Tips on preparing to enter your car or truck into a show.
2012 Corvette ZR1 at the Washington Auto Show
You've invested a lot of time and money into your vehicle and now you'd like to show it off. With the profusion of large and small local car shows taking place around the country, there's no limit to the number of places you can exhibit your vehicle and possibly win prizes. But is your truck really up to snuff for a demonstration? Here are some tips on how to start getting your vehicle geared up for a car show.
1. Be prepared to plan ahead.
You will need a budget and a timeframe, so give yourself a good 6-12 months to save the money, get the work done and plan for your event. A good leeway time is necessary in case things go wrong - nothing is worse than having your vehicle 80% complete the week before the show, and then your mechanic gets the flu.
2. Research the shows you'd like to enter.
Before starting to prep your car, make a list of the car shows you'd like to enter. Are they close to home, or will they require travel, car transport and costly entrance fees? Can the events be combined with regular travel that you do, such as work travel, a conference your company is sending you to or an annual vacation? In addition, take a good, long look at past show winners - attend any that you can beforehand. Take a look at the judges for the upcoming show as well, to see what their background and preferences are.
3. Be realistic about your budget.
Set a price that you can you live with, remembering to add any travel expenses into the total budget. Keep in mind your big ticket items first: your vehicle has to run perfectly for any show you enter, but bells and whistles can come later. If you've already got the cash saved up now, you can always add additional funds weekly over the course of your customization or restoration.
4. Get up to speed on what hot's and what's not.
It's important to see what's trending, but keep in mind that not all trends will stick. You want your vehicle to stand out, but spending lots of money on something that is too corny will only hurt your bottom line. Go back to your research, too, and see overall what is making a splash on car shows right now.
5. Near completion, have an expert check it out.
They may hear knocks and pings that you can't, even if you are an expert yourself. It's always good to get a non-partial eye - or ear - on the job to look under the hood, take it for a spin and give it a good once over. Remember to hire someone you trust - and someone who is not vying in the same competition! Or do the work yourself with quality auto parts from a website such as Volunteer Vette
6. Clean it up, inside and out.
Take care when washing, waxing and polishing your car. This is one area you can save money but remember that waxing can be abrasive, so you may be best to do this yourself. You can use a trusted brand like Turtle Wax and buy a good polymer car polish at a discount store.
With proper planning and budgeting, there's plenty of time ahead to equip your car or truck to enter a car show next year - and maybe even win a prize you can be proud of!
Photograph used under creative commons license and can be found at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2012_Chevrolet_Corvette_ZR1_--_2012_DC.JPG