17 October 2013

Product Review: Griot’s Garage Starter Car Care Kit

Griot’s Garage makes a comprehensive line of high quality car care products and probably the best way to get introduced through them is via their Starter Car Care Kit. It contains: Best in Show Wax; Wheel Cleaner; Speed Shine; Vinyl and Rubber Dressing; Paint Cleaning Clay; and Car Wash.

I recently used a kit and can report that the products all do what they say that they will and are of considerably higher quality than the usual auto parts equivalents (and I use the term “equivalents” really loosely).

Speed Shine is Griot’s quick detailing product, and in addition to smelling really good, it does a fantastic job of cleaning light soil without scratching and leaving behind a nice gloss. Unlike other products, there is some volume to it (from additional gloss enhancers I assume), so if you’re careless about wiping it off (or are using it in a dimly lit garage), it will leave behind a stain rather than just evaporating. It wipes away without a problem, even days later, and leaves behind that aforementioned nicely enhanced gloss.

 For those who haven’t yet tried Paint Cleaning Clay, you’re still in the Stone Age of car care. The stuff works amazingly well and it’s actually rather fun to use. About the consistency of really stiff modeling clay, you simply spray on some Griot’s Speed Shine and glide it along your paint, and it does all of the work removing surface contaminants like tree sap with astonishing ease.  What’s left behind is an ideal base for applying Griot’s Best in Show wax.

 I’m no wax formula expert and people will eternally debate how much Carnuba is best, but I can say that Best in Show goes on easily, doesn’t streak on a black car (as a surprising number of high quality waxes do), comes off easily and beads water seemingly forever. Oh, and the depth of shine is impressive, too.  Happily, Griot’s Car Wash is also nicely formulated to not remove their wax. Again, something that can’t be said about every product on the market.

The Starter Kit is rounded out by wheel cleaner and vinyl dressing, both of which I was happy with as well. I’ve used wheel cleaners that have been hell on clear coats and even worse on polished alloy wheels. Griot’s cleaner is both gentle and effective at removing brake dust, which is perhaps the most hated substance on earth beyond black mold or radioactive waste.

As expected, the rubber and vinyl dressing is several cuts above the auto parts store product. It lacks the greasy artificial sheen that most of those products leave, and instead leaves behind a nice clean, natural finish. It doesn’t seem to attract and capture dust the way the others do, and it also seems to last nearly indefinitely, at least on interior surfaces; although a month later, the big black rubber bumper guards on my ’82 Porsche 911SC coupe also still look big, fresh and rubbery. The only downside here is the fact that they’re not exactly a feature of the 911 that I care to emphasize.

At under $70, it’s a ton of car care resource for the buck. You could easily spend close to that at your local parts store and wind up with some clearly inferior stuff.  Having seen some of the cars owned by founder Richard Griot, I can assure you that he is one persnickety dude who makes the average Porsche Club concours participant look like a total slacker. I get the impression even if this weren’t his business, he’d still formulate his products with the same level of care just to detail his own cars.

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