We at ESOTERIC have detailed a lot of Z06 / Z07 Corvettes, and have also published articles outlining the tremendous amount of work we have done in order to give them a finish that equals the amazing performance that they are capable of. The C7 Corvette has become a specialty of ours over the last couple of years…it’s a car that we know well and a community that we have strongly embraced. As a part of that commitment to the Corvette community, we decided to purchase our own Z07 Corvette in Torch Red to use as a tool to showcase the finest level of detailing and protection that is available…anywhere! We invested 100+ hours in the detail to create the absolute best-looking Corvette in existence, and based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback we have received, we far surpassed that goal.
100+ Hours to Detail a Brand New Corvette? Really?!
Why? Because we have the ability to take the finish to entirely new levels that factories aren’t capable of and to add high levels of protection to the paint in the form of Quartz Coatings and Paint Protection Film (aka Clear Bra). This protection aspect of the detail is the most important, as well as the most popular service(s) in the lineup. Even if one is happy with the looks of the vehicle straight from the factory, it won’t stay looking that way unless the finish is properly protected. While a wax may last a month or so, quartz coatings will protect the finish for years from airborne contaminants, and paint protection film will protect it from rock chips for a very long time.
It is a common mistake by those who don’t understand what highline detailing is all about to say: “Why would you spend that much time detailing…it will just get dirty after your first drive?!”. If we were spending that much time doing simple cleaning, then that statement might hold some validity. But the fact is that what we are doing is making permanent changes (for the better) to the paint, and then adding a very high level of protection in the form of quartz coatings and paint protection film. Driving your car and getting it “dirty” has no negative impact on the work that is being done here (provide you clean / maintain it properly afterward). “Highly detailed” and “driver car” are not mutually exclusive terms. You CAN have a highly detailed car that is regularly driven. One of our best long-term customers always has us perform a high-level detail and protection package on his new Ferraris. He drives them about 20k miles per year, even in the snow. And when you see his cars at events, you’ll agree that the paint looks better than just about every car there!
Granted, it’s rare to put this much time into a new car detail (or an old car detail for that matter), but the goal here was to showcase all that is possible and to set the standards by which every other detail/protection package is measured. We at ESOTERIC offer turnkey show-car AND track day solutions for those who wish to have the absolute best of the best, and this project is a thorough representative of that level of bespoke services.
Our Ultimate New Car Prep is our most popular new car service, and that usually requires 30 hours or so of work…just to put it into perspective.
As with pretty much any brand / new car, there are many areas where we can make improvements to the OEM finish. We can always find haze, sanding marks, swirls, and light scratches that will prevent the true clarity and gloss from coming through, and by using proper and modern polishing techniques, we can safely get rid of all of this to bring the finish to its true potential.
Here are a few examples of what we found on our new Z06 / Z07 Corvette that needed to be addressed. This isn’t a knock against GM / Chevrolet, it’s just the reality of automotive manufacturing.
Orange peel and texture:
Scratches and swirls in carbon flash painted areas:
Not just a “detail”! Full Customization courtesy of HRE Performance Wheels and Akrapovic Exhaust Systems.
Given our customer base, we had been planning for a while to become dealers for HRE Performance Wheels and Akrapovic Exhaust Systems. These two brands offer the pinnacle of performance, quality, and prestige within their market segments, which made them a perfect fit into the ESOTERIC group of services. So what better way to kick off the product lines than to incorporate them into the Z06 / Z07 Corvette project?
We added “Fine Auto Finishing” to our name over a year ago with the sole intention of becoming a full-service shop where customers can “finish” their cars from head to toe. We are very pleased to have this come full-circle, and now offering this level of customization to our expanding customer base.
Let’s change it up a bit…
I’ve been writing these types of articles for years now, and they always have the same format…start talking about the car and what our goals are, then walk through all of the steps and show “before” and “during” photos, then finally end the article with the best “after” shots that we have. It’s a system that has worked well, and one that detailers and enthusiasts alike have thoroughly enjoyed.
But this car is different, the project is different, and the results are different as well…so why not change it up a bit and actually START with the juicy money-shots! Once you see how incredible this Z06 / Z07 Corvette turned out, you’ll get a better appreciation for all of the effort that went into making it the best looking Corvette out there.
