You could easily drive past the plain-Jane structure that houses Auto Obsessed. It doesn’t look any different on the outside than countless other commercial buildings in the city. But on the day I visited this specialist detailing shop in Edmonton, inside was parked a mouthwatering collection of exotic cars receiving a show car-level of detailing for the upcoming 2015 Edmonton Motorshow. Swissvax crystal rock has one of the highest carnauba content of any wax available, at a massive 76% by volume, the pot is truly overflowing with pure Brazilian ivory carnauba wax goodness.
This collection of exotic cars would weaken the knees of any red-blooded car lover. There were four were new 2015 models, privately owned – a Porsche Carrera 911 GTS, BMW M4 coupe, Dodge Viper, and Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat – as well as a 1938 Ford hotrod. The owners of this fantasy collection of automobilia have handed over their cherished cars to Auto Obsessed for detailing treatment.
It’s been said that “God is in the details”, and if that’s true, Auto Obsessed is the holy epicenter for car owners obsessed (pun intended) with perfect, immaculately clean, polished and waxed cars.
Troy Semeniuk opened Auto Obsessed in 2012 and talking to him, it’s obvious he is a perfectionist. Walking into the spotless five-bay shop area is like entering what I imagine an open heart surgery theatre to be. The walls, floors and ceiling are painted a clinical white, cars are positioned widely apart to allow generous work space around each vehicle, and each work bay is starkly barren except for the vehicle waiting for service.
The shop area was renovated specifically for the persnickety process of automotive detailing. The shop’s environment is carefully controlled and kept dust free with the help of special air filters, and the water used for washing cars is filtered.
The main detailing area can hold nine vehicles and there is a separate, one-car “Clean Room.”
“I always wanted to have a car in my living room, so the Clean Room is part of my ‘living room,’ ” Semeniuk says with a smile. The Clean Room has one floor-to-ceiling glass wall that faces the lounge. Customers can relax in the waiting room and watch the final preparation of vehicles for delivery to their owner or just sit there and admire the car with its exhibition-level finish like I did when a 2015 Viper SRT in Competition Blue Pearl was there.
Auto Obsessed also caters to the most fanatical DIYers and car care professionals offering an incredible supply of car care products from around the world. “We carry more than 60 brand lines with 1,700 different products and we are the Canadian distributors for many hard to get professional detailing products. As far as I know, nobody in Canada or possibly North America carries the level of pro-level products as we do,” Semeniuk says.
The owner claims no allegiance to any one brand but says he chooses the best product for the job at hand, whether it’s polishing or waxing painted surfaces, cleaning alloy wheels, cleaning glass and cleaning and protecting leather surfaces or plastic. A few of the brands the store carries are Chemical Guys (U.S.), Einszett (Germany), Griots Garage (U.S.), Leatherique (U.S.), P21S (Germany), Sonax (Germany), and Swissvax (Switzerland, and which is the OEM supplier to a number of European exotic car manufacturers). The store also carries a large supply of car care products for the do-it-yourselfer and professionals alike, such as power polishers, polishing pads, squeegees, tapes and sanding sheets.
“We charge 125 dollars per hour for detailing services. That may sound expensive, but when I inform customers the wax we use costs 250 dollars per bottle, they begin to understand.” The typical “starting point” for the pre-owned cars of many customers is eight to 10 hours of detailing services “and goes up from there.”
Inside the shop area, Semeniuk explains the extraordinary precautions he takes to ensure that customers’ valuable cars are protected from any possible damage during detailing service. “Any products we use (like wash buckets) must be wheeled on a cart into the shop, and anything with a handle like a mop or broom must be laid flat on the floor when not in use. That way, we minimize the possibility of anything bumping into and damaging a car.”
Exotic car companies use Auto Obsessed’s services for local new car preparation. “We’re a preferred vendor for Tesla and we’ve done work for Lamborghini of Vancouver, but we also do work for local car dealers.” Semeniuk wouldn’t reveal the name of new car dealers he’s done work for, but says brand new cars are regularly sent to Auto Obsessed to “fix” new car paint that has been improperly finished by the factory or dealership. Recently, the shop received a new supercar with 10 kilometres on it. “The customer was furious, and I don’t blame him. When he picked up his new car, you could see wet sanding marks and buffer ‘trails’ in the paint. We spent about 40 hours doing a multi-stage paint correction, polishing multiple times every inch of that car.”
Auto Obsessed has done extensive work preparing show cars like the 1938 Ford hotrod. “We spent 40 hours on (the Ford) preparing it for a major car show in the United States, and the car won ‘Best in Show.’ The owner put about 1,000 kilometres on it since then and we’ll put another 60 to 70 hours detailing it for display at the Edmonton Auto Show.”
I crawled under the hot rod and scrutinized the nooks and crannies around the rear axle and suspension – it was as spotless as my mother-in-law’s precious crystal tucked away in her China cabinet.
Interestingly, not all of Auto Obsessed’s customers have a truck load of cash and own stratospherically-priced cars. As an example, Semeniuk says last year a Saskatchewan resident planned a trip specifically to Edmonton so he could have his newly-purchased Hyundai detailed at the store, and another customer from Fort McMurray brought in a newly-painted and restored “work” pickup truck to have its interior totally disassembled (including removing the dashboard) and detailed.
Another service Auto Obsessed offers is Paint Protection Film installation. Alberta’s winters wreak havoc on automotive paint finishes. City crews liberally spread gravel on roadways which peppers the paint and chips it. The shop installs Paint Protection Film using custom, plotter-cut pieces, and Semeniuk explains that a ‘full impact’ package – PPF that covers “all impact areas” including the entire hood, bumper, headlights, rocker panels and A-pillars – is popular. And installers frequently custom cut pieces for customers who want special parts of the car protected.
For those seeking the ultimate protection, full body coverage can be had for $4,000 to $5,000, a substantial sum for sure, but not unreasonable if one has just purchased a $160,000 Porsche Carrera GTS, for example.
Auto Obsessed is one of those “gem” shops for the hardcore car lover. Their retail store (with products available online at www.Autoobsessed.com) has an incredible selection of specialist detailing products for DIYers, and Semeniuk is a walking encyclopedia of detailing products and how to properly use them.
As for me, I’m going to bite the bullet and pony up for a pricey bottle of wax that Semeniuk says was formulated at the request of BMW for a matte finish paint, the perfect paint treatment for my matte grey BMW R1200RT motorcycle.