GARAGE LIFE | 50cal @ PMG Autocare

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Walk into your local motor factors and you will see row upon row and shelf after shelf of highly coloured, attractively branded car cleaning products. From waxes and polishes, wheel sealant to detailer spray, the choice and variety is simply mind boggling.

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Whilst recently attending the annual ‘Showerks 14’ show I was shocked at the sheer amount of detailing products that people seemed to have in the boots of their cars, or detailing bags. As each car pulled up and parked, the owners pulled out a vast array of different chemicals and compounds, designed and billed to help make their car stand out from the crowd.

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I think its fair to say that every Autolifer has a favourite product, mine is my ‘Poorboys Blackhole Glaze’ and ‘Pete’s 53 Wax.’ I like them both because I think they are moderately priced and for the outlay the results are pretty good. So keeping all this in mind, when I heard of a new company hitting the market ‘50cal’ which was causing quite a stir with some of their new products I felt I had to investigate a little more and just find out what makes their products just so different to everything else on the market.

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I contacted Autolifer’s pal ‘Big Pete of PMG Autcare’ who has very publicly recommended the entire range of 50cal products to the car enthusiast community. Let me make this very clear Pete doesn’t work for 50cal, or represent them, he is passionate about what he does and happily shares his techniques and detailing skills with the public. This can be seen through his regular free ‘Detailing Demonstration Days’ that he runs for anyone who wishes to learn a little more about car cleaning. Pete is on of the countries most experienced detailers, his services range from light paint corrections and interior detailing to full paint corrections and stone chip repair.

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We arranged a date and the Autolifer’s Crew featuring ‘Gaffer’ Patrick, Phil ‘Soupy’ Cambell, Chris and his head turning AE86 Corolla and myself headed up to PMG HQ to see what all the fuss was about. Pete had also arranged the team from 50cal to be there to chat to us face to face about their products.
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At first glance they seem to offer all the usual types of products that have been knocking about for a few years; Snow Foam, Filler Glaze, Wax, Glass Cleaner etc. They have some cool unique branding going on with their ‘50cal Detailing Regime’, this branding is seen in their graphics, website, posters and product bottle design.

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Each of their bottles look like ‘50cal bullet shells’ and their wax tins look like little ration tins that soldiers would carry in their pack. I quite like it, it is different from the usual display of pastel colours, feminine smells and flowery graphics. If you had all their products on your shelf someone could easily mistake it for a shelf at a firing range.

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Officially launched in April 2014 50cal is a relatively young company, but as R&D has been taking place for over two years it is clear to see that the team of three have been doing their homework and making sure all their products were fully tested and ready before they went on the market. They are based in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast and it was the local wartime history of the docklands and buildings that inspired their branding.

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As Pete was demoing the ‘Ambush Super Snow foam’ to the rest of the team I took some time out with Morgan, one the team at 50cal.

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I asked him about the two snow foams they have on offer and what made them different to all the others that are available right now. Morgan explained the the Ambush Super Foam is as close to a ‘touchless’ wash as you can get and that there was nothing else on the market that can touch it’s cleaning ability. Morgan did say that it took a lot of trail and error to get the balance between appearance on the car (or baked Alaska look as he put it) and dirt sticking ability.

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Morgan then went on to explain that the other snow foam ‘Combat Neutral Snow Foam’ they offer is more of a ‘maintenance foam’ a totally neutral and wax safe foam that can be used regularly without the risk of removing the wax on the paintwork. The appearance of this foam is slightly less ‘snowy’ as others, but the slickness it creates on the paintwork can not be overlooked.

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Being honest I was very skeptical when Morgan was telling me just how good their snow foams where, but after seeing it actually being used on my own car, I must admit, they seem to be every bit as effective Morgan claims.

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When you think of the terms ‘glaze’ or ‘swirl filler’ you immediately think of ‘Poorboys Blackhole’ which has been the market leader and the glaze of choice for many years. 50cal have released their own filler glazed named ‘Cover Up’ and when Pete of PMG told me it was a ‘game changer’ I had to ask Morgan to tell me about it a little more.