Presenting the best looking, most highly detailed, and best protected C7 Z06 / Z07 Corvette in existence:
HRE P101 Forged Wheels in Brushed Clear with optional Carbon Fiber center caps! Akrapovic Evolution Exhaust System for the Z07 Corvette:
Since I stopped by your shop last week Todd I can’t get your Corvette Z07 out of my mind. I have never seen any factory corvette paint look so amazing. Your paint correction process (without wet sanding) along with the multiple coats of paint sealer you applied is just stunning. It looks like a mirror. On top of the paint correction, the clear film you applied to the entire front end is totally unnoticeable. I loved the way you wrapped all the clear film edges. By far, you run a “first class” operation. I know where my next new corvette will go as soon as I take delivery.
– Mark (fellow Corvette owner and detailing enthusiast)
The game plan and goals:
Before getting started on a project of this magnitude, it’s a good idea to break it down to smaller components to make it easier to manage. If you work on it one segment at a time, it makes the job run much more smoothly.
So let’s take a look at our plan/goals/objectives:
- Installation of the Akrapovic Exhaust System
- Apply multiple layers of protective coating to new HRE Wheels, then install new tires
- Measure paint thicknesses to establish safe levels of paint polishing/correction.
- Disassemble trim pieces and other items that will make polishing/paint protection film more efficient
- Perform multiple step paint polishing
- Remove seats, polish seatbacks, and apply Gyeon coating
- Further disassemble car for paint protection film so that all edges can be tucked in
- Apply paint protection film…full front end, A-pillars, mirrors, rocker panels, side skirts, front splitter, rear impact area, custom door protectors.
- Re-assemble vehicle.
- Apply Gyeon Mohs+ Coating (total of 4 coats)
- Finishing details
As you can see, we have a tremendous amount of work ahead of us, so let’s get busy!
First up…Install Akrapovic Evolution Exhaust System
Rated at 650hp and 650lb/ft of torque, you wouldn’t think that we would need to add a performance exhaust. But once again, this is America, and we’re all about making things bigger, better, faster, and stronger! The cat-back system is full Titanium, with absolutely beautiful carbon fiber tips. The coolness factor is major with these Akrapovic systems, and the sound is out of this world. Made in Slovenia, these Akrapovic Exhaust Systems are second to none in terms of fit, finish, and build quality. They are works of art. With over 600 employees, their R&D department and Sound Engineering teams are bigger than most other exhaust manufacturers in total. They put a tremendous amount of effort into developing each and every system they make. And did I already mention how incredible they sound?!
Once we got our Z07 up in the air, the removal of the stock exhaust system was pretty straightforward. We also quickly realized just how heavy the stock exhaust is…
In these photos, you can see the detailed difference between the Akrapovic system and the OEM exhaust.
Now with them off of the car, it was time to weigh everything for comparison. In total, the Akrapovic system was 37 lbs lighter than stock.
We want to keep these beautiful Titanium and Carbon Fiber exhaust tips looking their best, which requires a high-temperature rated Quartz coating. We chose Gyeon Quartz Mohs+ as it can withstand the temperatures, and it will make maintenance and cleanup very easy.
HRE P101 Performance Wheels in Brushed Clear
While HRE offers almost a limitless amount of wheel/finish combinations, I knew right away that I wanted to go with the P101’s. They just have a very classy yet sporty design to them, and they fit well with the Corvette. I really liked the look of the black OEM wheels on the car and went back and forth quite a few times on the final color. Fortunately, Dan at our office convinced me that I should go with the Brushed Clear and I couldn’t be happier. The details on these wheels are nothing short of stunning.
Since our Z07 came with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2’s (track tires), we will retain the OEM wheels with the Cup 2’s for track days, and then have the HRE P101’s with Pilot Super Sports for street and show use. And since we are creating this to be a turnkey solution for both show and track, we’re all set in terms of wheels and tires!
All HRE wheels are engineered to minimize unsprung mass and rotational inertia for optimal acceleration, handling, and braking performance. Each wheel is built-to-order and there are nearly infinite fitment, color, and finish options available for the ultimate custom-tailored wheel buying experience.
