Friday, 30 November 2012

M/M Interview with Alexander Lipphardt

Image of Alexander Lipphardt with the Bugatti Veyron Pur Sang is provided for exclusive use by Alexander Lipphardt. All rights reserved.

This exclusive interview with Alexander Lipphardt of PerfectDetail was conducted by Nicola Linza and Cristoffer Neljesjö in  Hamburg, Germany during November 2012

What inspired you to start Perfectdetail?

Three things: My passion for supercars! Personally, the professional situation I found myself in in late 2009 and last to mention a rather idealistic approach: being able to turn your hobby into a business or a living was something I have always dreamed of no matter what it is you’re doing!

Don’t ask me why but I have always loved to clean and detail cars. This goes back to my early years when I was as a kid where I believe it all started. I spent hours and hours washing and cleaning my mothers Volkswagen Golf in my parents garage without ever been asked or forced to do. Back then I used a sponge, some soap and bucket full of water – that was it. Throughout the years my equipment got bigger and bigger and today my detailing gear is enormous and worth thousands of Euros. In fact I’ve never stopped looking for more and better gear to improve and faciliate my work. If you work on supercars like the Pagani Zonda, a Bugatti Veyron, a Koenigsegg CCXR Edition or an old Adenauer Mercedes Benz from the 1960s which cost houndreds of thousands or millions of Euros you want to make sure that you only use the finest and best equipment the market has to offer.

It all started as a hobby some 15 years ago and I probably gathered my most important detailing skills and knowledge about cars and especially paintwork surfaces in these years I profit from today. After graduating from university (I hold a diploma in Sports sience, a double master from ESCP-EAP and recently an engineering certificate from the University of Applied Science in Hamburg) and before I founded Perfectdetail in January 2010, I worked as an IT consultant for a major ticketing company here in Germany and was responsible for the entire ticketing process of the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Master).

It was July 2009 when I finally decided to quit my job. In the middle of a world wide recession slowly kicking in and a lack of medium term job opportunities on the horizon I thought: this must be the perfect moment to write a business plan, give your service a name and start to create a brand from scratch. As I want all of my details to be as close to perfect as possible the name of my company was obvious and "Perfectdetail" was born!

My target was and is to offer an extremely high detailing service to exclusive and rare supercars only. Meanwhile, I have a facility near Düsseldorf/Germany where I work on my clients cars but I also travel Europe & worldwide and work on site at my customer.

At the end of 2009 I was very fortunate and lucky to get in contact with Markus Esser, founder of PACE (Premium Automotive Concept Esser,) meanwhile one of my best clients and beyond that a very close friend of mine. I detailed his Bugatti Veyron (in fact the first car I detailed right in the first month of Perfectdetail!) for close to three days in a row. Since then I was lucky to work on cars like a Pagani Zonda F, Koenigseggs, classic and modern Aston Martins, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, rare and unique Porsches like the Carrera GT for example, the Bugatti Veyron Pur Sang and other Veyrons from clients from Germany and Europe.

Please explain why such precise detailing is critical to the longevity and value of an automobile.

Quite simple: If you’ve put money aside for years to fulfill your dream and finally being able to buy that Porsche 993 Turbo S you’ve always dreamed of, own a handbuilt Pagani, Aston Martin, Bugatti or any kind of supercar that is worth hundred thousands or millions of Euros you just don't want to drive it through the next cheap car wash or hand it over to cheap valet services that sadly most of the times have not the slightest clue how to care for the car properly! You just don't want to know the number of cars I have seen in the last 3 years which were detailed and treated the wrong way. This sadly often results in severe and deep scratches (I call them "defects") mainly in the clearcoat. It takes me hours and sometimes days to correct these so that the paintwork is free of defects again and the car looks flawless especially in direct sunlight where any kind of scratch or defect appear right away.

I often compare it with the way you take care of your skin. If you only use water and curd soap all of your life your skin will look accordingly after time. It needs proper soaps, the right treatment, lotions, the right cosmetics and maybe a pealing every once in a while to avoid altering and make it more resistant to environmental influences. The same principle basically applies for the paintwork of your car!

What was the toughest correction you have had to tackle?

That clearly was a Lamborghini Aventador I detailed for one of my clients in Monaco back in April this year. The car was on display at this years Top Marques Monaco and the owner wanted to sell it there. To put it short: it was a nightmare! Being "jet black" the car would have been a challenge to any detailer. But Lamborghinis jet black is the most sensible colors I have ever worked on so far. So sensitive that if you touch it with a fingernail you’ll have a scratch in the clearcoat right away. The car had only about 7k km on the clock but was full of scratches and defects. I spent about 40 hours straight paintwork only correcting the defects before taking care of the interior.

But all that effort was worth it: There were two additional Aventadors on display in front of the Grimaldi forum in Monaco. All of them were jet black, all of them had the same interior color and similar kilometres/milages on the clock. The one that was sold within hours was the one I detailed – it just looked perfect!

If you were to name one of your all-time favourite jobs, which would it be?

Puhh...there are quite a few to be honest but one of the key moments for me in the past three years was when I was visiting a new customer in Salzburg/Austria. He collects and deals with oldtimers and had four cars he wanted me to detail and prepare for the Klassikwelt Bodensee (oldtimer fair.) The first car I worked on and finished after close to 20 hours in total was a rare Maserati from the 50’s. When I drove the car out of the garage I worked in he immediately started to smile, looked at the car, came up to me with noticeable tears in his eyes and said, "Mr. Lipphardt, what have you done to my car? It has never ever looked that great. My most profound thanks for the job you did!" I will never forget that moment.

Please sum up the process from beginning to end-stage of a typical full-service Perfect Detail.

A full-service or "ultimate detail" how I call it would consist of several stages and contain the following steps:

1)      Washing Stage

Pre-rinsing the entire car, wheels & wheel arches, engine, exterior trim etc. Claying the paintworksurface with different claybars to get rid of contaminants. Followed by a safe "two-bucket-method“ washing technique.

2)      Paintwork correction

Multiple paintwork correction stages using dedicated polishes and pads on my polishing machines. Followed by refining stages to guarantee the best possible and achievable finish. This step alone can take up to several days until I switch to the third step.

3)      Waxing and paintwork protecting stage

After the paintwork has been perfectly corrected and prepared it then is protected by several layers of premium carnauba Swissvax/Swizöl waxes which are the most exclusive waxes you can get. The wax is "layered" over a period of 3 days to guarantee the best and longest possible protection for the paintwork of the car. Depending on the driven kilometres/miles per year of the car, a protection of 10-12 months is very realistic.

4)      Wheels & Interieur & basically everything else there is to do

After the first 3 steps I then work on the complete interior of the car, for example detail door shuts, windows, clean & protect the wheels with special wheel waxes and sealants etc. In case the car has a leather interior for example it will be cleaned with specific leather lotions and sealants so it stays smooth and protected.

The ultimate detail takes round about 3-6 days, depending on the overall condition of the car and the necessary paintwork correction which need to be done.

The above interview with Alexander Lipphardt 2012 © Manner of Man Magazine. All rights reserved. Reproduction is strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher.