By John Carlson – revised 2020

Getting the Highest Score Possible — What Fun!

To receive the highest score possible when showing your vehicle there are lots of little things that can be done so that your vehicle makes a good ‘first impression’ on the judges.

Number One — Know the Rules

Ask a marque judge what is required—ask the Chief Judge…and join a National Marque Club. The marque club will give you the guidelines you need to restore your vehicle properly—do your homework! I can’t imagine spending literally thousands of dollars on the restoration and not spending the 25 or 30 dollars to belong the group that will help you with your restoration so you do it right the first time. Imagine, $ 250.00 spent in club dues over 10 years, compared to replating a bumper at    $200.x 2     JOIN A NATIONAL MARQUE CLUB!!    Model A FORD CLUB OF AMERICA, etc. IT WILL SAVE YOU BIG DOLLARS!

1st Impression

The vehicle should be clean and polished, wipe off any type of compound on the rubber trim around the windows -tires should have been treated with a conditioner to make the rubber a deep black color. The best product I have ever found is obtained from Chrysler Motors. They will not sell it. However, they can legally give it away! They use it on their new & used vehicles sold off the lot. Ask the parts dept how you can get some, be creative. An old standby is Amoral, apply it to the rubber surfaced running boards, tires and any other rubber that is exposed, make sure you then wipe it off completely with a dry cloth. If the rubber parts are reproduction, take the time to cut off the flashing with a razor blade. Remove any trade names that aren’t original to the original item, i.e. if your tires read,” made in New Zealand”, maybe that should disappear. 

Bright Work

REMOVE ALL THE RUST STAINS FROM THE INSIDE OF ANY ROBERTSON or SLOTTED SCREW (rust stain is a no, no) hint, a light solution 5/1 of muriatic acid, that is – 5 parts water to 1 part acid, and a cotton swab (obtained from any construction supply… it’s used to clean cement 7/1 parts maybe also available).

All of the stainless should be professionally polished if the vehicle has been restored. It should not show any signs of swirl marks or buffer marks—–a professional polisher will not leave marks—make sure you inspect it in full bright sun light, if you see marks, swirls etc. take it back!

Note: the backs of some bumpers should be plated but not polished or ground smooth first before plating—check the judging guidelines first and avoid disappointment. – i.e. Model A Fords had a smooth bright plated chrome front face on their bumpers, the back was not polished but was also plated.  The same applies to Early V/8 Fords. (1932-1953)

ALL EXTERNAL PARTS SHOULD HAVE THE PROPER PLATING—if the original plating was nickel and you have it chrome plated there will be point deductions scored against the vehicle….is it worth doing that –maybe, you do the math and make that decision. If it’s a Model A or T or early Ford V/8 don’t do it!  The judging deduction is far too high.

Fasteners — One Mark of a Quality Restoration

Polishing a fender or hand rubbing nickel trim is often very rewarding. It looks good very quickly. Our tendency is to keep polishing and rubbing– the better it looks the more we shine — point deductions — it’s far better to have a less shinny fender than to have the wrong fasteners. When you are restoring your vehicle do the necessary home work to find out what fasteners are correct …the wrong nuts and bolts will cost you BIG deductions. The judges are looking for things that are incorrect. A great shine on your paint job is just that! It’s not correct or incorrect. The plating of the fasteners is also very important. They can be Cad, nickel, unfinished, painted, chrome, zinc, raven black or blued. In some cases the nuts, and bolts  are made of  brass, bronze, lead, etc. The same applies to washers and cotter pins. Cotter pins come in cad, plain, zinc, brass and stainless finishes.  Make sure you choose the correct size, style and material. A little research is all that is required you do not lose points. It’s still takes the same amount of time to install the items.

Nuts, bolts and washers are usually the biggest offenders.  All bolts are industrially graded for strength and are identified by their head markings. (There are marks on the bolt head indicating how strong the bolt is.)  Most bolts used today are classified as Grade 5. In the early days of motoring there were standards but often no grading marks were found on the bolt head or the auto maker had their own nuts and bolts made to their specifications and didn’t use grade indicators on the fasteners to indicate it’s strength, (i.e. Model A Ford) In today’s world a bolt with no indicator often means it’s poorer quality, not graded , and is considered “ weak”. If the fastener is holding you barbecue together perhaps that’s okay, however, if it is holding the front suspension of car together it could break and MAY KILL YOU!  ALWAYS use Grade 8 fasteners or stronger on Vintage Race Car Applications.

