How to Get Your Car Ready for a Car Show

Car shows are a fantastic way to showcase your favorite cars — especially ones you’ve been working on for a while — but entering your vehicle into one of these shows isn’t as easy as showing up and driving onto the floor. What do you need to do to get your favorite daily driver or competition piece ready for your next car show? Follow these three steps.


1. Clean, Clean and Clean Some More

Before you start scoping out local or national shows you want to participate in the first thing you need to do is clean your car. We don’t just mean picking up the trash in the cabin or vacuuming the floors. Getting your car ready for a show means you need to deep clean your vehicle from the undercarriage to the ceiling and everything in between.

Start with the basics. Get rid of any trash and clutter. Remove any junk you’re storing in the trunk. Then, take everything out of your car that can be easily removed, including the floor mats. Vacuum everything you can, then go over any cloth in the interior with a lint roller to eliminate human and animal hair. Make sure you get everywhere, including the nooks and crannies.

Wash the exterior thoroughly, including the windows and door jams. Dry it with a microfiber or chamois cloth, and put a good coat of high-gloss wax on it. Make sure you wash your car’s undercarriage and engine compartment, as well. Take care not to get any water into your air filter, but you don’t want to show a car that has an engine covered in sludge.

2. Know Your Class

Not all car shows are created equal, and you will need to know what class your show vehicle falls into before applying. Three basic classes exist, and they may be broken down further depending on the specific details of the show:

  • Stock: These cars are as close to original as you can get. They’re often classics and are used strictly for display.
  • Street: Street cars feature slight modifications, either to the engine or to the exterior. They’re close to stock but too modified to be considered original.
  • Modified: This class is where things start to get crazy. These cars have been heavily modified, either for display, for functionality or both. They may or may not be street legal.

Don’t show up to a stock-only show with a modified car — they’ll turn you away and laugh while they’re doing it. Know what class your show vehicle falls into before you apply.

3. Be Prepared for Anything

Lots of people attend car shows, and they love to put their greasy hands all over everything. If your showpiece is being displayed to the public, especially before it’s judged, chances are, your perfect wax job will end up smudged. Keep a bottle of spray and some microfiber wipes on-hand for any last minute touch-ups.

If the engine and tuning is part of your display, keep some tools on-hand, as well, for any last minute tune-ups you might need to do to keep that engine purring.

Finally, keep a first aid kit nearby. We said to be prepared for anything, and the last thing you want to do is bust a knuckle and bleed all over your freshly detailed interior.

Have Fun and Don’t Panic

When it comes down to it, car shows are designed to be fun. They’re a great way to network with other car lovers and make new friends, as well. Have fun with it, don’t take it too seriously and don’t panic if something goes wrong. Everyone wants to win, but the whole experience should be fun — don’t make it all about the titles.