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“It is a glaze that has been designed to be super easy to use, to apply either by hand or machine and pad. We wanted to create a product that got incredible results, and I think we did that.’ Morgan admitted that ‘Blackhole was the benchmark’ but went on to say that they decided to take that benchmark and improve on it.

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My little mk2 mx5 was used as a demo for this ‘game changer’ as Pete put it. I had mixed feelings about this, yes it was great getting one of the most experienced detailers in the country to work on my car, but by doing this, everyone got to see my wonderfully swirly paint… Ho hum… anyway, the glaze…

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Pete started on my rear quarter panel, taped off half, used an everyday finishing pad with a few squirts of ‘Cover Up’ and made a few quick passes over half of the panel. I must stress, it had not been machine polished or corrected before hand and Pete literally only made a few quick passes, less than 3 minutes was spent on this panel.

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The results where staggering. To the eye it looked as if the swirling had been removed and the panel was perfect. I had to keep telling myself that the swirls where still there and only covered up, but it was proving tricky to believe that such little work and effort achieved such results.

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Pete then offered his machine and pad to myself and asked did I want a go. He assured me that the pad and product where entirely ‘dummy proof’ (I am said Dummy) and off to work I went. Within five minutes I had the other half of the panel looking as good as the section Pete did. “I AM A DETAILING GOD!” I thought to myself, but wisely kept my mouth shut. We then went on to do the rest of my car. The photos speak for themselves, and I agree with Big Pete…. this glaze is a ‘game changer’ Poorboys Blackhole has been replaced in my kit bag by ‘50cal Cover Up!’ The King is dead, long live the King!’

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Finally we looked at the ‘Penta Wax’ 50cal’s wax that Morgan describes as ‘long lasting, easy to use and value for money.’ I have been using ‘Pete’s 53’ wax for 3-4yrs now and like it for its ease of use and value for money. At £50 a tin the ‘Penta Wax’ is more pricey than my usual choice, but Morgan assured me the results would speak for themselves.

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Once again the little MX5 stepped up as the guinea pig and Pete showed the team how simple it was to use and also how little was needed. I was very skeptical at how little Pete applied to the applicator pad, but was equally impressed at how much coverage it was capable it of. Pete quickly and easily buffed the wax off then got out his little bottle of water. Once he poured it over the waxed bonnet the entire team had a ‘street magician card trick’ reaction. We simply couldn’t believe the beading, the shine, the sheeting of the water and the hydrophobic abilities that the wax had given the panel. Personally I was beyond impressed, the results it gives would warrant a much much higher price tag. I will be buying this wax (don’t tell the AutoWifer, she doesn’t understand!)

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Chris’ awesome carbon fibre bonnet was also treated to the ‘Cover Up Glaze’, and everyone, including Pete and the 50Cal team where very pleased with how it performed. It had managed to remove a lot of the ‘milky’ residue left by water droplets that you often see on real carbon fibre. It was then treated with some of 50Cals’ pre-production Hydrophobic liquid. What ever is in this stuff is truly special, I personally have never before seen such water repelling abilities. Chris is still telling me how well is is working a few weeks after being applied.

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I am writing this article a few weeks after the whole car was waxed and the beading is still as good as when Pete applied it. Time will tell but early signs are good of this wax having it’s 6 month lifespan that Morgan claimed.

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It was great chatting to the 50cal guys, and their background in chemistry really showed as they where able to explain why their products where better than everyone else on a chemistry level, rather than a ‘Ours’ is a nice colour’ level.

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It seems detailing products are quickly being taken to the next level, and from what our team witnessed at PMG, the team from 50cal are the ones pushing the boundaries and leading the way. Check out PMG’s site for serviced provided, special offers, more info on Pete and the detailing that he offers and to see the full range of products 50cal offers search for ‘50cal detailing’ online.
Words: David Murphy
Photos: Philip Campbell & Patrick McCullagh