Tips on Keeping Your Antique Car or Truck Looking Great

Your antique vehicle, car or truck, may not only be valuable but in a real way it is also a part of history. Most owners like to keep their vehicle in excellent condition inside and outside. The objective many times is to keep it looking as great as it looked when the vehicle was new. In other words, keeping it in it’s original condition as long as possible.

tips for cleaning antique carsYour project may be just to maintain it’s current condition or perhaps a complete restoration. With that being said, it’s important to ensure all original materials are treated only with products designed not to have a negative effect on the material’s future quality and durability.

Maintaining Antique Vehicle Seats

Probably the most delicate area of your vehicle is the interior. In regards to your cars seats, the goal might be to ensure pliability so to keep them from cracking or showing more wear than they should. The cleaning materials you choose to employ are important. One reason for this is that many different materials were used to make seats during earlier years. Today there are excellent products on the market that will allow you to clean and maintain seats without worrying about possible long term damage from repeated use.

Selecting products that clean and protect in one step saves you time and insures your interior has constant protection. Again, it is important to choose products that won’t damage the interior’s materials with repeated use. You may want to consider these types of cleaners for seats, dashboards, and rubber moldings found in the interior of your vehicle. Note that any form of abrasive cleaner, no matter how miniscule the abrasiveness, with repeated use, will begin to deteriorate the surface being cleaned.


As an antique vehicle owner, you want to remove a stain without damaging the area of the stain. Chances are there might be a particular stain in an antique vehicle that is just very difficult to remove.

One thing you ant to stay clear from is abrasive cleaners. A classic or antique car has been around a while and materials could have become quite worn over the years.  A spot remover designed to remove the stain without harsh chemicals is most likely your best bet. This may make it necessary to repeat the process several times to remove the stain but it can guard from causing a bigger problem than the stain alone. The natural feeling is that the harder you scrub the better. That really isn’t the case. The more stubborn the stain the more you may have to repeat the process. Let the cleaner do it’s work as opposed to scrubbing harshly and causing damage to the material.

Washing Your Antique Vehicle

It’s not a good idea to take your antique vehicle to a car wash. This is even more necessary for valuable show cars. You may also want to stay away from a sponge and a bucket of soapy water.

maintaining antique automobilesWhat you want to use is a tack cloth. A sponge might leave a light scratch. A tack cloth should not. What you want to do with the tack cloth is to fold it up until it is puffy looking, a bit larger than the size of your hand. You want to take soft long strokes with the cloth. Let the cloth do the cleaning. You want to stay away from rubbing hard. You will also want to refold the cloth several times to remove particles that could cause scratches. If there is too much dirt on your antique car or truck, consider using disposable Dupont E-4144 Sontera polishing cloths. These can also be used with water for better cleaning. Put a few of the disposable cloths together. Wet them and then squeeze out access water. Apply the cloth to your vehicle the same way you would with a tack cloth. Long gentle strokes without too much pressure.

Keeping the Vehicle Looking Great

You probably put a lot of time and effort, not to mention money, into keeping your vehicle in tip top shape. You can look at it as keeping up your investment. The goal now is to keep it looking new or as close to original as possible.

It’s a known fact that climate can have an effect on your car or truck’s overall condition. Both extreme heat and extreme cold has it’s effects. Also moisture. Depending on the valuation of your antique vehicle and how you drive it, you may want to consider a climate-controlled environment. Many warehouses offer climate controlled spaces at a cost. As an example, wood can rot and metal may rust due to high humidity. Again, the choice of keeping the vehicle in a climate-controlled environment will have a lot to do with how large or not large your investment is.

Let’s say you only take the car or truck out for auto show appearances. In this case just a wipe down with a chamois cloth (good for cleaning moisture too) will most likely be enough. The idea is to do this each and every time you take the vehicle out. You can call it “ongoing cleaning“.

An antique car often can be a sizable investment for it’s owner and the vehicle has survived many years. Those years have made it necessary to be cautious in it’s cleaning and general upkeep. If you follow some these simple procedures and recommendations, you will likely have it looking great for many years to come.

You may also want to check out the Auto Museum Online articles on the links below…

Classic Car Serial Numbers and What They Tell Us

Some of the Best Cars to Restore


(Article copyright 2015 Auto Museum Online)