In order to keep our HRE’s looking their best, we once again went to Gyeon Mohs+ quartz coating. And since it’s high-temp rated, we coat both the wheels and the brake calipers to make cleanup much easier.
After applying the coating to the wheels, we “bake” them under our IR curing lights. All of the HRE wheels we sell have Gyeon coatings applied to them for greater durability, and ease of maintenance.
NOTE: The coating/baking does not create the “gold” look that you see in the photos…it’s just because of the color temperature of the lights that make them look this way.
Once cured, they have a hard, durable, and brilliant finish to them…
Now that they’re ready, we used our Corghi tire machines to mount up a brand new set of Michelin Pilot Super Sport ZP tires, then the wheels were mounted back on the car.
While they were off though, we decided to make some weight comparisons between the OEM wheel/tires to the HRE setup. Note: The OEM wheels pictured here are off of another new Z06 that had the Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires on them. We wanted the comparisons to be made using the exact same tires that were on our HRE P101 wheels.
The OEM front wheel/tire weighs 55.85 pounds each. The HRE P101 / tire (same exact model/size tire) weighs 50.80 pounds each. Saving 5.05 pounds of unsprung weight PER front wheel!
The OEM rear wheel/tire weighs 65.80 pounds each. The HRE P101 / tire (same exact model/size tire) weighs 57.40 pounds each. Saving 8.40 pounds of unsprung weight PER rear wheel!
We now have total weight savings on all 4 wheels of 26.9 pounds. That kind of weight makes a significant difference in acceleration, handling, and braking.
Paint Correction and Polishing Process:
Here’s where our talents and expertise shine…pun intended! We have students from all over the world who attend our Elite Detailer Academy specifically to learn the latest and greatest paint polishing techniques and combinations. We know exactly how to extract the last amount of clarity, definition, and gloss out of the finish, and in this case we were out to bring the Z07 to its highest potential…all while being safe and preserving as much paint as possible.
Normally we accomplish our goals with just 2 polishing steps, or upwards of 3 when performing our Crystal Series Corvette detail. But in this case, we jumped this project up to a proprietary 5-step machine polishing process that allowed us to remove all texture, reduce orange peel, and bring out a tremendous amount of clarity in the paint. It’s very labor intensive, and is not recommended without the proper measuring equipment. We are one of the very few detailers who own a DeFelsko 200B Advanced model paint thickness gauge. Not only will this meter measure on non-metallic substrates like carbon fiber, plastic, or fiberglass, but it will also provide individual layer (base, color, clear) measurements as well. This way we know exactly how much clear coat we have to work with. Without one of these on Corvettes (or other exotic vehicles without metal bodies), you’re playing a bit of Russian Roulette.
Before we started to polish, we disassembled much of the trim and carbon flash-painted pieces from the car. This would give us much better access for polishing, and it would provide us with a cleaner paint protection installation as well.
All of these items were also heavily polished to bring out the absolute best clarity in the finish as possible. This is extremely labor-intensive work!
For the Corvette owners with keen eyes, you will notice how much of the trim has been removed in this photo which allows us better access with our machines.
The polishing process was easily the most time-consuming aspect of the project. We had over 50 hours’ worth of time invested in polishing the paint…but in the end, it was worth every minute of it! I can’t divulge our system on this car, but I will say that we used a lot of Rupes polishers, a lot of pads, and a lot of compounds/polishes.
We also turned the rear diffuser into a mirror…even on the under-side!
Carbon fiber polishing and correction…
Our Z07 has the optional visible carbon-fiber roof, and we haven’t found a carbon fiber yet that we can’t make (considerably) better. As with the rest of the Corvette carbon roofs we’ve worked on, this one had a lot of sanding marks and texture in it that prevented the true clarity from coming out.
We spent probably 4 hours working on this roof alone, but when it was finished, it looked absolutely amazing!
You can now see the individual strands in the carbon fiber.
Quantifiable Results. Subjectivity in detailing is a thing of the past…
We have a very specialized tool in our arsenal that not only measures gloss, but it also takes very specific measurements that more closely relate to how our eyes see or perceive a finish. At this point, I’m pretty sure we are the only detailers in the USA who own and use one of these. It takes the guesswork and subjectivity completely out of detailing and backs the results with very defined numbers.
