost 10-year-old Rangey need it!

She’s tidy, for sure. But no big car – no matter how carefully owned (and Project Beast has been with me and certainly was by its one careful previous owner) – can escape the odd car park dent, let alone ‘keying’ as some lovely chap did to me the week after I got the Rangey. Nice eh?

From a distance, and when cleaned-up, Project Beast looks well smart. But, a closer inspection – when the harsh Summer sun is glaring – reveals tons of swirl marks, scratches and a very flat, lifeless looking Java Black paint job, which should be marvellously metallic.

Enter The Auto Genie… who (after an initial inspection and report back concurring the above and more, in valeter’s deep OCD detail that quickly goes over my head) starts promptly at 9am, following a good caffeine kick start from the Gaggia.

Big Stu sets to work surrounded by his van-load of top notch (not on sale to the s**t-munching public) products on the massive Range Rover – a vehicle which takes a good hour just to wash and shammy in my unskilled hands, or more like 2-3 hours in Stu’s careful mitts, using his heavy jet wash, two bucket wash technique and more than a bit of gentle Genie power and know-how.

The brief was for a full exterior valet with machine polishing, and this is what that entails. Deep breath…

  • Visual inspection
  • Alloys cleaned with car shampoo, brushes and mitts
  • Tyres cleaned with diluted all purpose cleaner
  • Arches cleaned with citrus/all purpose cleaner mix
  • Engine bay painted areas cleaned
  • Engine bay rubbers and plastics cleaned and treated
  • Paintwork rinsed using high pressure water
  • Lower panels of paintwork pre-contact soaked in diluted citrus mix through a pump sprayer to loosen dirt and silt from paint
  • Paintwork rinsed and inspected
  • Front bumper and leading edge of bonnet required bug remover to be sprayed on and rinsed
  • Two bucket wash using wax free shampoo, various mitts and brushes starting from top to bottom and rinsing after each panel to ensure minimised water spotting
  • Visual inspection
  • Tar and tree sap chemically removed using organic fallout remover
  • Rinsed and inspected
  • Iron fallout removed
  • Rinsed and inspected
  • Dried using AS Tango as a drying aid soft dryingtowels
  • All paintwork manually decontaminated using mild clay and lubricant to remove the more stubborn areas of tree sap and tar contamination
  • Rinsed and inspected
  • Tyres protected with Car-Chem
  • Black exterior trim protected with Car-Chem
  • Exhaust trims cleaned and polished

That’s just the washing bit…

Now for the rest…

  • Visual inspection of paint with an LED torch to highlight swirls, paint marring, deeper scratches and any other paint defects
  • Machine polishing test panel completed on rear nearside of tailgate to establish the best option for single stage paint enhancement (single stage enhancement enables me to leave the maximum amount of clearcoat/lacquer on the car whilst removing most of the swirls and reducing random deeper scratches at the same time)
  • Autosmart Evo 1 polishing compound and green polishing pads were chosen to be used via DA (5.5” pads on larger surfaces and 3“ spot pads for more intricate areas)
  • All sensitive areas of trim were masked up using 3M 3434 low adhesion tape prior to polishing
  • Machine completed one panel at a time with visual checks being completed using LED lights after each panel
  • With machine work completed the car was de-masked and checked for polishing compound build up behind or on trim (none found)
  • Stone chips to bonnet and passenger side door painted using touch in method
  • Soft99 Fusso sealant applied to paint and allowed to cure
  • Exterior glass was cleaned using Autosmart Glass Clear
  • Door shuts, bonnet surround, boot surround and fuel filler area were hand cleaned
  • All interior carpets cleaned and vacuumed
  • All rubber mats vacuumed
  • All interior leather surfaces dusted, cleaned and treated using Car-Chem
  • All piano black trim dusted
  • All switchgear dusted and cleaned
  • Centre console and cup holders cleaned
  • Vents dusted
  • Interior glass cleaned
  • Front arm rests moved and cleaned
  • Final inspection and handover to client

All of this hard graft by Stu took approximately eight hours, conveniently all done at my home – on the drive for the wet work and in the garage when it got wet.

And Stu’s a lovely chap to have about the place, fitting in a treat and quietly, carefully, professionally getting on with the job in hand, with no fuss.

And what a result!

The promise of taking five years off the Rangey seems conservative. She’s almost like new! Fitted with a private plate and to the un-geeky/non-Land Rover fanatic, this could pass for the very last plated Supercharged Range Rover,  c2012.

Post sap removal, clay work and with the full (actually very gently done) machine polishing of the bodywork, the paintwork is SO impressive. The depth and shine on the Java Black is incomparable with before The Auto Genie visit. Who knew Java Black has so much gold metallic flake in it? Not me when I bought it, and it was ‘professionally valued’ and looked clean to a layman like me then. Sure Stu would have something to day about that…

And it’s not just the paintwork that’s immensely improved. The matt black pillars going up to the roof at the rear, door shuts, window frames, boot bumper and the scuttle panel above the bonnet have been treated with some special products and have come up a treat – taking them from fading grey grander, to luxurious, shiny matt black. They look great.

The huge 19-inch rims have never looked so sparkly, brake-dust free and alive with alloy allure, nor have the twin tailpipes, which positively gleam.

The same is true of all the little touches, which add up to more than the sum of their parts at creating an overall look of cleanliness – things like the badges and under the bonnet, where Stu spent a good half hour smartening the V8 up and improving and protecting the plastics.

Stu even touched up the worse of the scratches – using a toothpick in some crazed way – and Hammerite painted-up the rusty old tow bar, which has always been an eyesore and now looks magic.

The Auto Genie’s care and attention to detail is second to none. And his work ethic is too. We really are lucky to have him looking after our humble Road Magazine fleet.

And he’s very reasonable too, for what he offers – which is at the higher end of the valeting service world, but not the insane end. You can pay thousands for a valet (no, really! Check it out online!), and you can pay £5 for a car wash. Stu’s positioned somewhere nicely in the middle, charging c£280 for this full valet and machine polish number, on the massive Range Rover, over eight hours.

That might sound a lot, but when you see the transformation, it’s certainly worthwhile – money you’d get back on a sale (if that were your aim), or just to enjoy ownership that bit more, as we are doing.

And the beauty is, now all that grime, grit and rubbish is off the paintwork and it’s treated with a paintwork protectant – the big old bus is a dream to clean, and should say so for up to a year, so it’s not just a short term gain, lost on the first blast up a muddy country lane, or Summery downpour.

Plus, as Stu’s not aggressive with the machine polish grade, products and the process, this is something that can easily be repeated three or four times in the car’s lifetime, to keep the old beast looking sharp, mean and bang on for many years of shiny, happy ownership. Sweet!

Check out the results!

Impressed as much as we are (and it looks even better in the flesh, believe us!)? Why not contact Stu via his website, on Facebook or by email, or call him up for a quote on 07733-527430.

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