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6 Things Judges Will Check At Car Shows (Car Show Checklist)

If you have a car that you are proud of, be it old or new, you may be considering taking it to a car show. Whether you have put the time in and want to show off your prized possession, or simply want to check out the other cars, you should know the main things judges will check at car shows.

The 6 things judges will check at car shows are:

  1. Cleanliness & detailing
  2. Overall condition
  3. Under the hood
  4. Interior condition
  5. Originality
  6. Authenticity

All of these are sure to be checked by any car show judge, and they are all very important if you want to score well and win the top prize, and all the glory that goes along with it! So, let’s take a deeper dive into each one, and give you some tips on how to prepare for a car show.

6 Things Judges Will Check At Car Shows

1. Cleanliness & Detailing

Often Forgotten

One of the most important things to remember when you take your car to a show is that the judges are looking at dozens of other cars. This means that if you are there to win, you need to stand out from the rest. There are surefire ways to do this of course, but before you even start thinking about originality and what kind of car it is, cleaning it up and giving it a good detail is the first step.

So many people go to car shows and forget that the judges are not just looking for a nice car to give the top prize. They want to see that you care about your car, and indeed that you care what other people think of your car. This means not relying on the model on its own and putting some time and effort in to really show it off in its best possible condition.

Check Everything

Giving the car a quick wash will make it look less dirty obviously, but the judges are not simply going to have a glance at your car and make a decision. They are going to get up close to your car, and every aspect of it. They will check under the wheel rims, in between the door jams, along the bodywork of the car and in between all of the small spaces where dirt might collect.

This means you need to takethe time and make the effort to check all of these areas yourself and leave no stone unturned in your efforts to make your car look as good as possible. Getting it detailed by someone else is another good idea if you are not too sure what you are doing or simply want it to be done by a professional.

DIY Or Professional?

Detailing can bring out a new lease of life in old and new cars alike, so if you want to impress, take some time to clean your car properly, or spend a bit of money having a professional do it for you.

2. Overall Condition

Look For Damage

No matter how hard you scrub and how well you clean your car, if it is not in a good condition that will show instantly. This means things like the paint job, any dents or scratches or other sources of damage will be heavily scrutinized by the judges. They want your car to be in good condition as they ultimately want to be judging good cars, but they will pick up on faults quickly.

DIY paint jobs are some of the most common sources of lost points, as they often just do not cut it like a professional paint job. The same goes for any repairs that perhaps don’t look as perfect as they could, and things like tape lines and paint runs will not work in your favor with the judges. Judges will be able to tell right away if your car is in good condition, as it is their job to be able to.

Take Care Of The Car

This means taking yet more care in the lead up to the car show, to ensure that you don’t risk any unwanted damage by leaving it in suboptimal conditions for example. By practicing good care of any of your vehicles, you will put yourself in good stead to do well in the overall condition department when it comes to taking it to the show.

3. Under The Hood

You Need To Stand Out

This is where things can get technical but once again a lot of it comes down to the car’s condition. The judges at car shows have already seen hundreds of cars before yours, not just at your current show but in years gone by. They know what they are looking for and exactly what they are not looking for too, and this doesn’t just apply to paint jobs but also to everything under the hood as well.

Sure, if your car has something worthy of being shown off under the hood, you will want to ensure that it can be easily seen by the judges. Although they won’tnecessarily care about the size or power of the engine, it can help in the originality department which we will check out in a moment. Really, you just want it to look as good as possible.

Good Practices

This meansshining up any chrome components, hiding any wires where you can and ensuring that the engine bay looks as tidy as possible. This will bode well for you as the engine bay is one of the most often neglected parts of the car. Taking care of this will really show the judges that your car is worth the time and effort, and worth the top prize.

4. Interior Condition

Make It Look Good

Another key area of the car to check before you take your car to the show is the interior. This is quite an obvious one, but it really is one of the most important things the judges will check. All of the aspects discussed so far and the final few we will discuss in the next sections work as pieces of a larger puzzle, with each one being integral to the overall scoring system the judges use.

This means they all must be in order if you want to score well, and a brilliant exterior and engine bay can easily be forgotten about if the judge finds that the interior of the car is a mess. Thus, you need to take care of every part of the car inside and out if you want to do well at car shows, and the interior is one of the most important, especially in classic cars.

Once Again, Check Everything

The interior can make the difference between cheap and luxury, and the judges will check everything from the condition of the seats to the dashboard and steering wheel. Simple things like tidying up the seat belts so they look symmetrical won’t score you extra points, but it will help to prevent you from losing some, as the judges once again want to see that you have made the effort for the show.

5. Originality

Originality Adds Value

The originality of anything in life automatically adds to its value, as people want things that other people don’t – or can’t – have. Cars are no different, and things like one-off models and specific engines and parts can make the difference between ‘just another Mustang’ and something that will totally blow the judges away.

Classic cars are the ones that generally come to mind when considering originality, but modern cars can also prove to be just as collectible. Judges will be looking for original parts on older cars that are no longer made, rather than an old rust bucket that has been converted into a ‘classic car’ through the installation of cheap, secondhand parts from real classic models.

Original Condition

And, if you do have a truly classic car, they will want to see that you have managed to keep it in as close to its original condition as possible. It doesn’t just need to be unique to pass the originality test, it also needs to have key components well maintained throughout its life. Replacement parts will stick out like a sore thumb to expert judges, so don’t try to convince them otherwise.

6. Authenticity

Documents & Certificates

Going hand in hand with originality is authenticity. If you have a classic car and are looking to win big at a car show, you better be prepared to prove just how worthy it is of the top spot. This means holding all of the right documents and certificates so that you can present them to judges as soon as they ask to see them.

There are only a few ways to prove a car is the model that you say it is, and paperwork is the most popular if simply giving it a once over isn’t enough. Unfortunately, as is common today as well, people who owned these classic cars when they were just carsdidn’t always care to keep the seemingly unnecessary paperwork, manuals and stickers that came with them.

Photos & Posters

This means that holding the real documents adds an element ofrarity to the car, which adds value, which in turn makes the judges more likely to score you well. But owner’s manuals aren’t the only way to score high in the authenticity category, as photos and posters will also bode well for you if you have the right ones.

Historic photographs of classic cars that can be attributed or matched up fairly easily to the car you have will obviously be a good indicator of authenticity, but even if you are not dealing with a classic car, having photos that illustrate its journey, perhaps through the various modifications made to it, can really add character to the car and add to its appeal.

The Final Checks

People love to hear about the stories behind cars of all ages, and so if you can provide evidence without having to simply ask them to take your word for it, you will look good to onlookers and judges alike. Authenticity and originality are the final pieces of the car show puzzle, and for classic cars they are two of the most important things judges will check.

Final Thoughts

It should be clear by now that the most important things that a judge will check at a car show are the overall condition of the car, both inside and out, and if effort has been made to clean and maintain it over time. Authenticity and originality are also key, so having the relevant photos and documents on hand is also a good idea.