Some Tricks

A general rule is to always use Grade 5 bolts or stronger. Carefully grind off the indicator marks on the bolt head, glass bead or polish off grinding marks and then have the proper finish re- applied. i.e. EBCO Plating, in Richmond, BC will Cad or Zinc plate your fasteners by the pound (always take at least 5 pounds or more) …IN THE JUDGING PROCESS IF THE NUT OR BOLT YOU ARE WORKING WITH IS UNFINISHED AND YOU CHOOSE TO PAINT IT BLACK SO THAT IT WILL NOT RUST THERE WILL BE NO POINT DEDUCTION. The proper answer you will give the Judge when asked, “why are these fasteners painted” is I’m preventing rust! Do not say, because it looks good. I’m sure you get the idea.

A COMMON PROBLEM IS THE USE OF STAINLESS—IF THE VEHICLE Didn’t COME WITH STAINLESS Don’t use it, or if you do, paint it black. If you want to replace a cad finished bolt simply grind off the Grade markings  on a stainless bolt and ten glass bead it. It will look just like a cad plated bolt.

NOTE: Most pre war vehicles did not have indicator marks on their bolt heads.

Never paint the nut and washer together unless they came that way, Often the nut was painted but not the washer.


Many bolts had specific shapes for their placement, i.e. the shape of the timing chain cover bolts on a 1928-1931 Ford  was domed and Raven finished. The shape of the valve cover bolts was hex and flat topped.  It’s very easy for a Judge to pick the differences up in a glance. Again, do the research. You only have to do it once, and you don’t have to polish it!


One of the very best sources of correct fasteners for Fords, 1932-1948 is ROY NACEWICZ ENTERPRISES, If you have a question please contact Third Gen Automotive  Tel: (844) 327-5988
2600 Old Nashville Hwy, McMinnville, TN 37110 (updated 2020)

Roy is a longtime, vintage race car collector. He owns the famous Fred Frame 33 Ford roadster featured in many early Ford books. Request his 65 plus page catalogue, it’s one of the best sources I have ever found. His parts are Concours‘s correct.

Dennis Carpenter: supplies plastic, rubber, chrome and mechanical for lots of different makes of vehicles…. +1 888-541-4346 call and order his parts catalog or visit Also has 8N and 9N Tractor parts, Cushman Motor scooter parts, Ford 30’s – 70’s.  

Bob Drake Reproductions: 1-800-221-3673 or has 24 mini catalogs, supplies trim, wipers, hub caps , bumpers —anything related to external trim for Fords, his parts are great ! 

Kanter Auto Products they sell excellent mechanical parts , hoses ,brake parts, front end kits, for lots of different makes of autos and trucks—–this is a huge company that carries lots of inventory and will rebuild fuel pumps , etc.

Steele Rubber Products: They do not carry any Ford Product – outstanding parts or

This applies to all restored vehicles.

 I have used all of the suppliers I have mentioned. They have NEVER let me down. I am very careful to only recommend the BEST — there are many other great suppliers, do your homework.

Glass and Logos


***The replacement of correct window glass is often overlooked when doing a restoration or replacing original glass in an original vehicle.

Some helpful hints:

  1. Most safety glass is marked with a logo—-do the research and find out which glass logo was correct for your vehicle. For example, Model A Ford logos actually are linked to the year of the car. An Early Ford V/8 will have the month of manufacture indicated by some makers.  There were several different manufactures of glass and each had their own logo.  See your Marque Judging Standards book for updates and guidelines. ALL MAKES OF VEHICLES HAD LOGOS ON THEIR GLASS. Its better to have no logo than a modern day incorrect logo or aftermarket logo. Restoration is all about the attention to the details.
  2. The person judging glass will be looking for the correct logos or incorrect logos, indicating new glass. The key word is restoration, not replacement.
  3. Tinted glass is a no, no, if the vehicle didn’t come with it.  A 1936 Packard did not have tinted glass. A 1967 Mustang certainly could have tinted glass.