More about this tool, and exactly what it represents can be found in a recent article we published: Gloss Meters and Automotive Paint
Below I show the before and after readings of two areas of the car…one being the painted body, and the other being the carbon flash painted areas.
To receive improvements/increases in the high single digits is very significant, and easily identifiable by the human eye. But to get improvements ranging from 35% – 50%…that’s just insane.
These readings focus on 3 main areas: Gloss, RIQ (Reflective Image Quality), and RSPEC (Specular Reflection).
On the Carbon Flash, we got the following readings: Gloss went from 86.3 to 90.7. A 5% increase RIQ went from 61.6 to 95. A 35.5% increase RSPEC went from 46.5 to 87.3. A 47% increase!
On the painted panels, we got the following readings: Gloss went from 56 to 93.4. A 40% improvement! RIQ went from 88.4 to 95.8. An 8% improvement RSPEC went from 46.9 to 93.5. A 50% improvement!
These aren’t incremental improvements that make you say: “That car looks good”. These are monumental improvements that make you say: “Holy $#!t“
Just to put it into perspective, below is a photo/measurement we took on an Arctic White Z06 we had in the shop at the same time. These are pretty low numbers by comparison, and this is even after we did a light polish on it.
Here are a few more before and after photos of the Carbon Flash pieces so you can see just how big of an improvement we achieved on them. Normally we are against doing any type of sanding on OEM finishes, but on a few of the carbon flash pieces, we did exactly that (NO sanding on the Torch Red panels). Smaller pieces are easy to re-paint if necessary…large panels are not!
We took the side skirts and front splitter from a textured, wavy mess to a flat, clear finish. The piece on the left is before correction, and the piece on the right is after correction.
As for the rear spoiler, it went through equally as impressive of a transformation…
The difference in person is even more astonishing than in the photos!
Let’s remove the seats and polish them!
The backs of the optional Competition Bucket Seats are painted black…the perfect color for getting swirled up in manufacturing. You can’t really see the seatbacks, but that didn’t stop us from removing them from the car just so we could polish out all of the swirls, then put a hard coat of Gyeon Prime coating on them. Once again…this is why they call it “detail”-ing.
Upon close inspection, this is what the paint looks like on our brand new Z07:
And here’s what it looked like after polishing and coating:
While we had the seats out, we also used our Gyeon Prime to coat the carbon fiber:
And treat the leather with Gyeon Leather Coat
Paint Protection Film by SunTek
We at ESOTERIC, like many other detailing companies offering paint protection film, are big fans of SunTek paint protection film. Why? Because their film has better optics and clarity than anything else we have tested. And when I say “better”, I mean that we have quantified these statements by testing using our Rhopoint IQ meter that we discussed earlier in the article. We will be publishing our results from these tests soon and posting them up here on the Esoteric Learning Center.
When we spend the amount of time and effort polishing paint that we do, we end up with a finish that looks absolutely incredible. Given this, we demand that our paint protection film offers as much clarity as possible so that it doesn’t take away from the great looks we have accomplished. We also don’t want a noticeable visual difference between the areas that are covered in film, and those that are not.
Our goal with the Z06 / Z07 Corvette project (as it relates to paint protection film) was to tuck in as many edges as we possibly could so that you can’t even tell that there’s film on the car. In order to do this, it required us to take the car apart…literally.
So in addition to all of the trim pieces, carbon flash, front splitter, and side skirts, we needed to remove the front bumper and headlights.
The cost of a new Z07 Corvette. $107K. Ripping it apart just to tuck in paint protection film edges. Priceless!
Now with it all taken apart, Dan could proceed with installing the SunTek paint protection film and tucking all of the edges. He installed the entire front end, mirrors, A-pillars, rocker panels, side skirts, front splitter, rear-wheel impact area, and a custom piece in the door handle area that Dan designed specifically for Corvettes.
You can see how this is the only way that you can fully tuck all of the paint protection film edges…full custom!
Protective Quartz Coatings by Gyeon!
Once the car has been polished, paint protection film has been applied, and the car has been put back together, it’s time to finish everything off by applying all of the latest, durable coating offerings by Gyeon Quartz.
