The former factory show car was covered with dirt and dust that it had accumulated since being stored away in 1964. The patina that coated the bumper was able to be polished off and the bumper was then sealed with wax.
Some of the paint on the fenders was gently sanded to get down to different layers without cutting through several layers. That rust on the radiator slats and the patina on the radiator were polished away by the detailer.
The wheels were demounted and blasted, then refinished. New tires were purchased and mounted on the cleaned-up wheels. The running boards had a lot of surface rust that negatively affected their appearance.
Bortz relies on a talented detailer in his area to help him spruce up cars like the Pierce-Arrow. "He can sandpaper the bad spots very lightly and do touch-up," Bortz explained. "The wheels were in bad shape, so he took the tires off, blasted the wheels and got new tires." The green tint on the chrome was a worry, but the bright metal parts cleaned up well. The interior was mostly left alone.
Big Pierce-Arrow 12 coupe dwarfs the detailer who helped Bortz gently bring the car's finish back. It takes oodles of time and patience to detail a Classic car and upgrade it from a "barn find" to a "Survivor©.
Washing the car was the first step in bringing back what Joe Bortz calls its "intrinsic sex appeal." He says, "It's a very fine line whether a hobbyist can do this himself or turn to professional help."
According to Bortz, a car like the Pierce-Arrow can hold its own at a car show and doesn't need to be restored to have good market value. "We cab park it next to a freshly restored Duesenberg and the crowd will be about equally divided on which car they like the most," he noted. "A great looking Survivor© car can embarrass a lot of people who took their cars to a restoration shop."
Every Survivor© car has a different character and history. Debbie's 1936 Chrysler Imperial Airflow Coupe is not a V-12 powered Pierce-Arrow factory show car, but when she found it, the car was not running and it was filthy with dirt and dust. She got the car home and got it running and then had the detail man come out to gently bring the car's looks and condition up a few notches.
"The detailer knows how to take existing paint and test it for thickness," Bortz explained. "Then he takes this blue paper of just the right grit and rubs gently until he finds another brand new layer of paint. He can cut paint with this paper without cutting through it. He roughs the paint up. This makes it look like it has a satin finish. Then he polishes it and seals it with wax."
When found, the '36 Chrysler Airflow had a lot of little flaws in its shiny black paint. Many bad spots in the paint could be seen on the fenders and the chrome trim on the sides of the hood showed signs of deterioration.