NOTE: Glass etching kits are available so that proper logos may be applied—-This is usually done by applying a mask like decal that has been ” laser” cut out with the proper dates or codes. Once the decal mask has been applied to the window a cotton swab treated with Hydrofluoric acid is applied. The glass is etched with the application of the acid…let the acid dry– the decal mask is removed with a razor blade—voila, an original window logo. Note: The fumes that are given off are extremely poisonous.  Do not breath the fumes.  There is such a small amount of fume that this application process does not concern me but hold your breath anyway. If you were to etch a large piece of glass, i.e. coffee table top with a large design on it, that would be a different matter and cause for concern and the use of safety precautions. I would wear a mask certified for Hydrofluoric acid safety.

Early Vehicles (Pre-War)

The logos were applied to the glass as it went by on a conveyer belt, that meant that ALL of the glass was stamped on the same side in the same place.  Therefore, when you apply a logo to your side windows, if they’re done correctly, the logos will be reversed on one side of the vehicle.  It looks great to walk around the car and be able to read a perfect Ford Script on each window, except that was not the original style. On the side windows of a flat-glassed vehicle one side will be easy to read. The other side of the car will have the logos on the inside of the glass and they will appear as being reversed.

Buying Glass

When the glass company cuts out your new replacement glass make sure you instruct them to leave the logos off. NOT HAVING A LOGO IS MUCH BETTER THAN HAVING ONE THAT IS INCORRECT. You may be told that current safety codes dictate that there must be a logo indicating you are using safety glass!  Shop around, you’ll find a shop that will cut safety glass that will be logo free.

Glass Edges

The edges of the glass are also treated in a special way. (this applies to roll up windows only.)  They should be polished smooth and in the case of early Fords should have a black edge.  Hint: use a “Sharpie” waterproof laundry marker. Run the marker over the edge of the glass and it will become permanently colored black. A little lacquer thinner applied to a cloth will remove it should that become necessary.

Trim the Glass Bedding Material

One of the easiest ways to lose points is to leave the little threads exposed around the inner edge of the windshield frame on early vehicles. Take the time to cut off the threads. Don’t pull them off or they will unravel the fabric – use a razor blade and cut them if you can. Before your vehicle is being judged run a small damp sponge around the edge of the glass frame, this may keep the little “wispies” in place. When you are having a windshield installed check to see what the proper bedding material was and try to duplicate it. If you’re building a street rod, silicone is great. It has no place on a restored vehicle if it can be seen.

Cleaning Glass

Hint:  Don’t use Windex or any other window cleaner on your inside glass. They all contain brighteners that cause reflections (flat glass is the worst).  Instead use a solution of ammonia and water mixed 8:1 (8 parts water with one drop of dish detergent, one drop is compared to the head of a match).  Use the Windex- type products on the outside glass. You can also polish your outside glass. Never polish the inside glass. It will cause reflections, especially at night.

In conclusion, spend the time necessary to do a correct and proper restoration by spending time with the experts in a Marque Club. If you have a mentor for a particular Marque you are indeed very fortunate.  Once your car is restored have it judged at a Marque specific judge meet. Be prepared to correct many things you might have overlooked. After you have had the vehicle judged in at least one Marque Regional meet only then should you take it to a National Meet unless you know for certain your vehicle needs nothing. The pride of ownership and the attention to detail will bring you great joy. As of 2020 vehicles are being strongly encouraged to be driven and enjoyed. There should be no deductions for minor wear or signs of being driven. The International Chief Judge Advisory Group is considered by many as the finest Concours judging format in the world today. The emphasis is on Concours and not on Marque Judging. In my opinion the NAACC 1000-point system is the finest judging format for uncomplicated Club judging. It provides instant feedback, rewards all 900-point winners of each Class and is fun.

In Conclusion

doing your homework, paying attention to detail and doing the restoration to the best of your ability will be very rewarding.  Show the vehicle and have it judged before you drive it many miles and then drive and enjoy it as often as you can. Life is short.