DEC 09 CLEANING THE ROLLS-ROYCE
By Norman C Whye
My career in the motor trade progressed, and the variety of jobs on the several different makes of vehicles made the work more interesting, but our main franchise was BMC, which later became incorporated with British Leyland, and this multifranchise comprised several well known and respected makes of English cars, all sadly lost to overseas conglomerates. We were prepared to tackle any make of car, light van, and sometimes more heavy vehicles.
Several of our customers were of quite high standing in society, and on visitations, we were often asked to take the customer home, and then bring the car back to the workshop, do the repair, and then return it. This gave us the chance of driving some of the high quality cars, when larger garages employed specialists in these makes, and the apprentice had little chance of experiencing the comfort and feeling of the plush vehicle.
One such customer regularly stayed at the Ingoldisthorpe Manor hotel, and used to bring his Rolls Royce daily to our garage to have it washed, cleaned inside, windows cleaned and polished inside and out, the boot cleaned out, and the tyres painted with special black tyre paint. This easily applied paint was so effective in brightening up objects, that its use was often employed to enhance other items, as well as to give certain used cars a special presentation so to increase the chances of a sale.
One morning the two- tone Rolls Royce car appeared at the door, and I was instructed to carry out the cleaning. This particular make of car had very few sharp edges and corners, and therefore was easily sponged and washed over, hosing underneath the wheel arches, under the doors and running boards, and leathering off the bodywork and windows with the best product that I have ever found for this purpose—a real chamois leather. The resultant appearance was pristine. The carpets, seats, under the back seat, inside the boot—where I carefully removed all items, cleaned inside, and dusted, before replacing them as I found them, polishing the walnut fittings of the dashboard and seats, checked inside dashboard pockets, and all other interior pockets, and finally painted all tyres, including the spare, and then delivered the shining vehicle to the forecourt, where it was replenished with fuel and then delivered back to the hotel, ready for the customer.
I carried out this operation for each day that the customer was resident at the hotel, and felt quite proud of the result of my labours. However, as is often the result of this trait, things could go awry, and one morning the Rolls-Royce appeared at the door, and the customer walked into the foreman’s office shortly to be taken back to the hotel by the foreman and brought back to me where I was in no uncertain, or polite terms, given a proper telling off, and ordered to carry out the complete operation again immediately. This I did, making sure that I did not forget any detail however small. The car was then driven back to the hotel.
Some time later I discovered the reason for my misdemeanour, The customer had found a spent match in one of the arm-rest ashtrays of the rear seat. I had apparently over looked this small item, but learned the hard way that things had to be done properly, all part of the apprentice learning of the trade.