For those of you who are new to coatings, I’ll give you a quick summary of what they’re all about. Waxes and sealants might last a few months, whereas coatings will last for years. Coatings bond with the surface, and cannot be washed away like other products can and will. Once properly applied and cured, they form a hard and durable barrier that protects the paint from the elements and airborne contaminants. They hold their high gloss levels for years, and they also provide self-cleaning properties which makes maintenance much easier.
Given our status within the industry, we could use any brand of coatings we want. Many of them would even pay us to use their products just for the publicity we can provide. We, however, chose to use Gyeon (and Kamikaze)…and pay for the products we use. For our systems and testing, we have not found any products that we like better, and our customers absolutely love the results.
The main coating product we used on our Z06 / Z07 Corvette was Gyeon’s Mohs+. This product is only available through their Certified Detailer program, and Esoteric was the very first company in the U.S. to become Certified with Gyeon’s product line. This coating is a 2-part system. We applied 3 layers of the base (Mohs), and 1 layer of the topcoat (Phobic). This formula is the hardest and most durable in the Gyeon lineup, and provides a beautiful, deep gloss to it.
Here’s a complete list of all of the coatings and areas treated on our Corvette:
- Gyeon Mohs+ on all painted surfaces, and on top of the Suntek paint protection film
- Gyeon Mohs+ on HRE wheels, brake calipers, and exhaust tips
- Gyeon Prime on the backs of the Competition Seats
- Gyeon View on the windshield
- Gyeon Fabric Coat on the carpets and floor mats
- Gyeon Leather Coat on the seats
- Gyeon Tire on the Michelin tires
- Gyeon Trim on exterior/engine compartment plastic pieces
Other areas of interest on our Z06 / Z07 Corvette project
Detailing is all about contrasts, so tinting the windows was a no brainer. The dark windows against the Torch Red paint just add another dimension to the looks of our Corvette. We used Suntek’s CXP film at 18%. This is their top of the line product, and the clarity is superb as to be expected from Suntek.
We also installed aftermarket lowering bolts for the suspension to bring down the wheel gap just a bit. The Z06 / Z07 Corvette has a lot of space between the wheels and wheel wells, so lowering it just a bit really made a big difference. Some may opt for a greater drop, but I want to make sure I can get this car into driveways and gas stations!
Final images of our Z06 / Z07 Corvette!
You got to see the final professional images at the top of the article, so now I’d like to present our own photography. Despite having a great camera/lens combo (Canon 5D MK III, 24-70L II), it still doesn’t fully capture the clarity and brilliant finish this Corvette now has! Enjoy… Keep in mind…this level of clarity and gloss is being achieved with the front end completely wrapped in Suntek paint protection film!
Z06 / Z07 Corvette in summary.
With over 100 hours during the course of a month, we took this already amazing Z07 Corvette and transformed it into a one of a kind show car. While you will find highly detailed Corvettes at shows, you won’t find any with this level of paint correction, polishing, and protection. And while you may find shops that can install wheels and exhaust, you won’t find any that could remotely come close to the detailing level that was performed on this car. Just like this Corvette is one of a kind, the services at ESOTERIC are one of a kind as well. We offer complete, turnkey show car and track day solutions whether you have or are looking to buy a Corvette, Porsche, Ferrari, or anything in between.
If you’re looking to buy/build something on the level of this Z07 Corvette, please give us a call to discuss your wants and needs.
There were a lot of people involved in this project, and we wanted to thank them all accordingly. This is, after all, a team effort.
- The entire staff at Esoteric…thanks for all of your efforts in building this Corvette. We worked many long hours, but it was worth it in the end!
- Rick “Corvette” Conti and Chuck Metts of Coughlin Chevrolet.
- Wes Murray of Unchained Films for the great video footage and editing
- Ted Zombek of Z Photo for the great still photos
- HRE Wheels, Akrapovic Exhaust, SunTek Films, and Gyeon Quartz Coatings
Z06 Z07 Corvette Detailing Video:
Please be sure to share this article on your favorite automotive forum(s) and social media! ESOTERIC – Fine Auto Finishing 9801 Karmar Ct. New Albany, OH 43054 614-855-6855 www.EsotericDetail.com www.EsotericCarCare.com
Thank you for reading! Todd Cooperider